Hiking In Valais: From Easy To Challenging Treks

hiking valais

If you’re lucky enough to spend the summer in Valais, Switzerland, and have a little to a lot of hiking experience, over 8,000 km of clearly signposted hiking trails are waiting for you to explore. Valais is an L-shaped valley about 160 km west of Lake Geneva. The area encompasses the world-class resort of Zermatt, the famous Matterhorn, the high peaks of the Pennine Alps, sparkling glaciers, flower-studded meadows, and charming villages.

From short scenic strolls to moderate climbs and challenging multi-day treks, our list of hikes in Valais has something for everyone.

The Ibex Trail

The Ibex Trail
The Ibex Trail – © Ourea Services SA
  • Hike: Point to point
  • Distance: 9.8 km
  • Time: 4 hr 14 min
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging

Located near Saas-Fee, the Ibex Trail begins at the Hannig mountain station and leads to the Mällig summit in the canton of Valais with a descent back to Saas-Fee. The trail is named for its good chance of spotting the symbolic ibex goat with its magnificent curved horn. The Ibex is an agile climber that is quite at home in the rough terrain of the Alps. Look for these graceful animals above the tree line along the first half of the hike.

For this hike, you will take the gondola from Saas-Fee to Hannig. This is followed by a steep climb up the Mällig slopes past an ancient glacier moraine and avalanche barriers. You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Saastal Valley and towering 4,000-meter summits that surround Saas-Fee. Expect to see the glaciated Dom Mischabel massif. At 4, 545 meters above sea level, it’s the highest peak that sits entirely within Switzerland.

Lac de Taney Hike

Lac de Taney Hike
Lac de Taney Hike – © Valais Wallis Promotion
  • Hike: Loop, family hike
  • Distance: 5.6 km
  • Time: 2 hr 32 min
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Stunning scenery and a moderate to challenging trail await you on the Lac de Taney hike near Miex, Valais. Making your way around this loop trail, you will be immersed in meadows and forests with views of beautiful Lake Taney and the surrounding mountains. You’ll also likely spot local wildlife such as ibex, marmots, and chamois.

The hike begins by climbing a steep path that ends with a gentle stroll around the lake. You’ll be amazed at the lake’s shade of turquoise so be prepared to take lots of photos. You can go swimming or fishing in the lake and have a picnic on the grassy shores where you’ll find BBQ grills available. Or you can stop by for a respite at one of two restaurants with outdoor terraces in Taney Village.

The 5 Lakes Hike

zermatt
5 Lakes Trail, Zermatt
  • Hike: Loop
  • Distance: 10.9km
  • Time: 3 hr 43 min
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate

This pleasant day hike in the area around Zermatt is an easy hike that passes by the mountain lakes of Grindjisee, Grünsee, Leisee, and Stellisee. Along most of the way, you’ll have unobstructed views of the Matterhorn in the distance as well as be able to see its reflection in three of the lakes.

The starting point of this hike is at Blauherd mountain station which sits at an altitude of 2, 571 meters. Get there by taking the underground funicular to Sunnegga and then the gondola to Blauherd You’ll pass over a variety of terrain including narrow dirt paths with jutting rocks, flat gravel paths, and a section of switchbacks.

The hike ends at Sunnegga, and the funicular will return you to Zermatt.

Anyone with a reasonable level of fitness will enjoy this hike. Just be prepared for a few steep sections in places.

Sentier des Chamois Hike

Sentier des Chamois Hike
Sentier des Chamois Hike – © Valais Wallis Promotion
  • Hike: Loop trail
  • Distance: 17.5 km
  • Time: 6 hr 29 min
  • Difficulty: Challenging

The “Path of the Chamois” loop trail in the area of Loutier leads you into the Haut Val de Bagnes, Switzerland’s second-largest nature reserve where you’re almost certain to get a glimpse of the graceful Chamois mountain goat and other wildlife. It’s a secluded trail in a wild landscape, so you won’t likely meet many other hikers on this half-day hike.

The trail lets you explore the Bec des Rosses, a mountain in the Pennine Alps, overlooking Verbier, a famous sea resort and part of the 4 Vallees ski area. You’ll hike through high pastures and challenging slopes high above the valley floor.

Although the Sentier de Chamois proper starts at La Chaux, a flat trail begins at Les Ruinettes and passes through the Verbier 3-D Sculpture Park where you can admire original works of art in a spectacular natural setting.

Aletsch Panorama Trail

Aletsch Glacier
Aletsch Glacier
  • Hike: Point to point
  • Distance: 12 km
  • Time: 3 hr 45 min
  • Difficulty: Challenging

Get to this short but challenging hike near Riederalp, Valais via the chairlift to Moosfluh. The trail is the second leg of the Aletsch Panorama Trail and is also known as the Swiss Glacier Trail. The Aletch in Switzerland is the Alps’ largest and longest glacier at 22 kilometers long (14 mi). It covers 78 square kilometers (48 sq mi). The ice has an incredible thickness of 900 meters or 2,950 ft.

The wide mountain trail carved into rock crosses the Grosses Gufer Glacier, continues on to Rote Chumma, and finally down to Märjelensee Lake. In earlier times, a wall of ice from the Aletsch Glacier caused icebergs as large as houses floated on the water. Today the landscape is picturesque and features grassy meadows.

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You’ll have lots of exposure to the sun on this trail, especially during the summer, so bring adequate sun protection and plenty of water.

Monte Moro Pass

Monte Moro Pass
Monte Moro Pass – Image courtesy of Wikimedia
  • Hike: Loop
  • Distance: 7.4 km
  • Time: 3 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

The Monte Moro Pass trail begins at the Mattmark dam and reservoir and leads to the Monte Moro Pass sitting at 2,853 meters above sea level. A cable car connects the trail to Staffa, a village in the Valle Anzasca in Italy.

The trail starts out as moderately easy until you get to the reservoir. Then the trail turns steep and rocky. Once at the Gaspare Oberto Refuge on the Moro Pass, you can take a well-deserved break. You’ll be at an altitude of 2,796 meters and have breathtaking views of Piemonte and the Saas Valley. Another point of interest you’ll see in the distance is the Golden Statue of Mary that watches over the Monte Moro Pass.

Near the end of the hike, you’ll pass through several summer snowfields where sure-footedness is required.

Thermal Canyon Walk

Thermal Canyon Walk
Thermal Canyon Walk – © Valais Wallis Promotion
  • Hike: Theme trail
  • Distance: 2.8 km
  • Time: 1.5 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy

This short gentle walk leads to the beautiful Dala Gorge over the river to a waterfall to stop by and enjoy. Steps lead up to the source of the waterfall. On the way, you’ll have stunning views of the mountains surrounding Leukerbad. The trail is suitable for young children and more than worthwhile for adults. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

This themed trail is centered around Leukerbad’s world-famous mineral water and focuses on the site of the hot springs. Part of the Thermal Spring theme trail can be done with the Thermal Canyon walk as you explore the thermal spring’s significance and history.

The route starts in the village center and passes the resort to reach the gorge. Information panels along the way reveal the story of the medicinal properties of thermal water and how it supports the local economy.

Cabane de Moiry

Cabane de Moiry
Cabane de Moiry
  • Hike: Point to point
  • Distance: 3 km
  • Time: 1-2 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

This short trail near Zinal, Valais is the ninth segment of the well-known Haute Route. The high route takes hikers from Chamonix to Zermatt at an altitude between 1500 and 3000 meters with jaw-dropping views of the peaks of the Alps.

The hike begins at a large parking area south of Lac de Moirey and directly north of the smaller yet more impressive Lac de Châteaupré. Head south out of the parking area above the north shore of the lake to a path that gently climbs southeast towards the moraine that descends from the Glacier de Moiry. A path on a ridge above the moraine leads to a mountain hut called the Cabane de Moiry to explore.

Tour des Dents du Midi

Tour des Dents du Midi
Tour des Dents du Midi – © Association Tour des Dents-du-Midi
  • Hike: Loop trail
  • Distance: 66.6km
  • Time: 3-4 days
  • Difficulty: Challenging

This multi-day challenging hike was formerly a 32-kilometer mountain race that took place annually. It’s one of the first hiking trails in Valais. Over time, it became longer but more accessible and opened in 1972. It’s located in Dents du Midi, a mountain range in Chablais-Valais. The range was formerly called “the teeth of Tsallens and was a symbol of the lower Valais. You’ll recognize the mountains in the range by their shape.

The scenery you’ll enjoy includes majestic peaks, glaciers, alone lakes, forests, and waterfalls.

Hikers should be in good physical condition to hike this trail. Accommodations and places to stop for a meal are located along the way.

Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges and Lac Bleu

Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges and Lac Bleu
Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges and Lac Bleu – © Ourea Services SA
  • Hike: Loop trail
  • Distance: 14.3 km
  • Time: 5 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This day hike from Arolla leads up to a high mountain refuge and down to Lac Blue and back on a geological trail. It leads out of the village above the treeline along slopes to a peaceful mountain cabin. The Cabane des Aigulles Rouge is located at the foot of a spectacular chain of peaks covered in glaciers known as the Aiguilles Rouges d’Arolla.

A free app called the GéoGuide Val d’Hérens is available to help you explore the area. Printed information is available at the tourist office in Arolla.

Begin this trail at the Hôtel du Glacier car park and follow Val d’Hérens in the direction of Evolène.

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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