Hiking puts you in a good mood – and it’s in vogue. As something of a megatrend, it draws city dwellers to the wilderness, and lowlanders to the mountains. The Swiss alpine village of Zermatt offers all of this and more. Valérie Julen, a qualified hiking guide, reveals some of her favourite jaunts.
For high flyers
The new Matterhorn Glacier Ride II, a tri-cable circulating cableway, extends the hiking area to Cervinia in Italy. I love exploring this region. As a form of “alpine crossing” with stops en-route, it offers spectacular panoramic views into the depths thanks to the glass floor – an experience that leaves you with no aching muscles.
Route: Zermatt → Matterhorn Glacier Paradise (Klein Matterhorn) → Breuil-Cervinia
Duration: 1h 30
An easy-going outing that offers a blend of hiking and adventure. Highlights include the suspension bridge (with playground and adjacent picnic spots), the Glacier Garden and the Gorner Gorge. There’s the Fun Park afterwards for anyone with any energy left. Alternatively, a shortcut at Schweigmatten takes you back to the cableway.
Route: Zermatt, Furi lower cableway terminus → gondola to Furi → suspension bridge → playground and Glacier Garden → Gorner Gorge → Fun Park
Length: 5 km
An outing offering great photo motifs – principally the two lakes, Stellisee and Grindjesee. Don’t miss having a dip in another lake, Grünsee, if the weather’s hot. My favourite bit of the route: at Grünsee, head for Riffelalp instead of the other two lakes. The views of the Matterhorn and the path through the forest, especially in autumn, are incredible.
Route: 5-lake trail: Zermatt Sunegga lower terminus → train/gondola cableway to Blauherd → Stellisee → Grindjesee → Grünsee → Mossjesee → Leisee → Sunegga
Length: 7.5 km
Duration: 2h 30
You won’t find more restaurants on a hike than this! On this outing, you could have your aperitif, starter, main course and dessert in different restaurants. The bar at the Adler at the start of the hike is just the place for aperitifs. After that, it’s on to the restaurant Chez Vrony, then to Othmars Hütte in Ried with its salmon specialities and the Restaurant Ried for its yummy beef tartar.
Route: Sunegga lower terminus → train to Sunegga → Findeln → Ried → Zermatt
Length: 8.2 km
This outing’s short and easy. With a bit of luck, you might see the Matterhorn reflected in the waters of the Riffelsee. My favourite photo opportunity is at the place where the ascent to the Riffelhorn starts: it offers views of the Monte Rosa, Pollux, Castor, Breithorn and the glacier. That leaves plenty of time for a cocktail in Edward’s Bar at the Hotel Monte Rosa, where the first man up the Matterhorn once stayed – Edward Whymper.
Route: Rotenboden → Riffelberg
Length: 3 km
Duration: 1h 15
For mountain devotees
Just the spot if what you want is some peace and quiet. Around here, everything’s accessible – but only on foot. Bear in mind this outing calls for stamina! The Mettelhorn is an annual summer destination of mine. It’s a strenuous day out, but you’re rewarded with magnificent views of the neighbouring mountains, Zermatt and the Matter valley.
Route: Zermatt → Mettelhorn → Zermatt
Length: 18 km
For culture vultures
Along the way, you learn all about Zermatt and its historical and cultural treasures courtesy of the Alts-Zermatt association, of which I’m a member. The highlights of this outing include views of Zermatt village, Europe’s oldest barn (1261) and stories from the past.
Route: Zermatt → Herbrigg → Zmutt → Zum See → Zermatt
Length: 7.5 km
Valérie Julen is keen to communicate her passion for her region, its nature and culture, to visitors. www.zermatters.ch
This article is an excerpt from La Réserve Magazine N° 29 by Michel Reybier Hospitality, which you can consult online here.