The first thing you will notice as you leave the train upon arrival in Zermatt is the breathtaking mountain which calls this perfect alpine village home. The presence of the Matterhorn can be felt throughout the city, but it is even more stunning from the various vistas surrounding the valley. Some of our favorite views of this majestic mountain can only be taken in with an easily accessible Alps hiking adventure, or in some cases, a short ride on one of the many trams, trains and funiculars which connect the valley.
Length: 4 miles | Duration: 3-5 hours First on our list is the Gornergrat. The views of the Matterhorn as well as Monte Rosa, Liskamm, Castor, Pollux and the Breithorn, just to name a few of the many 4000-meter peaks surrounding you, are absolutely stunning. You can also see the Gorner Glacier, the glacier that formed part of the valley where Zermatt is located. Take in these views while sipping a hot cup of coffee or cocoa on the terrace of the highest hotel in Europe, situated at 3100 meters above sea level. On your way down, don’t miss the chance to catch the perfect reflections of the iconic Matterhorn in the waters of Riffelsee, and continue on for a walk through the meadows to Riffelberg where you can visit a small alpine chapel before returning to town.
Furi to Gorner Gorge
Length: 8 miles | Duration: 3-5 hours Next on the agenda is a special cultural and intellectual walk through one of the oldest villages in the area and the original settlement of the city of Zermatt. As we descend from Furi, we can pass through the small village of Blatten and see the architecture of period buildings dating back hundreds of years. These building are still in use to this day. As you continue on you will pass through a Ricola garden where you can familiarize yourself with the many varieties of herbs used in Switzerland’s famous Ricola herb drops. Finally, as you descend closer to the city, you can take a short but exciting detour through the Gornerschlucht gorge. Here you can see the fantastic power of the glaciers which carved the valley in which you stand. For slightly longer excursion, this hike may be started from the Riffelalp stop on the Gornergrat railway.
Five Lakes Trail
Length: 6-8 miles | Duration: 4-6 hours If you are fan of beautiful lakes and the scenery they afford, this next option is sure to attract your attention. Take the Sunnegga tram to its first stop at the Sunnegga station and begin your hike with a gentle downhill walk to the first of 5 scenic lakes on this trial. From here, tighten your laces and turn upwards as you climb gently up one of the many side valleys leading away from Zermatt. The 5 lakes along the 5-seenweg are some of the most beautiful in the area and views of the Matterhorn are plentiful as you turn corner after corner to discover beautiful new vistas. After reaching the final and most iconic of the lakes, Stellisee, continue to the Blauherd tram and descend to Sunnegga where you can take lunch at the fabulous restaurant there, or work your way down on foot.
Edelweiss Hut (with Trift Hut option)
Length: 2 miles (7 miles) | Duration: 1.5 hours (4.5 hours) The Edelweisshutte is a special place. As a functioning provider of both food and lodging only accessible by foot or by helicopter, reaching this landmark over the city of Zermatt is a treat. The trail is short, but steep, but not to fear. Upon reaching the top you can enjoy a refreshing beverage or a slice of their delectable carrot cake made with real cream cheese frosting. If you need to work off those additional calories, you can continue on to the Trifthutte another 45 minutes past the Edelweisshutte. The views from both destinations give you a great perspective of the city of Zermatt and the surrounding valleys.
Length: 11 miles | Duration: 5-7 hours A nice variation of the Edelweisshutte hike is the Höhbalmen Höhenweg. You can start this trip from the northern or southern terminus of the trail and gain the same amount of elevation and cover the same mileage. Walking from south to north and watching as the Matterhorn grows in size directly in front of you is a definite sight to see. This view is particularly special because it puts you on the west side of this monstrous peak, a view of the mountain that is seldom seen by the majority of visitors. Plan for a full day of spectacular views if you choose this option. Because it is a longer hike, be sure to pay attention to the weather. See our tips and hints here.
Hörnlihutte from Schwarzsee
Length: 5 miles | Duration: 5 hours Finally, lets take a walk up to the Hörnlihutte, basecamp for those who choose to ascend the Matterhorn via the Hörnligrat. The walk from the valley floor or from Hotel Schwarzsee is fairly steep, but consistent in grade. As you ascend higher and leave the tree line, you will have unimpeded views of more 4000-meter peaks than almost anywhere else in the valley. It truly is splendid. Be sure to bring your camera and snap photos of the summit of the Matterhorn as you stand less than 2000 meters below its summit. When you reach the Hörnlihutte, be sure to take a moment to experience the mountaineering culture as climbers mill about, tending their gear, resting from their climbs and preparing for the next adventure. As you prepare for your next adventure, be sure to contact us for more information on any of these hikes and to visit our Tour Calendar for a listing of our guided hiking tours throughout Switzerland and the Alps.
You can experience these hikes and other classic hikes and excursions around Zermatt on one of our guided or self-guided tours including the Haute Route and Best of the Swiss Alps, both of which can be offered on a guided and self-guided basis