True to our motto "Stay active. Stay well" there is hardly a sport that I do not attempt. But now in autumn, hiking is of course my favourite activity of all. At the moment, it is more beautiful in the mountains than at any other time of the year: mild temperatures, sugared peaks and nature in its most beautiful blaze of colour.
Of course, I don't want to miss out on insider information when hiking either, so I approached our hiking expert Aurelie Bourquin from Zermatters with some questions. The first thing she emphasises is how important it is to prepare before a hike. The days are getting noticeably shorter and the nights longer. Naturally this also has an influence on the time to set off on and return from a hike. Therefore, it is important to find out the time of sunset in advance in order to be back in Zermatt before nightfall. Furthermore, autumn naturally brings not only shorter but also colder days, and you should be prepared for this when hiking. It is best to pack a fleece, softshell and/or a light down jacket and, depending on the weather conditions, waterproof trousers and even a hat. Another point to bear in mind: the cooler it becomes, the slower the trails dry out. Frost can form here and there, which increases the risk of slipping. Therefore, shoes should be ankle-high, waterproof and have a treaded sole with good grip. Checking the weather forecast before a hike is essential. In autumn, the snow line can fall below 1,000 metres, so you should be prepared: keep an eye on the weather forecast and take altitude into account. South-facing ascents are less likely to encounter snow. In any case, it's best to carry maps, touring apps and/or a GPS device. Furthermore, autumn is the end of the season and the beginning of the winter break for many mountain huts. It is therefore advisable to check the opening times before setting off on a tour.
According to Aurelie, the 5-lake hike is ideal for beginners and families. It takes about three hours and you cover around 450 metres in altitude. The trail connects the lakes Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee and the Matterhorn is reflected as a perfect photo motif in three of them. Ze Seewijinu is Aurelie's favourite restaurant for a bite to eat. The cosy lodge is located at 2300 metres above sea level between Gornergrat and Rothorn. All the dishes are freshly prepared and for Aurelie there is nothing better than enjoying them with a direct view of the Matterhorn. I've also stayed there with Alex before, there's a choice of double, triple and quadruple rooms with a private or shared bathroom. That was fun!
Another suitable hike for beginners is Zermatt - Zmutt. Aurelie prefers to return via Furi and the suspension bridge. For lunch, she recommends the family-run restaurant Blatten at the foot of the Matterhorn. A visit to this hamlet also offers a tour of the Gorner Gorge and, in summer, the Ricola herb garden. It is easily accessible within 40 minutes from Zermatt via the trail to Zmutt or otherwise via Moos. During the winter season, the restaurant offers fondue on Wednesday evenings.
For advanced hikers, Aurelie recommends three different tours. Firstly, the hike via Edelweiss - Trift - Hobalm-Arbenbach back via Zmutt. This takes seven to eight hours and you cover about 1200 metres in altitude on the 20-kilometre tour. Those in the know, stop at the mountain hut Trift at 2337 metres above sea level, famous for its iced tea and homemade cakes. Afterwards, you can enjoy a picnic or, of course, lunch at Ze Seewjinu.
Secondly, the hike from Zermatt via Zmutt to Stafel, which is shorter and less intense with only five to six hours and about 600 metres in altitude. Here Aurelie recommends bringing your own picnic so you can take a break at the lakes around the inner Staffel area. Nowhere is it nicer to eat outside than here!
Thirdly, our hiking expert recommends the Europaweg trail via Randa from Sunegga. This takes about six to seven hours and you cover 500 metres in altitude. The highlight here is definitely the crossing of the longest suspension footbridge in the Alps. At almost 500 metres, you can walk over the Zermatt valley on a grated walkway that you can see through. The bridge traverses the Grabengufer of the Lärchberg on the Höuschbiel; at its highest point 85 metres above the ground! If you look up as well as down, you can enjoy the view of the Matterhorn, the Weisshorn and the Bernese Alps. Admission is free and the bridge can also be reached directly from Randa in two to two and a half hours hiking time. Important: it is essential that you do not suffer from vertigo in order to cross the bridge. Unfortunately, this is not possible in winter, as the bridge is not passable then.
By the way, Aurelie's favourite hike leads over the Höhbalmen, it is the so-called Edelweiss hike. She likes this tour so much because you don't meet many people along the way. Furthermore, it offers one of the most beautiful vantage points in Zermatt, with a view of the Matterhorn including the North Face, Zmutt Ridge, Breithorn, Liskamm and Monte Rosa massif! With a duration of seven and a half hours and a length of 20.7 kilometres, the tour is definitely only for advanced hikers.
Aurelie's favourite hike is now also my goal for this autumn and for this I now accompany all our guests on their hikes. It's a matter of training, because one day I want to stand on this vantage point and enjoy the incredible view!