Crossing a mountain pass is a very special experience: the sweaty ascent, imposing mountain scenery, and the discovery of landscapes on the other side. On the Alpine Passes Trail, you can enjoy many of these special moments. This long-distance hiking trail in Switzerland takes you over some of the most beautiful passes in the Grisons and Valais Alps. Covering more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) and with over 31,000 meters (101,700 feet) of altitude difference, the trail is no walk in the park. However, you are rewarded with idyllic alpine scenery, majestic mountain massifs, picturesque valleys, spectacular lakes, and quaint little villages. This is a hiking trail that will make your heart race and your calves burn – are you ready for an adventure?
The trail begins in the town of Chur in the canton of Grisons, the easternmost region of Switzerland. You hike over numerous passes through the cantons of Ticino and Valais to Saint-Gingolph on Lake Geneva. I've divided the trail into 34 stages that end either in a village or at a mountain hut. This way you are sure to have a roof over your head and a tasty meal every evening. As the choice of accommodation is often limited, it is definitely worth booking your accommodation in advance. This way, you’re on the safe side and don’t have to worry about it during your hike – you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes care-free. If you don't want to walk the 34 stages in one go, you can also choose individual parts of the trail. As you regularly descend into a valley, you can access local transport. You can also reach the start and endpoints of the long-distance hiking trail by train.
You need to be fit and ready for alpine heights to take on the Alpine Passes Trail. You should wear sturdy shoes, and bring along sun protection, clothing suitable for rapid weather changes, plenty of fluids and food. It’s also a good idea to carry hiking poles to give you a firmer foothold on loose ground and protect your knees on the long descents.
Are you ready for the mountains? You can look forward to an incredible hiking adventure with countless impressive panoramas over the Swiss mountains. You can experience pure mountain fun on the Alpine Passes Trail.
The first stage on the Alpine Passes Trail starts out relaxed with a good eleven kilometers. You walk from Chur along the Rhine to Tamins. Before you start the actual tour, it is worth taking a round through Chur, the oldest city in Switzerland.Then you leave Chur to the west, soon cross the Rhine and walk along the southern flank of the Calanda to your today's destination Tamins. In the village you will find a small selection of accommodation and shopping opportunities. Incidentally, in Reichenau, a district of Tamins, the front and rear Rhine meet and flow as the Rhine further north.
On the second stage of the Alpine Passes Trail, you will get to know the impressive Rhine Gorge. Along the 25-kilometer stretch from Tamins to Ilanz, you can enjoy very different perspectives on and into the gorge of the Vorderrhein - be it from the Versamer Tobelbrücke or directly on the bank of the river.
You hike in a fun up and down through the wonderful landscape of the canton of Graubünden and let your varied hiking day end in a relaxed way in Ilanz, your stage destination on the banks of the Vorderrhein. If you still have time, it is worth visiting the Museum Regiunal Surselva, which is located in Casa Carniec. The local museum gives you an interesting insight into the special features of the region.
Get recommendations on the best single tracks, peaks, & plenty of other exciting outdoor places.
Stage 3 on the Alpine Passes Trail is quite tough with its almost 26 kilometers and 1,300 meters of altitude. For this you will get to know the picturesque Val Lumnezia, Valley of Light, with its picturesque mountain villages, cultural and historical treasures and sunny slopes. The first half of the way you hike steadily uphill. However, your efforts will be rewarded with unique views.Vrin, today's destination, exudes a very special charm. It is not for nothing that the so-called Wakker Prize has already been awarded to the place. With this award, the Swiss Heritage Protection Association honors communities that are committed to exemplary site protection. Vrin is the perfect place to end a long day of hiking in a relaxed way. It is best to reserve your place to sleep in advance, there is only one hotel in Vrin.
The fourth stage on the Alpine Passes Path demands a lot of power from your calves: On the 18-kilometer stage from Vrin to the Capanna Scaletta, there is at least 1,350 vertical meters to be cracked. However, once you have mastered the long ascent to the Plaun da Greina plateau, an exciting mountain world with very different layers of rock and a wonderful backdrop awaits you.On the plateau you can strengthen yourself in the Terrihütte and take a well-deserved break. Then you hike on a relatively flat route through the alpine world to your today's destination, the Capanna Scaletta - fantastically located at the western entrance to the Greina plain.
You can take a relaxed approach to the fifth stage on the Alpine Passes Trail: on your way to Olivone, there are almost twelve kilometers waiting for you - and you hike them exclusively downhill. So you can enjoy the beautiful landscape around the Capanna Scaletta with your morning coffee. Then it goes over the Greinpass and always near the Brenno down the valley.On the way you pass some small towns where you can find refreshment stops. Or you can make yourself comfortable on the riverside and enjoy your own provisions and enjoy the wonderful landscape. In Olivone you will find cozy inns where you can stay for the night.
The sixth stage of the Alpine Passes Trail is only eleven kilometers long, but your way from Olivone to Acquacalda is almost steadily uphill. You hike through the idyllic Valle Santa Maria, which extends from Olivone up to the Passo del Lucomagno. In the tranquil town of Dötra you can make yourself comfortable on the terrace of the Grotto Dötra and enjoy the beauty of nature around you.On your further uphill path you will walk along picturesque mountain flower meadows with a moor-like character. Once you have reached Croce Portera, the vertical meters for today are over and your stage destination is not far. In Acquacalda, the Pro Natura Center Lucomagno awaits you with a campsite, bungalows or hotel rooms. It is best to reserve in advance: pronatura-lucomagno.ch/de. If you want to end your hike here, you can take the bus down to the valley from June to October (but be sure to check the timetable beforehand).
On the seventh stage of the Alpine Passes Trail, you will get to know one of the largest and quietest plateaus in the Swiss Alps: the Val di Piora. Look forward to a breathtaking landscape and the unique silence that can only be experienced so easily at alpine heights. The 26-kilometer hike starts in Acquacalda.At the beginning you hike up to the Passo del Sole. The landscape around you changes, the rock changes from sediment to granite. Then you continue on the plateau: You walk through the extensive high valley, past grazing cattle, shy marmots and let yourself be lulled by the tranquility that surrounds you. There are several lakes in Val di Piora, at Lago Ritóm you walk directly along the shore. The path then leads you down into the valley to your stage destination Airolo. In the village you will find accommodation, restaurants and access to local transport.
Stage 8 on the Alpine Passes Path awaits you with a concentrated load of fantastic views. On your way from Airolo to Capanna Corno-Gris there are more than 25 kilometers and a good 1,600 meters in altitude in front of you - but the landscape is an absolute pleasure. After your first sweaty ascent, you hike through the wonderful Val Bedretto, surrounded by the giants of the Alps.The last part of the tour then climbs steeply again, but soon you can see the Capanna Gorno-Gries in the distance. The mountain hut is beautifully situated in the middle of the Lepontine Alps and offers you a cozy roof over your head as well as a hearty meal. Thanks to its idiosyncratic shape, it is also called the Alpine spaceship.
Stage 9 on the Alpine Passes Trail leads you from Capanna Corno-Gries to Ulrichen. You leave the heights of the Val Corno and hike down into Goms. There are hardly any climbs waiting for you on the 13-kilometer stage, you mainly climb gently downhill. After a hearty breakfast at 2,338 meters above sea level, you lace up your hiking boots and start the day.After a good four kilometers you will reach the Griessee, one of the highest reservoirs in Switzerland at an altitude of 2,386 meters. The water of the lake stands out from the surrounding rocks in a wonderful blue. Then the long descent to Ulrichen begins. In the town on the Rhone you have a good selection of accommodation and access to the rail network.
Stage 10 on the Alpine Passes Trail takes you almost 15 kilometers above the Rhone through Goms. In a relaxed up and down, you hike along mountain slopes, through forests and over alpine meadows. You don't have to master big climbs today. On the way you can still enjoy fantastic views of the valley.
The Goms experienced an economic and cultural heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries. The more than 70 churches and chapels in the rustic villages, which have retained their special charm to this day, bear witness to this time. If you want to take a closer look at one of the villages, you can simply leave the height and continue down on the Rhone to the stage destination Blitzingen.
The eleventh stage on the Alpine Passes Trail takes you from Blitzingen a good bit along the Rhone, before you turn off towards Binn. You can look forward to a picturesque landscape, moderate climbs and great views along the 16-kilometer route.
You leave Blitzingen, walk a bit through the forest uphill and then through several quaint hamlets. The path leads you further and further along the banks of the Rhone, also called Rotten in this area, and offers you wonderful views of the green valley. You pass Ernen and soon you leave the river, which continues its journey to the Mediterranean. The next river valley is not long in coming: the Binna meanders leisurely through the Binntal landscape park and leads you through the Twingischlucht to your stage destination Binn.
Stage 12 on the Alpine Passes Trail takes you high up: From the Saflisch Pass at 2,563 meters above sea level, you can see the Valais four-thousand-meter peaks for the first time. Of course, you have to earn this panorama in advance: That's why you will find 1,230 vertical meters on the 16-kilometer hike from Binn to Rosswald.Your stage destination Rosswald is a picturesque terrace village with a fantastic view of the Rhone Valley. At 1,800 meters on the edge of the Simplon you will find a few places to stay. Rosswald is mainly geared towards winter sports, but the village is also a welcome stop for hikers. If you want to end your hike on the Alpine Passes path here for the time being, then you can take the cable car down to the valley.
Stage 13 on the Alpine Passes Path will be varied: the almost 20-kilometer tour from Rosswald takes you up into the alpine heights and then with great views on the pass road gallery to the Simplon Pass. A lot of hiking fun awaits you on the Gibjeri path - provided you have a head for heights. But don't worry, all narrow places are insured with wire ropes.After a refreshment in the Bortelhütte, it goes up and down through alpine terrain. The last section of the path you hike a little downhill to the Simplon Pass at an altitude of almost 2,000 meters, your destination for today. There are two hotels on the pass, access to public transport and several small lakes for an evening stroll.
The starting point of the 14th stage on the Alpine Passes Trail is marked by the eight-meter-high golden eagle on the Simplon Pass. Here you start the almost 24-kilometer hike to Gspon. Right at the beginning you can expect a crisp ascent to the Bistinepass - after that, however, it continues to be enjoyable and promising. You look at the glaciated mountains above the Simplon and can see the Bernese Alps in the north.
On the plateau you hike through a dreamlike mountain landscape and let your gaze wander over the majestic peaks all around. You pass the Obers Fulmoos and leisurely hike downhill to your stage destination Gspon. The dreamy village is located high above the Vispertal, including a wide view of the Saas Valley and the 3,800 meter high Balfrin.
On the 15th stage of the Alpine Passes Trail, you can look forward to a wonderful high-altitude hike. No long climbs await you on the 17-kilometer tour from Gspon to Saas Fee, so the focus is on enjoyment. You walk along mountain slopes, through forests and over alpine meadows. And there is also a fantastic panorama of the chain of four thousand meter peaks.It is particularly beautiful to hike over the Siwibodu plateau. Enjoy the fantastic landscape, treat yourself to a break every now and then and let the tranquility of the Alps affect you. Soon you will leave the alpine heights and descend into the Saas Valley to your stage destination Saas Fee. The popular winter sports resort is ideally suited to hikers in summer and offers you everything you need after a long day of hiking.
The 16th stage on the Alpine Passes Trail offers you grandiose views down into the Saas Valley and fantastic views of the Fletschhorn, Lagginhorn and Weissmies. The almost 20 kilometer long stage from Saas Fee to Grächen runs mostly parallel to the Saas Valley and then turns left at Hannigalp towards Mattertal. The path is very exposed in places, but wire ropes are attached to secure it in tricky passages.After you have thoroughly enjoyed the view, you can stop in the Hannigalp - and enjoy even more mountain panorama. You simply can’t get enough of this breathtaking mountain world. In your stage destination Grächen you will find several accommodations for you night as well as a supermarket. A little deeper in the valley, in St. Nikolaus, there is also a train station.
Strengthen yourself for the 17th stage on the Alpine Passes Trail with a good breakfast. The 22-kilometer stage from Grächen to Gruben awaits you with an ascent of more than 1,800 meters. That's an announcement - but by now you're already more than good at training. You run from Grächen down to Mattertal, cross the Mattervispa and then start the long ascent up to the Augustbordpass.The view on the almost 2,900 meter high mountain pass is tremendous: You look at the Mischabel Mountains, to which the cathedral belongs. The 4,545 meter summit is the highest mountain that lies entirely in Switzerland. You have more than earned a short break. The challenging part for today is done, from now on it's only downhill to your stage destination Gruben.
More than half of the Alpine Passes trail is already behind you - feel free to pat yourself on the shoulder for this achievement. Then the hiking boots are laced and it continues with stage 18 of the long-distance hiking trail. The 21-kilometer hike takes you from Gruben to Zinal. Right at the beginning it goes uphill to the Meidpass - then you continue hiking with pleasure.
Arrived on the Meidpass (2,790 meters), you have a wonderful view over the Bishorn and the Weisshorn. You make the way to the Weisshorn on the beautifully designed planet path. The last few kilometers to your stage destination Zinal are relaxed on a relatively flat stretch. A large selection of accommodation and restaurants as well as a swimming pool await you in the resort.
A blue gem awaits you on the 19th stage of the Alpine Passes Trail: Lac de Moiry lies like a sapphire in the picturesque mountains. On your 22-kilometer hike from Zinal to La Sage, you can enjoy fantastic views of the reservoir - and, in the meantime, master just under 1,800 vertical meters.You leave Zinal and start the first steep climb up to the Col de Sorebois. Once you have crossed this, you hike a little downhill to the shore of Lac de Moiry. You can plan a break on the shores of the lake at an altitude of almost 2,250 meters - the backdrop is just gorgeous.The next ascent to the Col de Torrent is already waiting for you - but the wonderful mountain panorama remains true to you. If you have also mastered this pass, you hike steeply downhill to your stage destination La Sage.
With a good ten kilometers, the 20th stage on the Alpine Passes Trail offers you a relaxing day of hiking - which is also good for in between. So you can start the day relaxed and leave after a hearty breakfast in La Sage.You hike in the Val d’Arolla through beautiful forests and over flowering meadows. In Les Haudères you will meet the Borgne, which you will follow on its way towards Sion. You will pass several beautiful rest areas where you can take a relaxed break - you have enough time. Arrived at your stage destination Arolla, you can end the day relaxing in one of the hotels. Tomorrow's stage will be crisper again, so treat yourself to some rest with a clear conscience.
Stage 21 of the Alpine Passes Trail brings you close to 3,000 meters: on your way from Arolla to Cabane de Prafleuri, you cross the Col de Riedmatten with its 2,918 meters. It goes without saying that the prospects on the 18-kilometer hike will once again be tremendous. However, the ascent to the pass is tough, the first six kilometers of the route are steep uphill.Once you have crossed the pass, the Lac des Dix lies in front of you, which is picturesquely embedded in the mountain landscape. You hike along the banks of the reservoir and are welcome to take a break and recharge your batteries. A few meters of altitude are still waiting for you on your way over the Col de Roux. However, once you have crossed this pass, your stage destination, the Cabane de Prafleuri at the foot of Mont Blava, is already in sight.
On the 22nd stage of the Alpine Passes Path, you will cross four passes and experience impressive views of the glacier tongues of the Valais Alps. With a little luck you can see edelweiss, chamois and ibex on the steep slopes on the way - more mountain idyll is hardly possible. After a hearty breakfast in the Cabane de Prafleuri, you start the almost 22-kilometer tour to Mauvoisin.On today's stage there are more than 1,000 meters of altitude on the program, but there is no long ascent waiting for you. So you can hike through the wonderful alpine world with great pleasure and reach Lac de Louvie about halfway through. The mountain lake blends in beautifully with the landscape and looks almost heavenly. Find a nice spot on the bank for a break and enjoy this well-deserved panorama to the maximum. At your stage destination, you can rent a room at the Hôtel de Mauvoisin. And since you can hardly get enough of mountain lakes, there is still a view of the Lac de Mauvoisin after work.
On the 23rd stage of the Alpine Passes Trail, everything is full right at the beginning: From Mauvoisin you hike steeply up the mountain to the Col des Otanes (2,846 meters). The landscape up here consists mainly of rocks and ice: The Grand Combin towers above you, and below you you can see the Corbassière Glacier.
You hike downhill again on the other side of the pass and then continue on a relatively flat route through the beautiful mountains. On the way, some cabanes with hearty fortifications await you. Shortly before the end of the 21-kilometer stage, you have to earn a few more meters in altitude: You hike up to the Col de Mille. Today's stage destination, the Cabane du Col de Mille, is already in sight as soon as you have reached the top.
Stage 24 on the Alpine Passes Trail will be more relaxed for a change: On your way from the Cabane du Col de Mille to Bourg-Saint-Pierre, there are only a good twelve kilometers ahead of you and you will walk almost exclusively downhill. At the start of the day you can enjoy a fantastic panorama of the Mont Blanc and Grand Combin massif - a day in the Alps could hardly start better.It then goes leisurely over expansive alpine meadows into Val D’Entremont. In the tranquil town of Bourg-Saint-Pierre you will find a hotel for the night. The village with its old houses and the renovated mill exudes a very special charm. As the gateway to Italy on the Great Saint Bernhard, Bourg-Saint-Pierre has had numerous visitors in the past: Roman troops, parts of the Napoleonic army, millions of pilgrims, travelers, traders and probably Hannibal on his crossing of the Alps.