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High Passes of Valais Complete: Ulrichen to Zinal

High Passes of Valais Complete: Ulrichen to Zinal

Overview

This 12-day trek connects the most beautiful valleys in the canton of Valais. Your adventure starts in the uppermost valley along the Rhone River – Goms, famous for its authentic villages with wooden houses and whitewashed churches and ends in the valleys of Mattertal and Val d’Anniviers. This tour offers a great diversity of landscapes – snow-capped peaks and Mediterranean-style lakeside promenades, charming villages, sleepy mountain valleys, green-blue lakes, delightful rolling hills and high alpine passes bursting with panoramic views. A great adventure for those who love pristine mountain landscapes and cosy accommodation.

Click to view map

*This map is only for general reference; detailed route maps will be provided in your pre-departure package.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Ulrichen

Your tour starts in Ulrichen. The Valais village of Ulrichen, with its sun-browned wooden houses, well-tended farms and lush pastures, lies at the branch-off from Goms to the Nufenenpass and the Ticino Val Bedretto.

Day 2: Ulrichen – Blitzingen | 16 km

Today you will mostly be walking in the shade of larch and spruce trees, interspersed with occasional sections out in the open. The mountainside the trail goes along is often steep, though the well-constructed pathway means this is no issue. Through the trees, you can catch a glimpse of quaint little Valais villages and the Hangend Glacier down the valley. Overnight in Blitzingen – a typical Valais village, with dark wooden huts and winding alleyways.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 16 km / 4.5 h ↑ 640 m ↓ 695 m
  • Accommodation: Guesthouse Taverne zum guten Freund in Blitzingen

Day 3: Blitzingen – Binn | 14 km

In the forest or alongside the Rotten (Rhone) river, through the villages of Steinhaus, Mühlebach and Ernen, the trail goes through the Goms Valley. It is well worth spending a little time in these villages, to take a closer look at their traditional Valais houses. The village of Ernen was awarded the most beautiful village in Switzerland in 2018. From Ernen, follow the old link road into the Binn Valley. Dry-stone walls make a home for lizards, while all kinds of different alpine flowers bloom on the meadows.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 14 km / 4 h ↑470 m ↓300 m
  • Accommodation: Pension Albrun in Binn

Day 4: Binn – Brig / Rosswald | 17 km

The attractive pass hike over the Saflischpass affords the first views of the Valais 4000-metre-mountain world. The village of Rosswald offers views down into the Rhone Valley from its scenic terrace. At the end of the hike overnight stay in Brig.

Day 5: Brig / Rosswald – Simplon Pass | 19 km

By bus and the cable car back to Rosswald. A varied stage, with panoramic scenery throughout Alpine climb to Bortelhütte, blueberry picking above Rothwald in autumn. The trail leads along with the pass road gallery from Schallbett to the Simplon Pass.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 19 km / 6 h ↑1010 m ↓900 m
  • Accommodation: Pension Hospiz in Simplon Pass

Day 6: Simplon Pass – Visperterminen | 16 km

From the Simplon Pass, the path immediately begins to go uphill on the climb up the Bistine Pass. Ahead lies the Nanx Valley, though the trail does not go down it but instead traverses up the valley. At the top of the valley, at the foot of the Fletschhorn mountain with the Gamsa Glacier, you hike back down the valley on the other side. Enjoy the view of Mischabel mountains with the 4545 metre Dom.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 16 km / 5 h ↑770 m ↓560 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Rothorn*** in Visperterminen

Day 7: Visperterminen – Saas-Fee | 21 km

In the morning, the left side of the valley is still in the shade. On a hot summer’s day’s hiking, this is a welcome start. Today’s hike will offer some wonderful views in upper Valais with little height difference along mountain slopes through forests and alpine pastures. On your way, enjoy the un-browned old storage huts, barns and stables. The descent to Saas-Grund is rather steep and tricky. As the stage comes to an end, there is one more challenge with a 250 m ascent to Saas-Fee. Here, there is a great choice of restaurants and bars offering various refreshments and delicious food. 

  • Walking for the day: approx. 21 km / 6.5 h ↑755 m ↓1400 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Alphubel*** in Saas-Fee

Day 8: Saas-Fee – Grächen | 20 km

The trail from Saas-Fee to Grächen is spectacular, extremely exposed in parts with steel cables providing secure holds on precarious sections and demands a certain head for heights. Begin by hiking through larch, stone pine and spruce trees. The surroundings become rockier and rockier, and the drop next to the path is steep down the mountain. Walk along the Saas Valley at 2,000 m above sea level. Dizzying views deep into the Saastal and enthralling views to the Fletschhorn, Lagginhorn and Weissmies. Take the cable car from the Hannigalp towards Grächen.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 20 km / 7 h ↑1220 m ↓1370 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Eden*** in Grächen

Day 9: Grächen – Gruben | 13 km

By bus to St. Niklaus and with the cable car up to the hamlet of Jungu, perched like an eagle’s nest above Switzerland’s deepest valley. After Jungu, the trail continues uphill through sparse forest. After a while, the forest ends, and hikers pass over the mountainside of Troära and a little downhill over a field of scree. This standpoint affords some truly glorious views of the 4000 m peaks around the Dom. Another steep climb follows to the Augstbord Pass, at 2,894 m. The path now goes uphill and down dale, crossing cow pastures and going through forests on the 1,000 m descent down to Gruben in the Turtmann Valley.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 13 km / 5.5 h ↑1025 m ↓1200 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Schwarzhorn* in Gruben

Day 10: Gruben – Saint-Luc | 10 km

Today, your luggage will be transferred directly to Zinal, so make sure to have all needed in your day pack. Walk along the Meidsee lake, not far to the Meidpass, which also takes you over the linguistic border. German is spoken in the Turtmann Valley, while Val de Zinal is French-speaking. During the ascent, you will be able to spot the summits of the Bishorn and Weisshorn mountains, two proud 4,000 m peaks in the Valais. From the pass, descend onto a marshy plateau with several small lakes. After Combavert, the climb is amidst blueberries, juniper and a few larch trees until you reach the historic Hotel Weisshorn.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 10 km / 4.5 h ↑1180 m ↓635 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Weisshorn* near Saint-Luc

Day 11: Saint-Luc – Zinal | 12 km

After breakfast, descend into the Val d’Anniviers along the trail of Pointes de Nava. Slowly dropping below the tree line, a very steep descent begins around 2 km before the village of Zinal, a grand base for both summer and winter sports.

  • Walking for the day: approx. 12 km / 3.5 h ↑245 m ↓915 m
  • Accommodation: Hotel Europe*** in Zinal

Day 12: Departure

Return home or individual stay extension.

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in a mix of nice hotels, guesthouses and pensions in double or twin private en-suite rooms, except at the Pension Hospiz in Simplon Pass and Hotel Weisshorn, where no en-suite rooms are available. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

All breakfast and one dinner (in Hotel Weisshorn) included. Picnic lunches are optional at an extra charge and can be ordered locally. You can have dinner at your hotel or the nearby restaurants.

Difficulty & terrain

A smooth start in the beginning in the valley of Goms. As soon as you reach Simplon Pass, the trails get more rugged. Some difficult walks, especially the one from Saas-Fee to Grächen. Good physical condition is required. Please check the kilometres and the altitude change in the day-to-day itinerary above (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available from end-June till end-September. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

The climate is moderately continental, with cold winters and warm summers. In autumn and spring, and sometimes even in winter, the foehn can blow from the south. In summer, the temperatures are generally pleasant. However, sometimes there can be rains and thunderstorms.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airports for this tour are Zurich (ZRH) or Geneva (GVA).

By train or bus
  • Take the train from Zürich Airport via Brig (4h 25m). For more information and timetables, please visit Swiss Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) or use the Omio planner above
  • By car: Parking spaces in Ulrichen/Oberwald. Parking spaces in Brig (CHF 8 per day). Return journey by bus and train from Zinal via Vissoie, Sierre and Visp to Ulrichen. Duration approx. 3 hours.

Inclusions

Included

  • 11 overnights with breakfast as detailed in the itinerary
  • Dinner included in Hotel Weisshorn
  • Luggage transfer on all walking days, except on Day 10 – in the morning your luggage will be transferred directly to Zinal where it will join you on next day (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
  • Detailed route notes (1 x per room) & GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers
  • Lunches, dinners (except at Hotel Weisshorn), drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Extra charges may be applicable for last-minute bookings for this specific tour!
  • Single room supplement for members of a group
  • This holiday is NOT available for solo travellers
  • Extra nights in Ulrichen, Simplon Pass and Zinal are available upon request

Reviews

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Rating

     

Average rating:  5 stars  from 1 reviews

maria gontarczyk5 stars

The trip was well organised as far as the hotels and transport of the luggage go. Switzerland is a walking paradise, no doubt. The views are fantastic, the food was good but expensive - such is life in Switzerland. My only comments - the section that was "extremely exposed" from Saas Fee to Grächen should also carry an advise that it should not be undertaken in bad weather. It may be a redundant comment but I think it should be added. Another comment - on site we were given a little booklet about the track - it did not match the instructions that we received from you, also we were not sure about the hotels where we were going, we went by provided tickets with the names of the hotels but we were not quite sure which instructions were correct. These are minor annoyances but pesky, nevertheless. It would also be helpful if we had some clearer and more detailed instructions how to start the walk the next day. We use maps.me so we managed but it would be nice to have some little help.