Explore the Swiss Alps on this nine-day trekking itinerary. Start in the Valais Valley—the main gateway to the surrounding mountains. From here, head east as you continue deeper into Switzerland. You'll spend the next several days navigating along the base of glaciers, hiking through thick pine forests, and exploring small alpine towns. Your destination is Zermatt, at the base of the Matterhorn—you'll reach here on day seven, leaving you enough time to hike around the area and take in the iconic views.

Highlights

  • Stay the night in lakeside mountain huts
  • Look for wildlife, like ibex and marmots
  • Cross high rocky passes
  • Hike through alpine peaks and meadows
  • Take in views of 13,00 ft (4,000 m) peaks

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Martigny Fully
Day 2 Martigny – Fionnay – La Louvie Hut Louvie Hut
Day 3 Louvie Hut - Col de la Louvie & Col de Prafleuri Pass - Prafleuri Hut Prafleuri Hut
Day 4 Prafleuri Hut - Col des Roux & Col de Riedmatten Pass - Arolla Arolla
Day 5 Arolla - Col Torrent Pass & Lake Moiry - Zinal Zinal
Day 6 Zinal - Col de la Forcletta Pass - Grüben Grüben
Day 7 Grüben - Augstborg Pass - St. Niklaus - Zermatt Zermatt
Day 8 Roundtrip Day Hike from Zermatt to Zmutt Zermatt
Day 9 Depart Zermatt  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Geneva & Transfer to Martigny

Aiguille du Dru in the Mont Blanc massif
Aiguille du Dru in the Mont Blanc massif

Welcome to France! You'll arrive in Martigny to check in to your hotel and receive your travel details. The closest airport is Geneva, with trains regularly making the 1.5 hour trip from the airport to the Martigny city center.

Martigny is located at the elbow of the Valais Valley and is mainly a gateway to the surrounding mountains and valleys. Spend your evening relaxing and settling in before your hike. If you would like to get out and explore, the nearby vineyards and Fondation Gianadda (a fine art museum) are worth a visit. 

Wander the city center in the evening to shop and find a cozy restaurant for a traditional mountain dinner.

Day 2: Martigny – Fionnay – La Louvie Hut

Alpine daisy, a common sight at lower elevations
Alpine daisy, a common sight at lower elevations

From Martigny, transfer (either by public bus or with a private transfer) to Fionnay, a little hamlet in Val de Bagne where you start hiking.

From Fionnay, hike up the west-facing slopes above the village on a direct—but steep—path to the Louvie Hut. This lakeside hut is where you'll retire for the evening. From here, you can take in perfect views of the Grand Combin's glaciated north face (and keep an eye out for marmots, who live in the high-elevation rocky terrain). 

Vertical gain: 2,460 ft (750 m) 
Hiking time: 3 hrs

Day 3: Louvie Hut - Col de la Louvie & Col de Prafleuri Pass - Prafleuri Hut

Alpine bluebell
Alpine bluebell

Take a rarely traveled section of trail today through the mineral topography of the high alpine environment. One of today's highlights includes hiking at the foot of Bec des Rosses, whose north face hosts Verbier's famed ski freeride competition. As you reach the foot of the glaciers that descend from the summit of Rosablanche Peak, you'll cross the Col de Louvie and Col de Prafleuri passes. 

This section of trail is well-known, with its endpoints considered two "capitals of the Alps." This section is a large rocky desert, due to glacial retreat upslope. Vegetation is scarce here, with the exception of tiny colorful alpine flowers adapted to the harsh climate. 

From here, descend to Prafleuri Hut for the night.

Elevation change: +3,182 feet (970 m), -1,837 feet (560 m)
Hiking time: 6 hours

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Day 4: Prafleuri Hut - Col des Roux & Col de Riedmatten Pass - Arolla

Arolla pine forest
Arolla pine forest

Get an early start to ascend to Col des Roux Pass this morning. You'll follow a balcony trail above Lac des Dix (a 745 ft (227 m) deep lake formed by the Grande Dixence Dam) to reach the foot of your next ascent, this time up to Col de Riedmatten Pass. The pass ends in a gully, with hand cables installed alongside the trail for safety.

Once you've gotten over the pass you'll hike down to Arolla in the Herens Valley, a picturesque village that gets its name from the Arolla pine. You'll spend the night here, surrounded by flower-decorated Swiss chalets and Herens cows.  

Elevation change:
+2,461 feet (750 m), -4,331 feet (1,320 m)
Hiking time: 7 hours

Day 5: Arolla - Col Torrent Pass & Lake Moiry - Zinal

Lake Autannes in the morning
Lake Autannes in the morning

Start off with a transfer to Les Haudères and Villa. Leaving Villa, you'll hike through flower-covered alpine meadows to the Col de Torrent Pass. Pass Lake Autannes and continue all the way to Lac de Moiry (another dammed lake). Once you reach the lake, you can choose whether you want to continue on foot via Corne de Sorebois or take a bus from the Moiry Dam to your evening accommodations in Zinal.

If you choose to take the bus it's worth stopping in the village of Grimentz, considered to be one of the Swiss Alps' nicest villages with dark wooden houses and hand-carved ornamentation.

Elevation change: +3,937 feet  (1,200 m), -2,198 feet (670 m)
Hiking time: 5.5 hours

Day 6: Zinal - Col de la Forcletta Pass - Grüben

Pennine Alps near Val 'd Anniviers
Pennine Alps near Val 'd Anniviers

Leave the Anniviers Valley today as you hike toward the Forcletta Ridgeline and Col de la Forcletta Pass. This scenic vantage point sits high above the pastures of Turtmanntal and the Grüben Valley, while still down the valley from the Turtmann and Brunegghorn Glaciers, giving you views of some of the area's 13,123-foot (4,000 m) peaks.

The Turtmann Valley is the most remote in the Valais/ Wallis region, and less frequented by hikers. At the south end of the Valais sits one of the most famous and easy to summit peaks—Bishorn.

Stay the night in Grüben in the valley, a tiny town with only one accommodation option for trekkers. 

Elevation change: +3,937 feet (1,200 m), -3,445 feet (1,050 m)
Hiking time: 7 hours

Day 7: Grüben - Augstborg Pass - St. Niklaus - Zermatt

Old wooden barns in Zermatt valley
Old wooden barns in Zermatt valley

Start the day with a hike up to the mountainside chalets above Grüben. Then hit Augstbord Pass, an easy, high perch that marks your trip's last section at altitude. Once you're downhill, you'll find yourself in Jungu, a remote village that can only be reached by foot of aerial tram. It's a traditional Swiss village, surrounded by expansive pastures and aging wooden barns, with views of the Dom de Mischabel range (the third-highest summit in the Alps). 

Take the aerial tram from Jungu to St. Niklaus, the first village in the valley toward Zermatt. Spend some time exploring, then take the half-hour train to Zermatt in time for dinner. Spend the night in Zermatt. 

Elevation change: +3,773 feet (1,150 m), -2,953 feet (900 m)
Hiking time: 5 hours

Day 8: Roundtrip Day Hike from Zermatt to Zmutt

Hillsides surrounding the Matterhorn
Hillsides surrounding the Matterhorn

Head out on a day hike today to the hamlet of Zmutt, home to charming chalets nestled at the foot of the Matterhorn. You'll start your hike from the city center, walking through the small hamlets of Herbrigg and Hubel. From here, follow a south-facing balcony trail across the valley towards the north face of the Matterhorn. From this point, it's a short descent into the small hamlet of Zmutt, one of the region's most postcard-worthy towns.

Eat lunch here, then return to Zermatt on a loop trail. Along the way, you'll stop at Zum See, another typical Swiss hamlet. In each of the towns you'll pass through today, you'll see raccards—little houses dedicated to grain storage, which sit on stone foundations to elevate them from the ground. 

Continue to Zermatt, arriving in time for dinner. 

Elevation change: +1,388 feet (420 m), -1,312 feet (400 m)
Hiking time: 3.5 hours

Day 9: Depart Zermatt

Electric delivery car in Zermatt, a combustion-engine car-free zone
Electric delivery car in Zermatt, a combustion-engine car-free zone

Enjoy one last alpine breakfast before you catch your transfer to the airport (or onward to your next adventure).

Map

Map of Chamonix to Zermatt Walker's Haute Route - 9 Days
Map of Chamonix to Zermatt Walker's Haute Route - 9 Days