||France and Switzerland
||Strenuous, Strenuous Plus
||Hotel, Mountain Hut
||1 - 12+
Jul 01, 2023 - Sep 15, 2023
|Single Supp Cost
Hiking Trip Summary
The Haute Route was established almost a hundred years ago as a high mountaineering route that linked together two of Europe’s premier mountaineering centers, Chamonix and Zermatt. It was then developed into a ski route and more recently a high-level mountain hike.
Few long-distance hikes offer the variety and grandeur of landscape as this route. Beginning in Chamonix at the foot of Mont Blanc, Western Europe’s highest peak, the Haute Route winds its way through the Swiss canton of Valais. Incorporating what is thought to be the greatest collection of four-thousand-meter peaks in all the Alps, it culminates at the foot of the Matterhorn in Zermatt. While Mont Blanc will remain in view for much of the hike, we will also become familiar with other equally-impressive peaks such as the Grand Combin, Mont Blanc de Cheilon, Pigne d’Arolla, Dent Blanche, and the Weisshorn. This hike is nothing short of fantastic!
As with all of Europe’s long-distance footpaths, this route offers the experience of traveling by foot. Carrying everything you need for the duration of the trip (it is possible to send extra bags to Zermatt), you hike beneath imposing peaks and glaciers of the Swiss Alps, wander through alpine meadows and larch forests, across high, barren passes and descend into lush green valleys. You'll picnic beside cool mountain lakes, stay in remote mountain huts, visit bustling Swiss villages, and relax in the tranquility of isolated old-world hamlets.
This is a strenuous and strenuous plus route crossing eleven passes, many over 9,000′. While there will be some ambitious days, there will also be leisurely days. We have tried to incorporate as little alternative transportation as possible and have used it only when necessary to allow for a smoother day. This is a classic hike through the heart of the Swiss Alps.
Day 1: Independent travel to the hotel in Chamonix, France. Chamonix is home to a dazzling array of many of the highest peaks in the Alps, including Mont Blanc (15,860′). Overnight in Chamonix, dinner on your own.
Day 2: Chamonix to Trient: A short bus transfer north from Chamonix to Le Tour will bring you to the starting point of your hike. Ascending to the Col de la Balme (7,230′) you have impressive views of the Chamonix valley and the Mont Blanc massif before descending into the quiet settlement of Trient. Dinner and breakfast included.
- Some of our hikers depart on foot from Chamonix and spend the first night in the village of Argentiere and hike to Trient the next day.
Day 3: Trient to Champex: There are two hiking options for today, one via the high alpine pastures of Bovine with expansive views of the Rhone Valley, and the other more difficult route up and over the ruggedly beautiful Fenetre d’Arpette. You can decide on your hike in the morning. The hike concludes in the picturesque lakeside village of Champex. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 4: Champex to Cabane Louvie: Morning transfer from Champex Lac to Verbier, where you take the gondola up to the terminus at Ruinettes. From here you begin the hike to the remote Cabane Louvie. This narrow trail leads close by several clusters of chamois and bouquetin. In the distance rises the stunning multi-peaked Grand Combin (14,149′), draped with its numerous glaciers and the Mont Blanc Massif. Dinner and breakfast included.
If the weather is poor, you can take a Swiss Post bus to Fionnay, a small hamlet tucked near the end of the Val de Bagnes, where there is the start of a shorter hike to Cabane Louvie. This steep but short climb offers fantastic views of the Grand Combin (14,149′).
Day 5: Louvie to Cabane Prafleuri: Today’s hike is a remarkable and very remote route, as you hike from lush alpine meadows and across high barren plateaus. Leaving Cabane Louvie, the route rises to a high belvedere with expansive views of the Val de Bagnes and the Grand Combin before reaching the Col Louvie (9,639′). In this cirque you may be lucky enough to see grazing herds of chamois and bouquetin.
From this Col, you traverse a landscape of barren rock and massive mountains, including the Rosablanche (11,000’), tumbling moraines, and drying glaciers before ascending to your final Col, Col de Prafleuri (9,785′). Your final descent leads to Cabane de Prafleuri (8,660′), your refuge for the night. This is a fantastic and remote hike; however, it is a strenuous plus day on a very demanding and rocky trail. The trail is frequently open and exposed on one side. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 6: Prafleuri to Arolla: Today is a wonderful hike with some easy sections interspersed with very steep, very rugged and challenging trails. From Cabane Prafleuri you hike along Lac des Dix, across the decaying Glacier of Cheilon and over the Pas Chevres by way of the “ladders” route or over the steep pass of Col de Reidmatten and to Arolla.
Once over the pass, the route soon becomes less demanding as it parallels a grassy moraine carved out by the long Tsijiore glacier. The hike concludes in the small village of Arolla. Overnight in a hotel with private bathrooms. This is a classic older-style hotel, with simple rooms. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 7: Arolla to Evolene or La Sage: This is a short day of hiking down the valley. While not a long day, it is a pretty hike through the woods to Les Hauderes and either to Evolene or up the other side of the valley to La Sage. Overnight in a hotel with private bathrooms. Dinner and breakfast included in La Sage, dinner not included in Evolene.
- Some hike from Prafleuri to Cabane des Dix, and the next day from Dix to the village of Arolla. There are many options.
Day 8: Evolene or La Sage to Cabane Moiry: Starting from La Sage, you'll hike over the remote Col de Tsate. This spectacular route is well worth the effort. The trail climbs steeply, passing by farms and rugged, stark landscape all the way to the pass. The downhill side leads to the south end of Lac de Moiry. At this point you now must climb on the rugged, rocky trail to the Cabane Moiry. Cabane Moiry is spectacularly situated overlooking the tumbling Moiry Glacier. The cabane is nothing short of astonishing, with is enormous glass windows allowing views of the tumbling glacier below and the rising peaks. If you are staying in Evolene, you need to take a taxi or bus to the village of La Sage, about 15 minutes away. Bunk rooms and shared facilities, dinner and breakfast included.
- Some elect to hike from Evolene to Grimentz. From Grimentz transfer to the small village of St. Luc and hike to Gruben.
Day 9: Cabane Moiry to Zinal: Descending from Cabane Moiry, you'll join the trail on the east side of Lac Moiry. This trail, high above Lac Moiry leads to the Col Sorebois. This a wonderful morning hike as the sun rises, shining on the mountain peaks to the west. A 45-minute hike from the col leads to the cable car station, from where you can take the cable to the pretty village of Zinal. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 10: Zinal to Gruben: From Zinal you hike to Gruben via the Meiden Pass or the more challenging Col Forcletta. There are several options for today’s route. You do not need to decide on your route until the morning. The most challenging and longest route departs right from Zinal and leads over the Col Forcletta. The initial climb is steep, long and not for the faint-hearted; however, this is a magnificent hike worthy of your extra efforts. Eventually, you do reach the Col Forcletta and begin the long descent to Gruben.
Day 11: Gruben to St. Niklaus and train to Zermatt: Departing Gruben you climb to the last pass of the Haute Route, the Augstbordpass. It is a varied route through woodlands, pastures and stony wilderness and offers stunning views of the high mountain peaks, including Balfrin, Nadelhorn, Lenzspitzen, Dom and Taeschhorn to the east and the Bruggenhorn, Bishorn and Weisshorn to the south. To the north and well across the Rhone Valley the Bietschhorn and the Breithorn stand tall and massive, each rising well over 12,000′. The day will end in the village of St. Niklaus, from where you take a quick train ride to Zermatt. You arrive on Zermatt about 5:00 pm. Many trekkers spend two nights in Zermatt.
- Some extend the trip and add the hike from Grachen to Europa Hut and Europa Hut to Zermatt. These two days are on the Europa Weg. Note: These two days are very challenging with significant exposure across very rugged terrain. It is not suitable or recommended for all hikers. Please ask us for more information.
Day 12: Depart Zermatt: After breakfast, independent departure from Zermatt. Please allow for travel time when making plans. Taking the train is the best way to travel to the airport or another destination.
If you would like to spend extra nights in Chamonix or Zermatt, please let us know when you book your trip and we will make reservations at the same hotel.
The above itinerary represents one of many possibilities. There are many variations available depending on your time frame. Please contact us if you would like a more detailed itinerary including elevation gain, loss, distance, and additional information.
- General consulting regarding hiking dates and abilities
- Travel information and suggestions
- Detailed Swiss Topo maps covering the route
- Detailed trail notes – we keep our notes updated and as accurate as possible
- Additional information covering various aspects of your trip (i.e., lunches, laundry, water, refuge routines, alternate transportation, etc.)
- All overnight accommodations, which include breakfasts and most dinners (hotels with private baths as described in itinerary, other overnight accommodations may vary)
- All private taxi transfers, if any, as detailed in the final itinerary
The above may change, depending your final confirmed itinerary.
Airfare, lunches, any transfers or excursions on trains, lifts, buses, taxis, luggage transfer, Swiss Travel Passes, extra charges due to changes in itinerary, items not on set dinner menu, some dinners as described in the final confirmed itinerary, beverages (except what is served at breakfast), insurance, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, excess baggage charge, medical expenses, evacuation costs, insurance, passport fees, etc.). This may change depending on your final confirmed itinerary.
SWISS TRAVEL PASSES
Switzerland has a wonderfully extensive, organized and efficient public transportation system. There are any number of passes available through the Swiss Rail service that can help economize on your travel within Switzerland, as well as help make your travel go more smoothly. Passes can allow for reduced fares on most, but not all, trains, buses, lifts, and ferries as well as on transfers on unaccompanied luggage.
For more information on how your self-guided trip might benefit from a Swiss pass, please contact us or you may also like to visit My Switzerland and Swiss Rail.
This trip is not luggage supported. You will be carrying a pack with all you need for the duration of the trip. We provide a detailed packing list, however, plan on carrying a (roughly) 20-pound pack. (See our Sample Packing List.) With advances in synthetic clothing and other travel gear, it’s possible to keep your pack weight to 20 lbs., including lunch and water.
Any extra luggage you will not need, if you have any, can be sent to Zermatt to meet you at the end of your hike. There are several ways to transfer your extra bags to Zermatt, taxi, train from the Geneva or Zurich Airport Rail stations or mail. All options are detailed in final information. Luggage transfer costs are not included in the cost of the trip.
ACCOMMODATIONS AND FACILITIES
The accommodations on the Hiker’s Haute Route vary from comfortable 3-star hotels to rustic mountain cabanes. Your trip may or may not include the following depending on your final confirmed itinerary. The atmosphere is friendly and jovial as hikers from many countries gather to spend the night. We believe that staying in the cabanes and small hotels offers a wonderful opportunity to meet hikers from other parts of the world, experience something new and wonderful, and take part in the simple tradition of the European style of hiking hut-to-hut.
Hotels: Hotels with private baths included Chamonix, Champex, Evolene, Grimentz, Zinal, Grachen and Zermatt. These hotels are comfortable and welcoming.
Hikers’ Hotels or hostels: The hiker’s hotels/hostels offer simple and basic, though comfortable accommodations. They have private double, triple or quad rooms with shared facilities.
Cabanes or Refuges: They are high mountain huts and have shared bunkrooms, called dortoirs, complete with blankets and pillows. The shared facilities include washing and bathroom areas, most have showers.
Meals: Breakfasts are served each morning at the hotels, hiker’s hotels and cabanes. Lunches are picnic style on the trail. Dinners are served at most hotels, hiker’s hotels and cabanes.
The nearest airport to the starting point is Geneva. The nearest airport to the ending point is Zurich. It's about a 4-hour train trip from Zermatt to either the Geneva or Zurich Airport. The first train departs Zermatt at about 5:30 am. Please allow for travel time when making plans.
This route normally starts in Chamonix; however, if you are short on time there are many other logical places to start this hike. Call us with your travel timeframe and we can come up with some ideas.
Normally this route ends in Zermatt; however, you can end the hike in other Swiss villages.
WHO WOULD LIKE THIS TRIP?
Our Haute Route is a great trip for strong, able hikers looking for a fantastic long-distant route. It is a challenging and varied route including many passes over 9,000′. The accommodations include hotels as well as high mountain cabanes.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP DIFFERENT
We are a small company. As founders, we take part in every aspect of the business, from designing our trips, to speaking directly with prospective hikers, to guiding. We are intimately familiar with our trip areas, the hotel and hut owners and service providers with whom we work. At the end of a day of hiking on one of our self-guided itineraries, whether you are ending your day at a mountain hut or village hotel, you will be greeted with the same anticipation and welcome as if we were arriving along with you. We are dedicated to providing personal attention and crafting a quality experience, at good value, that is just right for you.
For more information, a more-detailed itinerary that includes elevation gains, loss, and distance, or to register, please contact us. We're happy to share a list of past participants willing to share insights into this self-guided Hiking the Haute Route experience.
Reserving This Trip
A non-refundable deposit of $500 along with your completed registration forms will reserve a space on your requested trip. We accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express card as well as personal checks. To make a deposit, you may either follow one of the “Reserve a Trip” links below, give us a call at 1-888-845-5781, or include your payment information in the area provided when completing your registration forms.
Before registering for this, please read our Terms and Conditions in their entirety and then refer to our Self-Guided Trips page for specific information regarding the process.
The balance is due 75 days prior to departure for most of our trips. When applying less than 75 days prior to departure, full payment is due. For final payments, we accept MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, as well as personal checks.
As confirmation of receipt of your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive packet of information pertaining to your trip, an invoice for final payment and additional information including release agreement form, medical information form, travel information, and packing list. Upon receipt of final payment, you will receive trip
rendezvous information and a list of accommodations. Returning trip participants will receive a 5% discount on most trips.
Receipt of all forms will finalize your registration.