Hiking In The Alps
When the snow melts and the sun comes out, there is truly no better time to hike in the Alps. From every corner of this stunning mountain range, from France to Italy, Austria to Switzerland, some of the highest peaks in Europe, there is a chance to experience a trail to suit every hiker. Forget beach breaks, sweltering heat, sand where you don’t want it or stuffy cities, head to higher terrain with the fresh air and enjoy a little hiking in the alps. Not to mention after a long day hiking you can indulge in some delicious alpine food and look out at the epic mountain sunsets.
Walks To Add To Your Bucket List
Hikes in the Alps have so much to offer, there is plenty to look forward to. The weather is so pleasant, warm, sunny but breezy, flora and fauna are truly breathtaking, and the wildlife is awe-inspiring. Here at Ridestore, we absolutely love sharing the best travel info, especially when it comes to the best hiking locations in the Alps. So let’s take a deep dive and discover.
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Quickfire Packing List
It’s a tough concept to consider, when it comes to packing for a hike. The main essentials are making sure you are as prepared as possible. After all, you are still out in nature and the potential to battle the elements.
Here is an “must haves” checklist which will ensure you stay safe, warm, dry and happy on your adventure:
- Hiking Backpack
- Trekking Poles
- Spare Clothing
- Food & Water Supply
- Navigation Tools
- Emergency & First Aid
- Tools & Repair Items
In need of a full checklist to ensure you are prepared for every eventuality, head to our article, “Hiking Packing List: The Ultimate Guide.”
Weather During Hiking Season
The gorgeous mountains of the Alps offer the perfect location for an adventure holiday with family and friends. The weather can have the power to make or break your trip. Few places on earth can switch as quickly as the Alps. They are unpredictable, but we love them for it.
From the cold, snowy and blustery winter months to the scorchingly hot summers, it’s always good to be ready for the changes when going for a hike in the Alps.
Your average trip in the Summer months is most likely to be warm, balmy and maybe just a bit windy. Perhaps even some light rain or worst case, a little thundery rain. That’s why it’s a good idea to bring some very light waterproofs if you are out hiking.
Although by far the best thing to bring is sun prep! Remember how much more powerful the sun is at that altitude (strong UVA & UVB, but you can certainly place a fairly confident bet on warm temps and beautiful long sunny days. Watch out for sunrise and sunset, they tend to be pretty cool!
Animals in the Alps
Okay, we know we are here for the hikes, but damn, along the way, there is so much to see. One thing you must watch out for is the absolutely blooming adorable wildlife of the Alps, all of whom (we used whom right?) are out eating, exploring and basically doing what you are doing but being 5x as cute.
Here are a few particularly adorable animals to look out for when hiking in the alps.
Chamois: The famous chamois is a goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe, a distant cousin of the goat but even cuter with their buggy eyes. They are speedy and stealthy and can jump up to 2m.
Lynx: The Lynx is an elusive breed, a wildcat that inhabits high altitude forests with dense cover of shrubs. The Lynx can also swim to catch fish as prey!
Marmots: They are basically squirrels but so much cuter. They mainly emerge from their burrows to feed in the mornings and evenings, as they are not well suited to heat, so you are more likely to see them on your sunset hike or in the Autumn.
Ibex: The Ibex is a pretty incredible animal. A goat-like animal with the most stately and impressive horns, they spend most of their time balancing on cliff edges and photobombing your mountain shots!
Mouflon: Mouflon is the cool french cousin of the sheep with rather insane looking horns. You might even see them having a little hike themselves, don’t worry, they are less interested in you and more in eating their weight in food!
Alpine Hikes in France
Mont Blanc Encompassed
Trail Length: ascend 9000 vertical metres in 10 days
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
Best For: Those who are experienced hikers and physically fit
The Mont Blanc Encompassed trail is around 10 days of strenuous hiking, scrambling and exploring of the incredible mountain range between France, Italy and Switzerland. Taking a trip to hike across Mont Blanc will be no walk in the park, but in fact an ascent of over the height of Mount Everest! But don’t think its all work and no play, because across this stunning range of the Alps you will get to enjoy the charm and rustic feel of the Alpine villages and the cheesy, red wine goodness that they are famous for.
Booking onto a tour which includes accommodation, lunches for on the mountain and evening meals in the local restaurants.
Mont Blanc Rambler, Chamonix
Trail Length: 170km
Best For: Restaurants and cuisine
The Mont Blanc Rambler or the Tour du Mont Blanc, is a trail for those who want to soak in the views of the incredible Mont Blanc and charm of the Alps. Over a week you can spend 3-5 hours a day at your own pace, rambling your own way from Chamonix to Courmayeur or vice versa. The beauty of this trail (other than the view) is that you have the time to experience the Alpine villages and relax on an evening with a wine to wind down. You can either take a guided tour with other hikers or you will be sure to meet others on the way, if you decide to go self-guided. This relaxed approach to hiking in the Mont Blanc means this is a great holiday rather than an intense expedition.
If you like your comforts make sure to book room upgrades for the mountain huts.
Grand Balcon Nord, Chamonix
Trail Length: 6 km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Difficult
Best For: Food at the end and classic french mountain feel.
Chamonix is not only the home to world-class skiing, but around the town and up into the Mont Blanc mountain range, there is more delicious hiking terrain than one could possibly take! The Grand Balcon Nord route is a mid to high mountain walk along the northern slopes of the valley. Although the starting and ending points of the trail can be reached using different access points; these routes can all be hiked both ways. However, we suggest you begin by taking the lift to the Refuge du Plan de l’Aiguille and taking the path on the right towards la Tapia.
This takes you across the river and the base of the moraines of the Blaitiere and Nantillons glaciers. Finishing up at an excellent food spot and a gentle 2.5-hour trip.
Reward yourself with an epic mountain lunch upon arrival at, Refuge du Montenvers.
Alpine Hikes in Switzerland
The North face Trail of Bernese Oberland
Trail Length: 16km
Best For: Views of lakes and snow-capped peaks
This trail will get you to experience the very best of Switzerland and the beautiful Alps. This is a relatively low key walking trail that is done on a loop from Mürren. Along the way, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mönch, Eiger, and Jungfrau as well as views over the impressive Lauterbrunnen Valley. The area is typically wetter than other areas of the Alps, but this just means that the views will be even more incredible, with lush fields and unique flowers (but just be sure to take waterproof gear). On top of the beauty of the area, you will also be spoilt by the traditional Swiss style of hospitality and cosy, wholesome alpine cuisine. This trail is also epic on a mountain bike and can be done in a 1/3 of the time.
Make sure to take the Alpine train ride in Grindelwald (will be a chance to rest your legs).
Tour de Monte Rosa, Italy- Switzerland
Trail Length: 140km
Best For: Those who want to visit their favourite ski resorts in the summer.
The Tour de Monte Rosa is a breathtaking long-distance hike from exploring Switzerland and Italy. Starting on the Swiss side of the Matterhorn in Zermatt, going over the Theodul Glacier into Italy, exploring Cervina, Alagna and other Italian resorts, then ending back in Switzerland for a spot of hiking in fabulous Saas-Fee and Grachen. Along the way, you will reach dizzying heights of 4000m summits, see views that you will never forget. The hike itself is difficult and requires stamina and hiking experience but can be done self-guided following the routes. But make sure to walk relatively quickly, because what awaits you are culinary delights and vibrant atmosphere in resorts that are just as good in the summer as they are in the winter.
Take a guided tour of of the glaciers, where you can traverse them and even do some climbing.
The Alpine Pass Route
Trail Length: 325km
Best For: Those who take hiking seriously, big terrain and even bigger views!
This is an OG hiking route in the Alpes, covering a lot of pretty stunning mountains and finishing up at the breathtaking lake Geneva. The most common route is the Via Alpina green trail which follows the Swiss National Route no. 1 (previously known as the Swiss Alpine Pass Route) from Sargans to Lenk, which then continues over a further four passes to Montreux. There are plenty of variations of this route but if you start in Sargans in eastern Switzerland and head West towards Lake Geneva, its super well signposted. Simply follow signs with the green “Via Alpina” square.
Take route one via Bernese Oberland and stop there for a day or hiking the passes in the area. It’s where the best views are found.
Matterhorn Glacier Hike, Zermatt
Trail Length: 6.5 km
Difficulty: Beginner (Although it is a high altitude walk)
Best For: Those who want to see the Matterhorn up close and personal.
Although this route is absolutely beginner friendly, its good to know that given how high altitude it is, some might experience a little breathlessness or lightheadedness. The glacier route begins at a whopping 2,900 meters and descends to 2,500 meters. That wasn’t such a positive note to start on but the Matterhorn, Zermatt Glacier route is gorgeous. Crystal clear glacier lakes and just a gentle 2 hour decent, something to consider in the morning and finish up in a mountain restaurant for lunch.
Why not do a couple of ski runs on the Zermatt, Cervinia glacier in the afternoon.
Mannlichen to Wengen Hiking, Lauterbrunnen Region
Trail Length: 16 km
Best For: Swiss charm and views if the Eiger.
This hike offers jaw-dropping views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, to name a few, also passing through the ethereal and mystical town of Grindelwald towards Wengen. As you make your way from the top of the gondola at Mannlichen, the route follows a well-known route descending to Klein Scheidegg with awe-inspiring views of the high peaks, including the Wetterhorn, Streckhorn and the Eiger, surrounded by lush green forest and mountainous fields. Dreamy!
When it’s a little warmer, you may see icefalls crashing down the rugged cliffs.
Alpine Hikes in Italy
Gran Paradiso Adventure, Aosta Valley
Trail Length: 69km
Best For: An introduction into trekking and mountaineering
The Gran Paradiso adventure trails are based in the Gran Paradiso National Park in Italy between the Aosta Valley and Piedmont. You can spend each day embarking on a different adventure, which can be a leisurely trail or a steep hike basing yourself in the mountain village of Pont. This is a great way to start your hiking journey, by having the flexibility to choose the trails you want and can take it easy if you want to relax. There are amazing strolls to the Lillaz Waterfalls or explore a different mountain village, but either way, make sure to take a break and indulge in local polenta dishes and Italian beer.
Get up early on day 3 or 4 and climb the summit of Gran Paradiso
Alpine Hikes in Austria
Peter Habeler Route, Zillertal
Trail Length: 60 km
Difficulty: Intermediate/ Difficult (Mixed terrain)
Best For: Food at the end and classic french mountain feel.
Inspired by the famous mountaineer, Peter Habeler, paying homage to his love of the most beautiful peaks in his homeland of Zillertal.
“This 60 kilometre long, hut to hut round walk leads via six mountain huts with individual distances ranging from 3.5 to 13 kilometres with or without summit ascents. The individual routes are divided into walking times of between 2.5 and 8 hours, with varying levels of difficulty over diverse terrain including easy sections, alpine meadows and gravel trails as well as over rock, moraines and scree.”- Mayrhofen.at
Book your stays in the mountain huts online on the local tourism website.
Lech River Trail (Lechweg)
Trail Length: 125 km
Best For: Hardcore rambelers who love a good LQT certification.
“From the source to the falls. The Lech River Trail takes hikers through one of the last wild river landscapes in Europe: from its source close to Formarinsee lake, through the Lechtal Valley and the Reutte Nature Park Region all the way to the region of Allgäu in Germany.” tyrol.com
The entire trial, which begins in, Formarinsee lake (Lech am Arlberg) and finishes in Füssen (railway station) is 125km long. Although you simply can’t say 125km is a casual distance, the long distance is still a super pleasant and relaxed as its more or less downhill. This alpine adventure route is split into 15 sections, the final one of which leads to the picturesque little town of Füssen.
Pass by the incredible colonies of alpine ibex, meander through the unique botanical landscapes of the Lechtal Valley and cross over an epic 200-metre suspension bridge at Holzgau.
So there we are folks, some pretty amazing hikes there. Stunning views, varied terrain, friendly locals and a chance to see the Alps in a totally different setting. Away from the beach and the hustle and bustle of the city, the mountains are calling.
Hey Riders, note from your gal Angelica here. All information was correct at the time of writing through research and extensive knowledge and experience. However, things change during different periods in the season and some websites offer out of date information and links may change.
Maybe you have some better information to offer or any addendum or changes to make, in which case, feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can consider adding them in! Let me know. . .