The Swiss Hiker’s Haute Route Express consists of a spectacular series of trails linking Verbier to Zermatt, marked by high, steep passes, quiet trails, and stunning mountain scenery. While the full Hiker’s Haute Route from Chamonix is a long and strenuous tour, we’ve designed this tour as a shorter option, skipping 2 of the stages shared with the TMB, and starting in the sunny Swiss resort village of Verbier instead. The Haute Route is one of the world’s classic hikes, crossing rugged terrain, with a wild beauty deserving of its name.
Your tour will meet in Verbier, Switzerland, a sunny mountain village with gorgeous views to the Grand Combin towering over the Bagnes Valley. After a night here, our hut-to-hut adventure leads up to the Louvie hut, and crosses the first of several passes as we hike towards Zermatt. This is one of our most strenuous and remote tours, with high passes every day. We’ll hike through Arolla and Zinal – small villages where we can resupply fresh clothes from our luggage, and will spend 4 nights in remote huts and inns. Once we reach Zermatt at the end of the tour, a second night in Zermatt gives us a chance to truly appreciate the beauty of the Matterhorn and this special region. If you like strenuous hiking and love high mountain scenery, the Haute Route Express offers the ultimate exploration of one of the most dramatic hiking routes in the Alps.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – which gives us the energy needed for a full day of inn-to-inn hiking. Soon we’ll be out on the trail for 7-9 hours, usually with a high pass to cross to reach the next destination. Each morning, you’ll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we’ll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches – making them something to look forward to as well!
We should finish our hike around 4-5 pm, giving you time to wash up and relax. You will have your own bedroom 6 of the 9 nights (singles available 5 nights), and luggage in Verbier, Arolla, Zinal and Zermatt. In the evening we’ll enjoy dinner together at our inn. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring local French and Swiss specialties, and will be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious.
Verbier – arrive in Geneva or Zurich and take the train to Verbier. Both airports are served by hourly trains and the journey is both easy and scenic. Verbier is a popular mountain resort village, with plenty of outdoor shops if you need any last-minute purchases before your hike.
We’ll meet in the late afternoon, go over the trip, and talk about the days to come. Stay in the friendly, centrally-located 3-star Hotel Bristol.
Louvie hut – After a nice breakfast at our hotel, we’ll walk high above the valley, through meadows filled with mountain goats, on a gorgeous panoramic hike above Verbier to the lakeside Louvie hut, a small traditional alpine club hut high in the mountains.
We’ll share a small dormitory at Louvie, with hot showers available down the hall. A convivial group dinner caps a great night, and a perfect introduction to hut living high in the Alps.
Dixence Barrage – A rugged day brings us across 2 passes and through a remote, wild region filled with glaciers and rocky peaks known as the Grand Desert. This is a rocky trail, and we’ll need to take care with our footing, but don’t forget to stop and admire the high alpine views!
After passing by Prafleuri hut late in the hike, we’ll descend another hour to the base of the Dixence Dam with a welcome hot shower and hearty meals at our modest hotel here.
Arolla – A short cable car ride from just beyond our hotels brings us to the start of our hike past the Grand Dixence reservoir and then up to Dix hut, spectacularly perched on a lonely rock outcrop and surrounded by glaciers and mountains. After lunch at the hut, we continue with a short, easy glacier traverse, crossing either the steep Col du Riedmatten Pass or the nearby ladders over the pas du Chevres, and descend to the tiny, forested village of Arolla.
Arolla is a gem of a village, with just a handful of small hotels and shops, but a wide panorama of incredible mountain views. The Kurhaus hotel in Arolla is one of our favorites… a stately, Victorian-era hotel with a beautiful grassy terrace perfect for frittering away a pleasant evening.
Moiry hut – After a short morning transfer across the valley, a long, steep climb leads to the beautiful Val d’Anniviers and more stunning mountain scenery. We’ll descend to the Moiry Reservoir and then up to the newly renovated Moiry hut, a comfortable base surrounded by a sea of ice.
Moiry is always one of our favorite huts, with thoughtful 4-person dorms, and one of the most beautiful picture windows imaginable, looking out across the tumbling Moiry Glacier.
Zinal – A slightly easier day leads us over a minor pass and gives us a chance to further explore the Val d’Anniviers, an unforgettable valley with a great blend of ancient villages, quiet trails, and breathtaking views.
Descend to the village of Zinal, a postcard-perfect village of dark timbered houses bursting with colorful geraniums. There is an optional cable car from Sorebois to Zinal that can shorten this to a relatively moderate day.
Gruben – Another day, another high pass, as our Haute Route itinerary continues over the Meidpass to the Turtmann Valley. Capped by the stunning Weisshorn Mountain, this is a quiet, gorgeous valley.
We’ll stay at the Schwarzhorn, a popular hiker’s inn with private rooms near the base of the valley.
Zermatt – Our final pass brings us up to more gorgeous views of the Weisshorn, Dom and more – some of the largest mountains in Switzerland – before dropping down to the valley where we catch a short train ride to Zermatt.
Zermatt is an unmissable alpine stop, a lively village, filled with energy and history, and dominated by the towering presence of the Matterhorn. It also retains its alpine charm, with quiet back alleys, scenic nearby hamlets, and classy shops. Check out the town, take a short walk around Zermatt, or enjoy the local Matterhorn museum or the spa at our hotel, before settling in at the very friendly Hotel Europe.
Zermatt – Taking quiet trails through fields and forest, one of our hiking options today leads us up to the wide ridge of Gornergrat, past marmots and small glacial lakes, to what has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Europe. The jumbled mass of the Gorner Glacier stretches out before us, and behind that, Dom, Monte Rosa, the Breithorn, and the Matterhorn form a spectacular backdrop. Return to the hotel for a final, celebratory dinner.
Other dayhikes are possibilities for this day, such as the ascent up to Hornli hut on a high ridge at the very edge of the Matterhorn. Or check out the Europaweg hanging bridge high above Randa. A long, but incredibly scenic walk leads from the bridge back to Zermatt, with stunning Matterhorn views.
depart – After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll say our good-byes and leave for our post-trip destinations.