Hiking the Tour de Monte Rosa

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Learn about the historic roots of the Tour de Monte Rosa hiking route, a gorgeous and wild loop from Zermatt through Italy around Switzerland’s tallest mountain.

trail sign along the Tour de Monte Rosa hiking route in the Alps

Tour de Monte Rosa trail flashing

Multi-Country hut-to-hut hiking on the Tour de Monte Rosa

Walking the Tour de Monte Rosa (TMR) route through Italy and Switzerland, an unfolding gallery of panoramic mountains, quaint villages, and idyllic streams greets your eager eyes. Perfectly set stone trails seem to exist just for the enjoyment of hikers. It might be hard to imagine walking along this sweeping path with an enormous load of salt and spices on your back. But, in fact, that is exactly the use these “roads” were originally built to serve. 

alps hiking trail through the stone buildings of Rifugio Pastore

Rifugio Pastore

breakfast at an alpine hut with mountain view

View to the Monte Rosa Massif from the breakfast table at Rifugio Pastore

alps hiking trail on the Tour de Monte Rosa

Stonework of the Roman Road – much more than a trail

alps hiking trail sign and old Roman Road

En route to Col d’Olen

mountains and trail in the Italian alps

Roman Road Col d’Olen

A Brief History of the Hiking Route

The Monte Moro Pass was once an important trade and seasonal migration route for the Walsers, some of the region’s most influential inhabitants. It is also the first pass that crosses from Switzerland over into Italy. Now, the Madonna delle Nevi (Madonna of the Snow) watches over the pass. She is the ultimate destination for many Catholics during the feast days in early August. This small area is also a popular area for skiing. In both the winter and summer, the higher elevation and local lift access easily serves the hill for those not heading up for a pilgrimage. Its proximity to the Italian Lakes District also makes it a popular destination for Italians looking to exchange big city hustle for the ease of smaller mountain villages.

Madonna delle Nevi - Madonna of the Snow statue - Italian alps

Madonna delle Nevi – Madonna of the Snow

flock of sheep on alpine hiking trail

Flock of sheep below Rifugio Pastore hiking towards Alagna

street view Cervinia, Italy on Tour de Monte Rosa alps hiking route

A quiet stroll through the streets of Cervinia

The Theodul Pass linking Italy’s Aosta Valley and Switzerland’s Valais Canton historically served as a bridge for resources, religion, and politics. Sometimes it even meant survival when the strain on resources grew with populations in both areas. The pass remains a formidable obstacle for those traveling across the border between Zermatt and Cervinia. Travel will soon be much easier. A new cableway connecting the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise station and the Testa Grigia station is in the works.  Skiing has replaced the trading of goods. But the pass still remains an important link between the people and economies of the region.

cows grazing on alps hiking trail with mountains in the background

Col Nord des Cimes Blanches from Rifugio Frachey

terrace seating at Rifugio Frachey view of mountains and St Jacques in valley below

View from the terrace of Rifugio Frachey looking toward St-Jacques

Hiking the Tour de Monte Rosa Today

The convenience of modern travel makes access to the Alps fairly straightforward. The trails surrounding the Monte Rosa massif still serve as the most direct path of travel between the remote valleys you’ll visit here. Trading may be done a little differently now, but these paths are still well-used. For hundreds of years, they have held up extremely well and are still traveled much like they were back then: on foot.

Are you looking to explore this route? Check out our Guided Tour de Monte Rosa.


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