Did you ever feel like there are just too many cool places on Earth and struggle to fit as many as possible into a single vacation? Good news! With this 4-hour hike you will not only visit Switzerland, but also (kind of) Norway and (almost) Iceland 🙂
This post is about one of the best hikes in Switzerland – Pizol “5-Seen Wanderung”, or Five Lake Hike. Great accessibility, a challenging ascent, and mind-blowing landscapes – everything you ever wanted from a hiking day trip!
What: the awesome “5-Seen Wanderung” in Pizol, from Pizolhütte to Gaffia
Why: do you like lakes? do you like mountains? snow in the middle of July? well then…
When: from July to October
How long: 4-5 hour hike + 3h commute from Zurich (including cable cars)
How to get here: IC 3 from Zurich to Sargans + cable car from Wangs
Price: 46 CHF (cable car package) + train ticket
This trail takes its well earned-place in any list of top-whatever Swiss hikes. I have been eyeing it for quite a while! Finally on some weekend there was no excuse to bail out and fall into laziness, and we set out on this little quest 🙂
At the start I was a little anxious: the mountains were hidden in thick layers of clouds…
So yep, check the weather forecast carefully before coming, otherwise you will be staring into milk instead of a view.
Actually, the fog added mood to the scene, and suddenly the landscape looked like it was ripped out of Norwegian fjords and teleported into Switzerland.
Melting snow made the air pleasantly cool and filled the creeks with the thunder of running water.
Before the first of the two steep ascents, a tiny rocky plateau in between two huge mountains looked so cozy when embraced by the clouds. It was impossible to resist a picnic in this very special place.
As we reached the top of the hike, the clouds started to dissolve and opened a clear view on the barren cliffs.
After those foggy hours, the excitement was so high that it took a moment to realize that in front of us there was this fantastic lake of turquoise blue color dressed in melting ice.
We waited for about an hour in hope to get a view without clouds, but the luck was not with us. Behind the mountain pass, another unbelievable scene opened before our eyes.
I have never been to Iceland (not yet!), but that is exactly what I imagine a lake inside of a volcano crater might look like…
The water was surprisingly warm (it was still cold, just not ice cold). A few folks even took a dip!
Most of the people, however, do not dare to enter these waters and just enjoy them from the rocks.
Take a good break here, for after this lake it is time for the second ascent, more challenging than the first one.
The top of this pass is surrounded by breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and neighboring mountain ridges.
This is the highest point of the hike. Breathe the view in and start the descent. At the bottom of it the next lake awaits next to the midpoint of the trail.
When the sky cleared up, Switzerland started to look like Switzerland again and stopped cosplaying other countries 😀
The last lake looked rather like a big puddle, but it was also the most peaceful of all. Thanks to it being so unimpressive, a rare hiker makes a stop here, so the quiet of the mountains is only disturbed by chirping birds.
It is perfect for the last snack break, as from here everything is just straight down to Gaffia where a cable car takes a weary tourist back down.
Pizol is nicely reachable by public transport. Take an IC 3 from Zurich until Sargans. From there you have options to either walk until the Wangs station or take a shuttle bus (429/430). At Wangs take the cable car to Furt, then two chairlifts to Gaffia and then to Pizolhütte. It is possible to buy the “5-Seen Wanderung” combo ticket so that you do not need to worry about the exact connections 🙂
There is a parking lot at Wangs as well if you prefer to get around by car. Even though the hike is technically point to point, both “points” are actually served by the same gondola so you will have no problem getting back to your vehicle.
Note: you might have noticed I only described four lakes. That was because we actually missed the first one which is located a few minutes away from Pizolhütte against the trail…
The trail is really well marked, and all the signpost have directions for “5-Seen Wanderung”. Anyhow, here is the map just in case (mind the missing lake!):
As it always goes with popular Swiss hikes, it is highly recommended to start as early as possible (otherwise be prepared to share the view with dozens of other people). Check the lift status and schedule on Pizol official website.
Pro tip: I spotted a couple hotels at Furt. The signage said it takes 1 hour to hike from Furt to Gaffia. It should be very doable to take this path and then hike the 5 lake trail in the opposite direction. So… if you stay the night before the hike in one of the Furt hotels, you can start the hike way before the lifts start running and therefore have a chance to enjoy the lakes before the crowds get to them.
- Zermatt, the famous car-free Alpine resort, has its own 5 lake hike; the views there are less otherworldly, but a reflection of mighty Matterhorn in some of the lakes cannot be matched by anything!
- The rocky landscapes and green treeless grass fields reminded me so much of Norway, of its national parks, snow in the middle of summer, mountains that surround glacier lakes…
Conclusion and more pics
This hike is one of the best day trips to take from Zurich. It might be challenging, but the effort is well rewarded. Even the clouds did not manage to ruin this experience, although I am definitely coming back at a sunnier weather!