The most famous and the most photographed mountain in Switzerland is, of course, Matterhorn. Although it is not the tallest peak in Alps, its unique shape and detachment from other tall mountains nearby make up a really pretty landscape =)
Matterhorn-viewing tours normally start in Zermatt, a small town at the foot of the mountain. In any season it is full of action: in winter all the slopes around Zermatt fill up with skiers, and in summer the town is a base for many hikes and panorama walks.
Today I want to tell about one of the smaller hikes, rather easy and well reachable from Zermatt. The trail goes by multiple alpine lakes and can be traversed in both directions. Despite the short length, this hike gives a great opportunity to experience a lot of diverse alpine landscapes =)
What: “5-Seenweg” trail next to Zermatt, between Blauherd and Sunnegga mountain stations.
Why: alpine meadows, views of mountains reflected in lakes (including Matterhorn), swimming in some of the lakes.
When: June to September.
How long: 2.5 hours down the mountain (or 3 hours up) + 1 hour for cable cars up and down + picnic and swimming.
How to get here: cable cars from Zermatt.
Difficulty: down the slope – easy, up the slope – medium.
Ascent/descent: 286m and 575m.
Highest altitude point: 2578m.
How much: 39 CHF.
The official route starts at the Blauherd station and goes mostly down the hill to the Sunnegga station. To get to either of them you would need to take a funicular, otherwise include steep 650m ascent to your hike.
What do the Swiss do when they do not have space to construct something? They build tunnels. The Sunnegga funicular is entirely built into the mountain so you have to look out for the signs to find it.
Sunnegga to Blauherd is covered with a regular gondola lift. In the winter season it runs up to the summit of Rothorn, but in summer one would have to climb their way to the top.
The first lake is also the biggest and the highest of the five. The path to it is very flat and comfortable. It only takes 15 minutes to get to the lake.
The trail is surrounded by alpine meadows covered with thousands of different flowers.
Great opportunity to try out my new macro lense!
Even a regular melted snow puddle looks enchanting in these mountains.
When there is no wind, Matterhorn is beautifully reflected in the water, but it is not that easy to catch such a moment. There is no trees or hills around Stellisee so almost at all times there is at least some breeze to disturb the surface.
Because of its proximity to the station and the easy trail, Stellisee is crowded with large tourist groups. We were a bit concerned that the rest of the trail would also be like that, but thankfully most of the tourists only visit this lake and do not continue to the rest of the trail.
The descent from Stellisee to Gtindjisee mostly coincides with a bicycle track.
The walk is accompanied with noise from creeks and waterfalls. Also it shows why Rothorn is called like that (in German, Rothorn means “red peak”).
The closer it is to the lake, the more possibilities there are to wander off the bike route: the side trails are emptier and more interesting.
Thanks to the trees, this lake is calmer than Stellisee so the chance to spot Matterhorn reflection is much higher than at the first lake.
The “green lake”, unlike the others, is found not directly on the slope, but rather on a small plateau. Because of the relative flatness of this place, it collects a lot of water from the mountains, and alpine meadows are replaced here with swamp-like terrains.
The lake is a great place for a picnic. If you are brave, you can also try swimming. I have tested the water and it turned out too cold for me: I could probably dive into it for a challenge, but the temperature was too low for a pleasant experience.
Five minute walk from the lake would get you to a restaurant.
After the restaurant starts the steepest part of the trail. It is probably nice to have some food here when coming in the opposite direction, after a steep 20 minute ascent.
A short descent – and the trail is flat once again. At this altitude there is already a dense forest, not just single trees.
10 more minutes would take you to the next lake, Moosjisee. In spring it is filled with water from melting glaciers and takes this milky-blue color, commonly called “glacier milk” in Switzerland.
The lake’s shores are built up with some constructs – dams or something similar. This looks not as impressive as pure and clear Grindjisee or Grünsee so we did not stay long here.
Moosjisee is followed by a small ascent and a panorama path.
It will bring you to the Sunnegga station where you will also find the last of the five lakes, the smallest of them.
Swimming is also possible here, and it would be accompanied by views of Matterhorn and Gornergrat.
I guess that is it. Time to go home?
The official variant of this path – Blauherd to Sunnegga – is rather simple and scenic, it does a wonderful job showcasing alpine nature and the main mountain of Switzerland. Swimming in mountain lakes and many places to have picnic are also nice features. I would recommend starting at 10 am latest so that you are back to Sunnegga by 2 pm. After this time the Sun becomes quite cruel, and the light is not that great for pictures anymore.
If you are up for a bigger challenge, try taking this trail the other direction. The coolest lakes are closer to Blauherd so the excitement would be increasing with every step walked. And the tough ascent part would be immediately rewarded with a possibility to rest at the lake shore and dip your toes into Grünsee =)