We talked in our previous posts why glacier hiking is a unique experience. Glaciers are formed thousands of years ago and, unfortunately, they are here only for a while. Some of them could become unhikeable or could melt completely in a few years due to the global warming.
Considering the constant retreat of glaciers that could make a certain glacier climbs unavailable, hiking these places of mesmerizing beauty and breathtaking views is simply a must.
Glaciers in the Swiss Alps cover a total area of approximately 1,300 square kilometers. According to scientific measurements, more than 1800 glacier units are located in the Swiss Alps with the largest ice masses occurring in the Bernese and Pennine Alps.
In Switzerland, glaciers play an important role and they are of great economic interest. They are fresh water reservoirs and are used for hydropower production. They are also very crucial factors in scientific research because the variations in glacier length and mass are the best indicators of climate fluctuations.
But, glaciers are also an important tourist attraction in Switzerland. Avid hikers and adventurers don’t miss a chance to take a glacier walk, while many tourists and hiking beginners love being rewarded with stunning views of famous glaciers in the Swiss Alps.
On many great hikes in the Swiss Alps, glaciers are often visible. For example, if you choose a Forcletta and Meidpass hike you can see the Turtmann glacier and the Brunnegg glacier, or if you hit the trail which goes across the Col Ferret, you will see the Glacier de Pré Bard. Glaciers at every step!
But, if you more of an action and adrenaline type and if you want to feel the cold ice of a glacier under your feet, these are the perfect glacier hikes for you!
1. Aletsch Glacier (The Bernese Alps, the canton of Valais)
The Aletsch Glacier (Aletschgletscher) or Great Aletsch Glacier (Grosser Aletschgletscher) is the largest glacier in the Alps and the longest glacier in Europe. This impressive ice massive has a length of about 23 km and it is a part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
You can discover the magnificent landscapes of Aletsch glacier by different routes: you can choose a day hike to the gorgeous mountain lake of Märjelensee from where you can admire the impressive Aletsch glacier, or you can choose a trail which goes through the famous Talligrat tunnel. The second one even offers you the opportunity to take the trail around the Talligrat if you want to see another glacier – the Fiescher Glacier.
Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try a more demanding and strenuous hike to Aletsch glacier and the 3000m peak of the Sparrhorn.
2. Gorner Glacier (the Pennine Alps, the canton of Valais)
Unfortunately, the magnificent Gorner glacier is a dramatically retreating glacier, with the tendency to retreat about 30 m every year. It is a second largest glacier in Switzerland and it’s 12.4 km long.
Taking a hike to the Gorener glacier is truly an amazing experience. The hike starts in the village of Zermatt, one of the most popular tourist spots in Switzerland, but the best mountain views start to unveil as you climb up to reach the glacier.
This hike is surely unforgettable. Not only you’ll have a chance to see this huge river of ice and its stunning features like crevasses, but you will also enjoy the majestic views of Matterhorn reflected on Riffelsee lake, and some other famous high mountain peaks such as Monte Rosa, which divides Italy from Switzerland at 4554m.
3. Glacier de Moiry (the Pennine Alps, the canton of Valais)
Glacier de Moiry, although only about 5km in length, is another great sight of the Swiss Alps. Tourists like to travel by car to the Moiry dam, from where the glacier is easily accessible, but we always suggest a more adventurous and exciting option – a walk through the magnificent Valley of Hérens.
As you’re heading to the Moiry Glacier, you will encounter beautiful mountain lakes – Lac de Bayenna, Lac de Châteaupré, Lac des Autannes, and an artificial lake de Moiry formed by a dam.
And there’s nothing that can beat the stunning panoramic views of Glacier de Moiry from the dining room of The Cabane de Moiry!
4. Corbassière Glacier (the Pennine Alps, the canton of Valais)
This fantastic valley glacier is located just below the Grand Combin (4314m), one of the highest peaks in the Pennine Alps. The glacier is almost 10 km long and about 1 km wide.
The 210 meters suspension bridge above the glacier, built a few year ago, is somewhat the most challenging part of this glacier hike for those who suffer from vertigo. The bridge oscillates a bit, but the views of the Corbassière Glacier and high peaks rising above the winding river of ice are worth the effort.
5. The Allalin Glacier and the Hohlaub glacier (the Pennine Alps, the canton of Valais)
Two glaciers in a single hike! The Allalin Glacier (6 km long) and the Hohlaub glacier (3.5 km long) are both situated below the Allalinhorn (4,027 m). On a rock formation north above the Hohlaubgletscher stands 3030 m above sea level the Britannia hut – one of the most famous huts in the Alps.
This hiking trail will take you to the beautiful Lake of Mattmark and if you’re lucky enough you could see an Alpine ibex – a wild goat with long, thick ridged horns and a beard found in the European Alps. The entire landscape of the Saas Valley is spectacular and exciting, so don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy this WeHike.