For a few years now, we have been taking advantage of my birthday in February to go and discover a region in Switzerland. After the Bernese Oberland and its Stockhorn, this time we bet on a weekend of snowshoe hikes in the Val d’Anniviers.
The Val d’Anniviers is a valley located in the Valais, which joins the towns of Sierre to Zinal. I had already told you about my love for this beautiful Swiss canton, but I had never had the opportunity to go there in winter.
I was therefore looking forward to discovering the charm of its small villages nestled in the hollow of this valley and the panoramas of the five 4000 visible from the snow-capped heights!
Snowshoe hikes in the Val d’Anniviers
With its 3 main stations in the valley, in Saint Luc, Grimentz and Zinal, there is no lack of hiking and snowshoeing trails in the Val d’Anniviers.
It is however interesting to take into account the slope exposure depending on the time of day you want to take a walk. Concretely, if you favor the eastern slope, it will be in the shade in the morning and therefore it will be colder there but the snow will be harder and you will be able to enjoy a nice view of the sunny slope in front. While if you favor the western slope, on the other hand you will enjoy the rays of the sun but the panorama in front will be more or less in backlight. There isn’t really a better option than the other, it’s up to your taste and what you’re looking for.
In order not to make people jealous and to take advantage of all the panoramas of the valley, we decided to do two snowshoe hikes, one on each side of the Val d’Anniviers!
Weisshorn loop by the path of the planets
This very pretty loop from Saint Luc allows first to reach the famous hotel Weisshorn located at more than 2300 meters through forest paths in a idyllic setting in the middle of larches which would almost make us forget the effort to climb there!
Arrived at the Weisshorn, we take advantage of the sun and the wonderful unobstructed view of the snow-capped peaks in front of us to take a short break and warm up before continuing the loop.
While the landscape over the valley is very pretty from the Weisshorn, I must admit that the panorama behind the Weisshorn is much nicer in my opinion. As we advance, the winter landscape that I had come to seek is revealed in front of us. Immaculate white expanses on which spread the soft shadows of the summits. A field of whipped cream so perfect it seems unreal. I could have stayed there for hours contemplating the dance of the shadows and the glistening of the snow.
But we have to go back in, so we continue on the portion of the planets trail between Uranus and Neptune. This fairly unique educational path allows, if completed in its entirety, to cover the 6 billion km of the solar system in 6 km. with sculptures of each planet, arranged in proportional distance and to scale.
I admit that even if the sculptures of the planets are very impressive, I did not particularly appreciate this portion of the trail, and I am not saying that because we got lost, no, no… In short, if like unlike us you follow the signs correctly, you should be able to return to Saint Luc easily and quickly and take the opportunity to visit this charming village and its typical Valais wooden chalets.
Orzival course n ° 7
As we were staying in Saint Jean, we did not look very long for the path that we would achieve for this second day. The Orzival route from Saint Jean seemed to have been created for us!
This route does not make a real loop, but the last section being on the road, you can easily finish the last hundred meters on foot to return to Saint Jean, unless you prefer to take a bus.
After a very steep first ascent in the forest, the trail joins the first Alpine chalets from where we enjoy a magnificent view of the peaks. In my opinion, in the morning the view is much nicer on this slope flooded by the morning lights!
We continue for a while, alternating between passages in the undergrowth and unobstructed views before definitively exceeding the forest line. The path, although marked had not been traced, understand that we were walking in a good layer of powder which significantly increased the difficulty of the terrain. But the spectacle in front of us was well worth all these efforts!
Arrived at the Orzival pasture, we then went back down to Mayoux, taking advantage of the beautiful slopes to have fun sliding on the buttocks!
The other snowshoe trails in the Val d’Anniviers
If you are looking for other ideas for hikes, easier or more difficult, you will find all the information on the website of theVal d’Anniviers tourist office.
Other activities in the Val d’Anniviers
In addition to snowshoeing, the Val d’Anniviers also allows you to indulge in many other winter activities. Among the main ones, you will be able to:
- go downhill skiing, ski touring or cross-country skiing
- enjoy the ice rinks
- climb ice waterfalls
- visit ice caves
And if you can’t / don’t want to stick your nose out, you can:
- make your rye bread in a common oven
- enjoy the local gastronomy and taste good cheeses, raclette or fondue
- visit the authentic villages
How to get there ?
To discover the Val d’Anniviers in winter, several options are available to you:
- by car: exit from the A9 motorway from Sierre. It will then take about 45mn-1h in winter to reach Zinal at the bottom of the valley depending on the state of the roads. If you come from France you will have to pay 30 € for the Swiss sticker which will allow you to take the motorway. And in any case, please, think about planning chains or even better, fit winter tires on your car.
- by train – public transport: Switzerland is a paradise for trains and public transport. In my opinion, this is the best option to discover this beautiful country, especially in winter when you can quickly be blocked by snow when you come by car. And even if you live in a small village, don’t panic, there are many bus lines circulate free of charge in the Val d’Anniviers in winter in order to drop off tourists at the various stations.
- by plane: The nearest airport is Geneva. If you choose this option, you will then need either rent a car or take the train to your destination.
Or sleep ?
If coming to the Val d’Anniviers is relatively easy, finding accommodation is a different story.
Like all the valleys of Valais, the Val d’Anniviers is very touristy. I therefore advise you to go there in advance to book your accommodation.
Regarding these, you will have several choices:
- A centrally located accommodation in the heart of one of the 3 resorts: very practical if you want to be at the foot of the slopes, but not very economical or very authentic. Even if here we are very far from the horrible bars of buildings that we can see in the resorts of the French Alps (shame on us), the big resorts do not have the cachet of small villages.
- Accommodation in a village, a little out of the way from the station: it’s less practical, you will have to take the bus or the car to get around, you will probably not have a restaurant or supermarket but it is cheaper and above all, what is it beautiful ! If you are looking for a cozy, cocooning and authentic atmosphere away from the crowd, this is exactly what you need!
What do you think of these ideas for snowshoe hikes in the Val d’Anniviers?
Other winter weekend ideas
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