A loop walk, starting in Zinal which rises up to the clear waters of Lac d'Arpitettaz before climbing on to Roc de la Vache before a long and winding descent back into Zinal. For an easier option, stop at Lac d'Arpitettaz and retrace your steps back to Zinal. For a more challenging walk, continue to Roche de la Vache as per the instructions below.
A great walk to the Lac d'Arpitettaz, high in the Anniviers Valley with views of the 'Imperial Crown', the name given to the 4,000m peaks which surround Zinal and the Val d'Anniviers. This walk does have a tough ascent, rising 700 metres in 3 kilometres, but the views are astounding. Walking through pine forests, under glacial waterfalls and through shepherds meadows complete with wildflowers, the ringing bells of the livestock and the occasional bark of a Pyrenees mountain dog guarding the flock.
The lake is just before the halfway point, and by retracing your steps from the lake the route is a shorter 12 kilometres, and has 300 metres less ascent. You will miss out on the view from the Roc de la Vache, but the route is still stunning without the second section.
Take a moment at Roc de la Vache to enjoy the view back down Val d'Anniviers - but be careful of the edge, it is a 3000-foot drop.
The weather can change rapidly in the Alps, always check the forecast before you start the days hiking and pack appropriately. If the weather is too rough, do not begin the trek.
There can be left over snow drifts early in the season, which can sometimes have melted underneath - particularly if it covers moving water. Just because it looks solid, it doesn't mean it is. Exercise extreme caution when crossing such snow drifts and if possible walk around them to where you can see the solidity of the ground clearly.
Some of the ground can be uneven, with rocky/pebbly paths and even ice. Ensure you have suitable footwear with ankle support, and step cautiously when needed.
Much of the path is on clifftops and there has been some erosion, for this reason, the path is sometimes unclear, be careful of the drop and of loose rocks and edges to the cliffs.
Some of the gates are cattle deterrents and are electrified, be sure to use the plastic handles and reattach the cable to the housing when you pass through, they are 12 volts, so not dangerous but very unpleasant.
As well as the appropriate shoes and layered clothing for the changeable weather and other essentials, you should consider walking poles, UV sunglasses and at least factor 30 suncream. The sun is bright and high UV in the higher Alps and the snow can reflect it and intensify the exposure.
Food and Drink
There are no stops. You can buy a packed lunch from one of the supermarkets in Zinal, or get the hotel to make you a packed lunch.
Points of Interest
The waterfall at 5.1 Kilometres
Just away from the path, to the right, is a powerful glacial waterfall. There is a signpost for the 'cascade' and it is well worth a 2-minute detour to stand in its mist.
At the halfway point of the walk is this small lake, crystalline in its clarity. If the wind is low, the mountains are reflected in its still water. there is a bench next to the lake, which makes this a nice lunch stop with a very special view. For an easy-moderate walk, retrace your steps from here back to Zinal.
Roc de la Vache
At over 2500 metres high, and with unspoilt views down the valley, this spot is a special place to take five minutes. Be careful of the edge, it is very high.
This tour is available on the following itineraries: WSWITVD