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Walk to Lac d'Arpitettaz

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  • An isolated hut
    An isolated hut
    Photo: Jack Cunliffe, Macs Adventure
m 2600 2400 2200 2000 1800 1600 1400 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
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.
Distance 14.7 km
5:00 h
917 m
883 m
2,584 m
1,672 m

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.

Author’s recommendation

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.
Profile picture of Jack Cunliffe
Jack Cunliffe
Update: March 05, 2020
Highest point
2,584 m
Lowest point
1,672 m

Track types

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Safety information

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.


Tips and hints

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.


Lac 'dArpitettaz

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


Zinal, Hotel Pointe de Zinal (1,677 m)
2'614'470E 1'109'480N
46.136658, 7.625889
46°08'12.0"N 7°37'33.2"E
32T 393861 5110149
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Zinal, Hotel Pointe de Zinal

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km - Start at the Hotel Pointe de Zinal, with your back to it and TURN RIGHT to continue down Zinal road

1.10 km - As you leave the village of Zinal, cross the road at the T Junction into a car park and BEAR RIGHT to cross a bridge and join a wide trail, passing through some cattle gates and fences

2.90 km - BEAR RIGHT to stay on the path as it ascends

4.80 km - TURN LEFT off the trail and over a large wooden bridge that crosses the river bed, then BEAR LEFT ascending a small trail which passes over a second smaller bridge (the waterfall view is also here)  before the trail begins to ascend in a zig-zag up the steep slope

5.90 km - Pass a shepherds hut to your left and rise up through the meadow, staying on the same path

6.60 km - BEAR RIGHT onto one of the paths running adjacent to each other in the long gully, follow to the end of the gully then BEAR LEFT and you are at the lake. Here is the point to turn back if you want the easier version of the hike. For a moderate-strenuous walk continue as per the instructions below. 

7.00 km - From the lake, BEAR LEFT onto a small path that ascends away from the lake

8.60 km - As the trail levels out, cross the fence using the metal ladder and BEAR LEFT off the rail for 20 metres to enjoy the view from Roc de la Vache before returning to the trail and continuing over the plateaux

9.30 km - The path begins to descend, and will do until the finish, stick to the path

11.70 km - A farm is being built, BEAR LEFT and another trail will rejoin the main trail in 200 metres

12.50 km - BEAR LEFT to stay on the larger trail

13.20 km - The trail meets the road, cross the gate and then BEAR LEFT to join the road

13.60 km - After the second hairpin bend in the road, TURN RIGHT down a narrow path that descends off the road and then meets a track, TURN RIGHT on this track

14.00 km - When you meet the road again, TURN RIGHT and follow the road back to the start point

14.70 km - You have finished the days trekking, you are back where you started.





all notes on protected areas


2'614'470E 1'109'480N
46.136658, 7.625889
46°08'12.0"N 7°37'33.2"E
32T 393861 5110149
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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.

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Phyllis Grove
August 23, 2018 · Community
Gorgeous views on this hike.
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Lac d'Arpitettaz
Photo: Phyllis Grove, Community

Photos from others

14.7 km
5:00 h
917 m
883 m
Highest point
2,584 m
Lowest point
1,672 m
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