A relaxed day’s walk traversing the mountainside on a path surrounded by alpine flowers and trees, with views of grand peaks ahead beyond Zinal, nestled in the valley below.
Today’s walk is a much-needed easy going amble down to the valley. In fine weather, views to the valley’s ‘Imperial Crown’ open up, the name given to the collection of five 4000m peaks that surround Zinal. The Bishorn, Weisshorn, Zinalrothorn , Obergabelhorn and the Dent Blanche feel close enough touch. The trail is gently undulating, and you will be following the waymarking for the famous Sierre-Zinal trail running race. The final descent is steep, but shouldn’t be too taxing given the previously easy terrain. Zinal is a small alpine town and is a great place to replenish and relax. It also has a wonderful microbrewery attached to the Hotel le Besso– great for beer lovers!
Today’s walk gives some reprieve from long ascents, so relax and take on a slower pace – make the most of the benches along the way and stop to admire the alpine flowers and mountains vistas.
In the early season (end of June early July) there is a small chance you could encounter snow on the trail – this will likely be soft and easy to cross if you are used to the terrain. If the snow patches are unavoidable or hard-packed (i.e. requiring winter equipment; ice axes and crampons) we advise that you do not do the route if you don’t have the relevant experience or equipment. Retrace your steps and take alternative transport to Zinal (descend on foot/cable car to St. Luc and bus/taxi to Zinal)
The route on today’s stage is generally well maintained and follows the Sierre-Zinal running race signage along gravel paths and tracks. There are some wooden bridges and short sections of handrail in the forest when descending to Zinal to protect areas where the path is worn – there is a steep drop onto forested slopes here so do take care.
Although today’s route is relatively easy going you are still in the Alps and if the weather isn’t great you will be exposed to the elements before entering the forests to descend to Zinal so please bring appropriate clothing – even if it’s a sunny morning the weather can change to rain or thunderstorms in the afternoon. Bring plenty of food and water (at least 2 litres) for the day’s walk, along with waterproofs, warm layers and comfortable sturdy walking boots/shoes. You may also wish to bring poles to help with balance, and the ascents and descents.
Points of Interest
The hotel is situated at 2337 m with excellent views of the Meidpass and the Bella Tola peak. It was built by Francesco Mosoni in 1882, then destroyed by fire in 1889 and rebuilt in 1891. All the material was carried up the mountain by mules, and it’s said that the piano was carried by 6 men.
Along the route you will see, and follow, signposts for the Sierre-Zinal race. The Sierre-Zinal trail-running race is one of the longest running mountain races in the Alps - it has been going for over 40 years now - and is one of the most reknowned in the trail-running circle. It's not hard to see why it's so popular when the race takes in views of five 4000 m peaks: Weisshorn, Obergablehorn, Dent Blanche, Zinalrothhorn, and the Matterhorn.
The village of Zinal has only ~380 year-round inhabitants, but it is a haven for nature-lovers and tourists who come here in the summer for hiking and sight-seeing and in the winter for downhill skiing and other winter sports. The area surrounding the village is rich with wildlife including the iconic alpine ibex, marmot and chamois.
Food & Drink
Ask for a packed lunch at Hotel Weisshorn as there is nowhere to eat enroute. Make sure you have enough food and water (at least 2 litres) for the day. There are plenty of beautiful spots along the trail where you can stop for a picnic lunch. On arriving in Zinal you’ll find a choice of restaurants, a supermarket (open 7 days a week in the summer season) and a sports equipment shop.
This tour is available on the following itineraries: WSTOTM, WSTOTMN