One of my favorite Valais hikes was the Panorama trail in the Saas Fee valley, east of Zermatt. Cable cars zip you up to Hohsaas, where you have a breathtaking view of an enormous glacier and the surrounding mountains. At the top, we hiked the short Panorama trail that includes signboards about 18 mountains taller than 4000 meters tall. The trail goes right up to the glacier, so you can walk on it a little bit. Back at the middle cable car station, there is a cafe and big playground. From here, you can do the short Wellness sensory trail that has several stations with educational facts. This was one of the prettiest hikes we’ve done in Switzerland and it had lots of things to keep the kids interested and busy.
|Address:||Im Grund, 3910 Saas-Grund CH
GPS: 46°07’40.8″N 7°56’18.4″E
|Car:||3hr30 from Zurich|
|Transit:||2hr50 from Zurich|
|Trail:||2 trails, both 1 km, about 1 hour each|
|Open:||July through Oct|
There are two short trails suitable for children accessed by the Saas Grund cable car. I recommend planning to both in the same day.
The Panorama trail is at the top of the Hohsaas cable car. It is a 1 km loop on rocky terrain, passing 18 informational signboards describing various mountains over 4000m high. The views are spectacular, particularly of the nearby glacier.
The Wellness sensory trail is at the Kreuzboden middle station. It is also a 1 km loop, easy walking, but not really for strollers. There is a big playground and restaurant adjacent to this trail.
Drive to Saas Grund, which is a small town right before you reach the more well-known Saas Fee. The cable car to Kreuzboden/Hohsaas leaves from here. There’s plenty of parking and the bus stops nearby.
Buy return tickets all the way to Hohsaas (the top), even if you don’t plan to hike there. It’s worth the view. In 2016, an adult return ticket cost CHF 39, SBB Half-fare and Junior cards are accepted. This ticket also includes stopping at the Kreuzboden middle station before heading back down to the valley.
The cable car goes from Saas Grund to Kreuzboden, then you get on another cable car to Hohsaas. At the top of Hohsaas, there is a wide trail down to a cafe as shown below.
But instead, follow the “18 Viertausender” signs up a narrow rocky trail. Then you to take family pics like this one – woohoo.
The trail is a bit steep at first and definitely no strollers on this one. But it’s pretty short and not super difficult. We spent about 1hr30mins on the trail but actually walking time was probably 30 minutes. It’s a loop trail, so you first go up then dip down to the glacier, then circle back around and back up a bit to the cable car. I carried my almost 3yr old some of the way, but he liked to walk too. Obviously I was ill-prepared on the footwear as you can see he was wearing crocs on the snow. He survived.
There are 18 markers on the trail (I think, I didn’t count, it could be false advertising), one for each of the over 4000m mountain peaks. There’s a story about the peak on the sign board and a rock that supposedly has the same shape as the peak.
At the top of the trail, you get this lovely view of a glacial lake.
Then you get to walk down and do your best to not fall in. Don’t worry, the real trail doesn’t require walking across the lake on small stones.
We left the trail for awhile and climbed around on the rocks and a bit of the glacier. Then we settled on this super pretty picnic spot. My kids spent a lot of time building dams in the little streams running off the glacier.
We were fascinated watching hikers go up and down the glacier. It looks so dangerous from our vantage point.
When you’re done at the top, you can take the cable car back to the middle station at Kreuzboden. Here you’ll find Hohsi Land, with a big playground, rock climbing boulder, a little man-made stream to play in, a little pond, go karts, trotti scooters, a little petting zoo, etc. We ate ate a rather unappetizing, but typically expensive lunch at the cafe. I’d recommend a picnic instead.
Just below the playground and to the right of the lake, you’ll find the Hohsi trail, which has various nature-themed educational signboards (slightly neglected) and sensory exhibits. Apparently, you can buy a little “Expeditionssäckli” with a workbook, crayons, and craft materials for 5CHF at the cable car ticket booth. But we didn’t get it, so I don’t know about that. We liked the suspension bridge where strangely, the wind made a very weird sound only when you were on the bridge, like a magic trick. We also liked the barefoot trail, which finishes in an icy cold water bath for your feet and arms.
At the end of this trail, there are some hammocks and sun beds so you can relax. Well, my kids wanted me to push their hammock like a swing, so I wasn’t really relaxing. But I could see how someone else might be able to relax in this situation.