Mountain Hut with Kids: Boval Hut

We loved our stay at the Boval hut, overlooking the Morteratsch glacier and surrounding peaks. The hike up is 5km, with 600m in elevation gain, which is challenging for little kids but not too difficult. We saw several other families on the trail. The accomodations and food were no frills, but the view of the glacier was fantastic. This glacier has receded dramatically recently and there are photos along the trail, showing how it looked at different point over over the last 100 years. We recommend this hike both for day trippers and overnight stays.

We love staying in mountain huts, so we can see the sun set and rise over the mountains. See more of our mountain hut hikes and Mountain Huts with Kids for an overview of how these huts work.

Location: Central Switzerland
Address: Morteratsch, Pontresina, Graubunden, Switzerland
GPS: 46°27’10.9″N 9°56’28.7″E
Car: 3 hours from Zurich
Parking: 46°27’12.1″N 9°56’28.8″E
Train: 3hr40 from Zurich HB
Train stop: Morteratsch
Adult round trip fare with SBB Half-fare: ~CHF 79
   
Trail: 5 km one way, about 2.5 hours
Condition: dirt, alpine path
Skill: moderate, 600m elevation gain
Open: June through October
More info: www.boval.ch

Overview

Here is the Morteratsch glacier. You will be hiking parallel to this glacier for the duration of the hike. You will be high up on the west side of the hill, so no direct access to the glacier. There is another hike in the valley that hikes to the actual ice and you can walk on it.

The hike to the Boval hut starts at the Morteratsch train station and hikes about 5 km up the valley, on the west hillside bordering the glacier. The trail is narrow dirt alpine trail with some steep parts and switchbacks, gaining 600m in elevation.

My 8 year old said the trail “wasn’t hard, but it makes you tired.” We saw lots of kids on the trail, the youngest maybe 6 years old. It certainly takes effort but it’s not technically difficult.

You can eat lunch at the hut and hike back in the same day. Or you can sleep overnight. If you stay overnight, you’ll need a reservation for weekends in case it fills up. Contact info on their website. We called to reserve just two days ahead. They spoke English.

Many people stay in the hut so they can get up at 4 am the next day and hike to the mountain summits and across the glacier. We are not so ambitious and prefer to enjoy the peaks from a safe distance.

See my Mountain Huts with Kids post for an overview of how these huts work.

Getting There

The hut is located in the lower Engadin, Graubunden region, south of Pontresina as shown on the map below.

By car: Drive south of Pontresina and turn off at the Morteratsch sign, which takes you down a narrow paved road, past a camping area, to a big metered dirt parking lot near the train station. You can park here for up to 5 days. The other small parking areas along the road are limited to a few hours.

By transit: Take a train to Pontresina, then another local train to Morteratsch. The train station drops off directly at the trail head.

Morteratsch is southeast of Pontresina. You’ll turn off the main road onto a narrow access road that passes by a campground and some small parking areas. At the end of the road, there is a big metered parking lot (multiday parking allowed). This parking lot can fill up on busy weekends. When we went, there was a sign saying the parking lot was full and the road closed. We just kept driving and there were lots of spots. So use your best judgment. Please note that if you are staying overnight, the other smaller parking areas only let you park for a few hours, not overnight.

Trail Impressions

From the parking lot at the end of the road, it’s a short walk up the river to a hotel/restaurant with patio seating and the Morteratsch train station shown below. The restaurant is expensive but there is also a kiosk next door selling sausage and ice cream. No grocery or kiosk so make sure you have all your supplies beforehand. If you need supplies, drive back to Pontresina where you’ll find a Coop.

Cross the tracks to access the trail.

The river is raging near the start of the trail. This is a nice place for  a picnic before you head out, but no swimming, the water is too rough.

The hike to the hut forks to the right on a small footpath that leads up into the forest. Follow signs to “Chna. Boval CAS.” The wider flat trail stays in the valley and leads to the ice.

This is an alpine trail with lots of lumpy rocky sections. Hiking sticks are recommended.

You cross a few streams with walkways.

There were a few old pictures of the glacier along the trail, showing how much bigger it was, not so long ago.

A few waterfalls and streams coming down the mountain.

Looking back down the trail. We started at the far end of that valley.

Heading up the side of this mountain.

Very rocky trail.

Enjoying the glacier.

So happy to finally see the hut above us.

We arrived about 18:30 in mid-July when the sun had already slipped behind the peaks.

Our beds on long bunks. Dinner with the other guests. We were served mushroom cream soup, salad, spaghetti bolognese, meiringue with cream for dessert. We could get as much free tap water as we liked, just ask at the front (also to fill up water bottles). Other drinks were available for purchase. Your one dish is used for all courses. See my Mountain Huts with Kids post for more info about how these huts work, rules, etc.

We spent the evening admiring the glacier from above.

Sunset on the alps.

Many guests get up at 4:00 to start their long hikes to the surrounding peaks. They are a little noisy but my kids didn’t wake up. Most other guests get up around 6:00, which is when we woke up because sun was pouring into the rooms and lots of people were rustling around. It was nice to enjoy sunrise on the alps.

After breakfast we chatted with other guests who were planning their day.

Back on the trail heading back down.

About 2/3 of the way down, the trail forks to the right and you can take an alternate way back, hiking down to the valley trail. We took this on the way back and it was very nice.

This alternate section winds down through forest and boulders.

Looking back at the glacier, now so far away.

Almost down to the valley trail.

Back on the flat wide dusty trail in the valley. No tree cover here so it was very hot!

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Hike to Boval Hut, overlooking the Morteratsch glacier and surrounding peaks. Fun for a day hike or overnight stay with kids.

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