Trekking Without Camping? It’s Doable in the Alps

Where to find the best supported hiking in the world 

Are you ready for supported hiking?

Do you love a long, lonely trail, but shudder at the thought of spending a night in a tent? Is “These boots were made for walking—but not camping” your theme song?

Do you prefer to not sleep on the ground? Do you prefer going to the bathroom in a toilet you can flush? Do you look forward to a hot shower at the end of a long day of hiking? You’re not alone.

And most importantly, do you want to spend long days on the trail without carrying 40 pounds worth of tent, clothes, sleeping bag, food, and camp kitchen on your back? Then maybe you’re ready for the freedom that comes with supported hiking.

What is supported hiking?

Supported hiking is thru-hiking or trekking where your lodging and meals are provided in mountain hotels, huts, refuges, or rifugios. It’s often called inn-to-inn or hut-to-hut hiking. Accommodations include bedding, hot meals, running water, and an electrical supply to provide lighting and a way to charge handheld devices.

 In the Alps you can walk for days and weeks on end and stay in a network of mountain inns and refuges without ever leaving the mountains. You can even take supported hiking a step further by shuttling your luggage so you’re not carrying a heavy backpack. Instead, your bag is transferred to the next inn, rifugio or hotel. You’ll travel light and carry just the essentials such as raingear, trail snacks, water, and your camera.

Guided or Self-guided

Supported hiking is available on both a guided and self-guided basis. As the name suggests, a guided trip includes the services of a professional hiking or trekking guide who brings a wealth of experience to the trip and shares their knowledge of the flora, wildlife, history and culture of the area where you’re hiking. But self-guided hikers have the flexibility to select their preferred dates and adapt the itinerary to suit their needs and interests.

On an Alpenwild self-guided trip we book the inns, refuges, and mountain hotels, including most meals, or as many as desired. We include the most cost-effective transportation options for your trip such as a railpass or discounted day passes. We provide a detailed daily itinerary, including maps and transportation schedules. We offer as many or as few luggage transfers as you desire. Finally, we provide a 24-hour emergency support service, so that if weather, injury, or anything else derails your plans you’ll have someone in the Alps—usually in your immediate area—who you can talk with to work out a solution, which might include riding with the luggage shuttle, finding alternative accommodations, or assisting with alternative transportation such as a bus or taxi.     

Favorite Inn-to-inn Hikes in the Alps

The following are just a few of the classic treks of the Alps that offer all the convenience and comfort of supported hiking:

Finally, remember that even though you have a guide, luggage transfers, and a cozy place to stay each night you still need to be a fit and prepared hiker. On the Alpenwild website you’ll see the distances and elevation gain/descent for each day on the tour. Review those stats and makes sure you are comfortable with the difficulty and level of fitness each tour requires. Remember that the ultimate goal is to have the vacation of a lifetime, not just finish the trek.

Greg Witt
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