Highlights on the Via Alpina
There are so many highlights I can’t possibly do justice to them in one blog post. Here are my standout moments and undiscovered gems. I’m sure yours will be different:
Favorites on the Via Alpina 1
The Foopass (Stage 3) is full of surprises. Having never crossed it before, I had no idea what to expect. And in late June there was still remaining snowfall that made the ascent especially challenging and exciting.
The Weisstannental (Stage 3) is another undiscovered gem. Waterfalls pour off both sides of this long, gentle valley, and dozens of alpine farms stretch from the valley floor to nearly the pass.
The Glarus Tectonic Arena (Stage 3) displays what happened when the continents of Africa and Europe collided, and older rock strata edged their way above the younger rocks. This overthrust is a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Swiss Tectonic Arena Sardona.
The Erzeggrat to Planplatten ridgeline with views to the Wetterhorn (Stage 10) is what hiking in the Alps is all about.
Engstligen Falls near Adelboden (Stage 15) is the 2nd largest waterfall in Switzerland. It’s clearly visible from the Via Alpina route, but deserve a side trip to be fully enjoyed.
When to hike the Via Alpina
That depends on how much of it you’re hiking, what your priorities are, and weather variations from year to year. If your plan is to hike the Via Alpina 1 as a through hiker and hiking east to west, you can start as early as mid-June, knowing that in some years you may encounter remaining snowfields and pass closures into the first week of July. If you’re looking for the best wildflowers and gushing waterfalls, July is ideal. If you want the warmest weather then August could be preferable. And don’t overlook September. It’s late in the season, and the wildflowers are largely gone, but so are the crowds. September in the Swiss Alps generally offers excellent hiking weather.
Hike the Via Alpina Guided or Self-Guided
Alpenwild is the only tour operator offering the Via Alpina 1 on both a guided and self-guided basis, and their staff is well-equipped to answer detailed questions to assist you in making your plans. If you are a single hiker, they will strongly encourage you to join a small group guided tour. But for a couple or a small group of friends you can have a great experience either as a guided or self-guided hiker. You’ll find more information about the various advantages of guided or self-guided hiking on their website under Is a Self-Guided Trip for Me?
Why hike the Via Alpina?
The Via Alpina 1 is the definitive hiking trail through the Swiss Alps. There is simply no better way to experience the essence of the Swiss Alps than on the Via Alpina 1. You can hike it as a through hiker or non-sequentially as I did. You can cherry-pick the easy stages or the more demanding stages, the well-known stages or the off-the-beaten-track stages, the high passes or the deep valleys, the glitzy resorts or the traditional farming villages. With every hike in the Alps, I’m rewarded with more than I ever expect.
Thank you for reading about my Via Alpina adventures. I invite you to join us on the Via Alpina next summer on either of two exciting tours, the Via Alpina or Bernese Oberland Traverse. I’m sure the journey will be just as memorable for you as it has been for me!
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