Those of you who have been following us for quite some time know that we really love Val d’Hérens. It is primarily thanks to our friends Patricia and Christine (they were the cosy bed and breakfast “chalet le rucher” and know guide people in the Val d’Hérens) that we discovered this little paradise. It was Patricia who had already suggested that we hike the Val d’Hérens circle hike in 2015 when we returned from our round-the-world trip. Seduced by the incredible landscapes but also the living traditions of this valley, we came back several times to hike around the area (without necessarily taking the time to share these adventures with you here #ouuppssssss).
Two weeks ago, we went back to the region to visit our friends and enjoy the beautiful fall colors. You should know that the Hérens valley is covered with forests of larch trees that turn orange in the fall… That’s one of the reasons why we love to come and hike around here at the end of the year.
So today we wanted to share with you some nice autumn walks in the Val d’Hérens. Hoping that it makes you want to come and discover this timeless valley and its golden larch trees.
From Ferpècle to the Bricola hut
We start by going to the bottom of the Val d’Hérens, in the Ferpècle valley, at the foot of the Mont Miné and Ferpècle glaciers (and also at the foot of the beautiful Dents Blanche). This place is magical and preserved but to reach it you’ll have to be patient 😉 . You will have to pass the village of Evolène, La Sage then go up to the small village of La Forclaz to continue to the bottom of the valley where you can park (count 50 minutes by car from Sion).
- Distance 6.7kms
- Denivelation 550m d+-
- Difficulty medium
- Duration 3-4h
- Departure One of the small parking places at the end of the Ferpècle road
The aim of this hike is to climb up to the Bricola hut (a closed building that was used as accommodation during the Grande Dixence construction works). The hut is located at the foot of the famous Dent Blanche and has a splendid view over the glaciers and the entire Ferpècle valley. As the hut is located at 2400m, ask about the snow conditions if you want to come here in autumn.
The idea is to go up towards the hut on the left side of the small dam (uphill). After a fairly gentle part, the path then climbs much steeper. But believe us, you will be rewarded for your efforts with magnificent views of the glaciers. Once you reach the hut, you will also have a breathtaking view of the Dent Blanche and its 4358m.
We then went back down by the same path except that we crossed the bridge at the foot of the glacier to reach the dam by the other side this time.
Val des dix circle hike
Still in the Val d’Hérens, we now take you to discover the Val des dix (which is actually the part of the Val d’Hérens where the Grande Dixence dam is located). A nice walk that will make you discover several typical villages of the region such as Hérémence (and its church with its modern architecture that contrasts with the village) or Mâche.
- Distance 11.5kms
- Dénivelation 500m d+-
- Difficulty medium
- Duration 3-5h
- Start Big parking lot at the entrance of the Hérémence village
The hike starts in the pretty village of Hérémence, which represents very well the villages of the Val d’Hérens. There are “raccards” (but also granaries and chalets), typical buildings from the alpine valleys of Valais, which are old wooden barns built on stilts (to prevent rodents from reaching the grains). Today, part of these barns have been renovated into houses. But as they are part of the heritage in the Val d’Hérens, their facades are for the most part still the same.
From Hérémence, you first go down in the direction of the Letévèno bridge. On the left, you have a magnificent view of the whole Hérens valley. We can see the pyramids of Euseigne just below us and the imposing Dent Blanche which thrones at the bottom of the valley.
In autumn, the color palette and the landscapes are really magical (even if the weather was not very nice the day we did this hike). Once on the other side of the bridge, we walk up gently on the other side. After crossing “la Dixence” once again we go up to the charming village of Mâche where you can once again admire the built heritage of the Val d’Hérens.
To return to our starting point, we continue to climb above the village of Mâche to the hamlet of Riod. From there, we have a breathtaking view on the Val des Dix and the Grande Dixence dam. We continue on a long flat traverse to the ski lifts of “les Masses”. A little bit after the facilities, a path goes “straight down” to Hérémence to complete the loop. And if you still have some energy left, go visit the church of Hérémence and its surprising architecture which will not leave you indifferent.
The famous blue lake of Arolla
The blue lake is undoubtedly the most famous place in the Val d’Hérens. This place is a real postcard with its turquoise blue lake in the middle of its mountains and larch trees. On the other hand, the blue lake is unfortunately victim of its success and I would not recommend you to come hiking around here on weekends, at the risk of finding yourself with 200 other people around the lake.
- Distance 6kms
- Dénivelation 200m d+ and 3-400m d-
- Difficulty easy
- Duration 2-3h
- Start The village of Arolla that is accessible by public transportation
There are several ways to hike to the Blue Lake. If you travel by public transport, I recommend you to take the bus to the village of Arolla (see the timetable on the sbb website). From there, there is a nice balcony path that will take you to the blue lake in about 1h -1h30 walking (see the map above). After having enjoyed these exceptional landscapes, you can go directly down to “la Gouille” (there is a bus stop there) or continue to the village of Les Haudères through the “alpage de l’étoile” if you still have energy left.
If you are driving, the shortest (and easiest) way is to park at “la Gouille” and make a loop passing by the lake. Whichever option you choose, you’re going to be in for a real treat! See for yourself:
De l’alpage de Mandelon aux mayens de Vendes
This hike is a kind of the secret spot of our friend Patricia. An easy round trip from the mountain pasture of Mandelon to the mayens of Vendes with some superb views over the Dents Blanche and the Matterhorn (which is even reflected in a small lake it seems … but shhhhhhh it’s a secret 😉 )
- Distance 8.4kms
- Denivelation around 200m d+-
- Difficulty easy
- Duration 2-3h
- Start end of the road that goes up the Mandelon mountain pasture
This beautiful walk starts from the Mandelon mountain pasture, which is also a magical place to listen and observe the deer’s rut in autumn. As Mandelon is located between the Val des Dix and the Val d’Hérens, we can see the Grande Dixence dam on the first part of the hike, then the Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn on the second part. I’ll put some more pictures below just to give you a taste 😉 .
And if you want to do a longer version of this hike, we did a very nice loop from the village of Pralong through the col de la Meina and back passing by this little lake. However, it’s quite a day hike with more than 20kms and something like 1200m of d+-.
That’ s it for these few ideas of autumn hikes in the Val d’Hérens. I hope that these 4 itineraries will make you want to come and discover this preserved valley when the larch trees are getting their golden colors.
And of course, if you are looking for a charming base for your getaways in the Val d’Hérens, stay at our friend Patricia’s guesthouse. She will welcome you with passion and enthusiasm in her beautiful chalet “le rucher”.