A new blog post about hiking in Switzerland today and this time we are going to focus on a part of the Valais that we don’t know very well yet: the Upper Valais and especially the Saas Valley. Everybody (or almost) knows the famous resort of Saas Fee, but you have to know that the valley offers many other treasures to discover. So, it’s with our van Dahu and Winchy (our dog) that we came to spend 2 days in Saas Grund and more particularly on the Hohsaas side!
If we came here, initially, it was to make some scouting for the coliving project. We had seen 1-2 properties in the area and as we didn’t know the area, we thought we would plan a little weekend before considering coming to visit a property.
Spoil: Most likely, this valley won’t be the place where we’ll open our coliving 😉 The area is splendid, but we quickly understood that if the prices of certain properties could seem so advantageous it was for reasons of classification in avalanche zone and when we saw the ground/area where we had spotted houses, we quickly realized that we did not especially want to settle there… 😉
But let’s face it, even if we won’t come here to open a coliving space, the region is worth the visit! Since we were there, we took the opportunity to stay one night at the campsite and to do a nice hike: a loop from Saas Grund to Hohsaas and Saas Almagell.
Cable car ride to Hohsaas
Before starting the hike, we decided to make a little extra “detour”. Actually, it wasn’t really planned to tell you everything. We had quickly planned our route and saw that we were leaving from the Kreuzboden cable car station.
Once in Kreuzboden, we got out of the cabin and were about to start walking… when suddenly, we wondered if our Saaskarte allowed us to go to the top of the Hohsaas? After a quick check, we realized that yes! And well, it’s not every day that we have the opportunity to go over 3000m without any effort. 😉
If you come to do the hike and you have the Saaskarte (more about this card later in the blog post), we strongly advise you to plan an extra 30 to 45 minutes to admire the view from up there! (Note: without the Saaskarte, this 2nd part of the trip is extra)
At the top of the gondola you are plunged into a 100% mineral world, almost lunar! It’s really beautiful! At the time of our passage, there were unfortunately some clouds and we could only guess the summit of the Weismies above us (4023m), but on the other hand we already had a very beautiful view on the Trift glacier and the Mischabel massif on the other side of the valley.
Oh and on a completely different note… this was Winchy’s first experience in a gondola. He wasn’t very comfortable with the idea on the way up, but eventually adopted it. On the way down from the Hohsaas he was very happy to get into the cabin and he even took a nap 😉
Start of the hike in Kreuzboden (middle station of the Hohsaas): Höhenweg to Triftgrätji
Well, it’s nice to enjoy the view on the glaciers at more than 3000m, but if we came here it’s also to hike! Anyway, once back in Kreuzboden, we set off towards Saas Almagell. Our idea was to follow a classic route of the region: the Höhenweg. And let’s just say that it is well named (for the non-German speakers among you, Höhenweg means ridge path or altitude path).
The start is just behind the gondola and you start by crossing a small stream to reach the Alpenblumenpromenade (Alpine flower path). This marked route leads directly back down to Saas Grund. If you are interested in this route, you can find it on the Outdooractive website over here.
After just 2 km of walking, we arrive at the “official viewpoint” of Triftgrätji. If you look at the map later in this article, you will notice that there is a small tip on the route. It is from here that the view is the most panoramic shall we say… But let’s be fair, the view is simply exceptional on all the high part of our course of the day 😉
But here are some pictures of the viewpoint.
From this point, the view over Saas Grund and Saas Fee is simply incredible! In the background we have some emblematic giants in front of us: the Allalinhorn (4027m), the Alphubel (4206m) and the Dom (4545m).
Oh, and on a completely different note… During this walk, keep your eyes open! During the hike, we came across many Valais Blackneck, a sheep bread which is typical from the area. This breed is also called the glacier goats. After all, no matter what their name is, I personally find them very funny to look at! Their particularity? They have long hair and above all they are perfectly bicolored: the front is black while their back is all white. In Fribourg they are specialists of the half and half fondue, well in Valais we have the half and half goats. 🙂
From Triftgrätji to the Almagell alpine pasture
From the Triftgrätji, the trail continues along the mountain side with, still, a breathtaking view of these giants! We arrive quite quickly at a crossroads where the Alpenblumenweg signposting forks to the right. It would be possible to go back down to Saas Grund by this way, but if like us you want to continue to enjoy the panoramic view then continue straight ahead! 🙂
We evolve on a wide and secure path in the middle of the rock and avalanche barriers. By seeing the topography of the ground, it is not difficult to imagine that the villages located below are at risk…
At the time of our visit, there were several workers at work ready to add new structures… Needless to say, the work site seemed particularly delicate!
On the path, there are some signs that are not very reassuring if you want our humble opinion. It seems that the municipality has decided to use humor to warn the hikers… A little bit questionable but at least it will have made us more attentive to possible suspicious noises and especially not to dawdle too much on the way (I imagine that this is precisely what they were trying to achieve when the created this campaign) 😉
Once past this very steep area, the slope softens slightly and we start the “turn” in the direction of the Almagell alp. We still walk under the Weismies but we start to have the Almagellerhorn in our sights.
At the kilometer 5, we arrive at a crossing. From here, we see the mountain pasture which waits for us in the valley but especially we begin the descent properly speaking. Because yes, up to this point we have certainly already done 5km but we have hardly made 200m of descent… The remaining 900 are still in front of us.
At the level of the Almagelleralp we make a “U-turn” and we go down the valley this time. Note that it is possible to cut a few hundred meters before the alpine pasture if you wish.
Afterwards, if you have time, we still advise you to pass by their terrace for a small drink or a snack. On our side, the timing was unfortunately too tight (we started the walk in the middle of the afternoon and it was already 6 pm when we arrived here). Oh, and of course, if you feel like it, it is also possible to spend the night there. We didn’t see the interior, but you should know that the alpine hotel offers private rooms as well as dormitories. If you are interested, you can find more information here.
Return to Saas Grund via Saas Almagell
From the Almagell alp we continued on a nice path along a stream towards the forest above Saas Almagell. It is on this section that there is the most difference in altitude (about 600m of descent) but it is really well made; the path is wide enough and big laces in the forest allow to lose altitude quickly without it being too hard on the knees.
From Saas Almagell, we decided to return to Saas Grund by following the route along the Saaser Vispa, the river that flows down the valley and into the Rhone in Visp. On the first part we walked along the valley road, then we joined a wide path along the water. This part of the hike was a small formality, although not the most exciting in terms of scenery. No in truth it is not bad… the color of the water which arrives from the glaciers is beautiful and we are in the trees… but let’s just say that after the crazy views of the day, this end of hike is not quite as spectacular 😉
Afterwards, it would have been possible to take the bus to finish the walk, but well… we were there to walk after all 😉
Map and information for the hike
Here is the map of the route we followed:
Information about the hike in Saas Grund:
- Distance: 14,6 km
- Elevation change: 240m + and 1100 m –
- Duration: It took us about 4 hours
- Dificulty: easy – The route does not present any particular difficulty
Public transport and Hohsaas cable car:
It is possible to shorten the hike by 4km by taking the bus between Saas Almagell and Saas Grund (2 buses per hour, free with the Saaskarte).
To start the hike you have to take the cable car to Kreuzboden. If you have time, we recommend you to go up to the Hohsaas to enjoy the panorama and then go back down to Kreuzboden to start the hike. The gondola ticket costs CHF 48 (with the swiss half-fare card) for the round trip to the Hohsaas. See all the rates, but it is free if you stay in the valley and have the Saaskarte (more info below). The gondola runs every day from early June to mid October. The service times vary according to the period, the best is to check the timetables before you start your journey.
Sleeping in Saas Grund and get the Saaskarte
As you have seen above, the prices of the lifts are quite high (normal for Switzerland, but let’s say it’s expensive). In short, a “good deal” is to stay in the resort. Why should you do that? Simply because the region has launched the “Saaskarte” to encourage overnight stays. The concept? For each night spent in the valley (in a hotel, B&B, camping), the traveler automatically receives the Saaskarte for the duration of his stay. This card gives access to free public transportation, to the vast majority of cable cars (all except the alpine metro) as well as numerous discounts for visits and activities. You will find a list of everything that is included over here.
If we just take the gondola, you can see that our trip would have cost us 48 CHF for 2 people (knowing that we have the half fare card… so in full price it would be 96 CHF). So it’s quite easy to see that staying there pays off VERY quickly.
Note: The Saaskarte is only valid during summer and fall (it does not work in winter 😉 )
Campsites in Saas Grund
As we said at the beginning of the article, we came to explore the region with our van “le Dahu” 😉 Wild camping is strictly forbidden in the Saas Valley. And well, as we wanted to get the Saaskarte, we decided to sleep in the valley (it would have been possible to spend the night outside the territory of the municipality if we had wanted to go wild camping)
There is no lack of choice in this area! For vans and campers there are 2 options in the Saas Valley:
- Saas Fee parking lot P4: a concrete parking lot at the entrance of the resort. Price: 25 CHF / night (electricity and tourist tax not included)
- Go to one of the 3 campsites in Saas Grund. Prices are similar and they are very close to each other. Count 27 CHF per night (electricity, dog, booking fee and tourist tax not included).
We chose the one called the Kappellenweg (we chose a little bit randomly when we arrived, we had not reserved anything) and well… it has the merit to exist. After, we will admit to have found it VERY expensive to settle on a big lawn without any delimitation between the spaces. Basically, it’s a flat lawn and everyone piles up… The tourist tax being 7 CHF per person, the nightly rate was 49 CHF for 2 people and a dog (without electricity). It hurts!
Afterwards, if like us, you plan to use the cable cars, this price becomes a good deal since the night of the campsite is the same as 2 gondola tickets for the Hohsaas… But clearly, if you’re just looking for a place to rest for a few days, we advise you to skip it.
If you want to rent a van for your vacations, we advise you to look on Yescapa – the rental platform between individuals or on Blacksheep Van or Indiecamper if you prefer to rent from a professional. The rental rates depend on the vehicle and the time of year, but in Switzerland you should count between 100 CHF and 160 CHF per day.
Are you planning to visit Switzerland by train? We advise you to read our article which will allow you to compare the Swiss travel pass with the half-fare card. The article also includes 3 examples of train routes through Switzerland and the associated budget depending on the ticket you take.
If you prefer not to take a travel pass, but rather take advantage of the Supersaver tickets and day passes, then go to this post for all the details.
Hotels in Saas Fee, Saas Grund
We did not test any hotel in the area, but after a quick search on Booking, we saw several accommodations that are not too expensive. In short, if camping is not your thing, you should be able to find a place to stay quite easily.
Note: not surprisingly, hotels tends to be much less expensive in Saas Grund or Saas Almagell than in Saas Fee. We have seen that there is a B&B (the Haus Granit) which offers a night for 2 people from 69 CHF. It looks basic, but if the idea is to come to hike and take advantage of the cable cars to admire the 4000m, it does the job 😉
That’s it for today! We hope that this article will give you some ideas for this beautiful part of Switzerland! If you have other favorite hikes in the area, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment, it will give us ideas for the next time 😉
See you soon!
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