Posted on 10 July 2021
If you’re as into hiking as you are skiing, choosing a ski resort can be about more than just the ski slopes. As Europe’s premier mountain range, the Alps are home to more than a few famous hiking routes. Many of these routes are centred around Chamonix and Mont Blanc, but not all of them. There are some pretty excellent hikes further afield too, including the famous Tour des Ecrins.
Many of these hikes are huge, multi-day undertakings so those without two weeks to spend hut-to-hut hiking can dip in and out. Most of the routes listed are set out in clear stages. It is, therefore, easy to head out for a day or two and just do a small segment of the overall hike. There are also plenty of smaller hiking trails that offer a few hours of hiking close to the comfort of home.
So, between Mont Blanc and the Swiss Alps, where are you going to find genuinely superb Alpine hikes?
The Walker’s Haute Route
A popular multi-day ski tour in winter, the Haute Route has a walker’s version too! Like the ski touring route, the Walker’s Haute Route stretches from Chamonix to Zermatt. As one of the midpoints is Verbier, you’ll be hiking through some of Switzerland’s premier ski resorts, across some of the most spectacular scenery in the Alps.
When you’re choosing a ski resort, you quickly work out which resorts are close to each other. Chamonix, Verbier and Zermatt are much closer together than they seem when you’re driving. The Haute Route will take you through valleys, across glaciers, and through fairytale villages. Anyone based in Verbier or Chamonix will easily be able to manage this epic two-week trek.
The Tour du Mont Blanc
Another hike focused around Europe’s tallest mountain, the TMB route takes between nine and eleven days to complete. The route is also the site of the world-famous Ultra-Trail to Mont Blanc marathon, which follows the entire hike, beginning and ending in Chamonix.
While the UTMB race takes an entire week, several shorter routes cover part of the trail rather than the whole thing. This means that it’s very easy to shorten the TMB. Whatever your hiking speed, the TMB is a great, adaptable hiking trail covering all the surrounding resorts. The trail threads through Italy, Switzerland, and France, through St Gervais and Courmayeur in Italy
If you’re thinking of buying in this area, it’s worth noting that the UTMB is incredibly popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts and Alpine tourists; you’re bound to see rental rates skyrocket. Chamonix and St Gervais are both abuzz each September during the week of UTMB.
Vanoise National Park / Gran Paradiso
The Vanoise National Park and Gran Paradiso National Park are neighbours across the Italian border. Although you can hike either park, or parts of either park, it’s worth putting them on the list together. Alpine resorts like Val d’Isere sit on the edge of the Vanoise National Park.
If you’re thinking of choosing a ski resort on the edge of the Vanoise National Park, you’re getting more than a few perks. Not only access to some great off-piste skiing but also superb hiking through kilometres of untouched countryside. The option to extend your trip into the Italian National Park across the border gives hikers even more room to explore stunning sights and hop from hut to hut.
As one of France’s most popular ski resorts, Val d’Isere is already a sought after destination for buyers hunting for the perfect ski property. The nearby Vanoise National Park adds an extra arrow to the resort’s already heavy quiver. A six-day guided hike across the Vanoise National Park is an experience you’ll never forget, while not being quite as extreme as the TMB or Haute Route.
Rhine Gorge Hike
The only hike that takes less than six days to complete, the Rhine Gorge hike is only around twenty kilometres. This means you can complete the whole thing in one or two days, enjoying the breathtaking scenery that makes up Switzerland’s Grand Canyon. If you’re choosing a ski resort with great, short hikes, buying in Flims will give you access to this unbelievably beautiful trek.
The Rhine Gorge hike is slightly shorter and lower altitude than others on this list. This means that it’s a good hike for all the family, and you won’t need to worry too much about the impact of altitude. As Flims is a popular winter and summer destination in German Switzerland, it’s always a good choice for buyers looking for Swiss property beyond those you’ll find in the Canton Valais.
The Rhine Gorge hike takes about eight hours in total, so you may decide that it’s best to wild camp for an evening, splitting the walk into two sections rather than do it in one day.
The Tour des Ecrins
This is a hike you’ll need to travel to, although it’s less than two hours from Alpe d’Huez. If you’re choosing a ski resort like Meribel or Val d’Isere though you’ll be looking at a three to four-hour drive to reach this spectacular two-week hiking trail. If you’re willing to go the extra mile though, you’ll find that the Tour des Ecrins is one of the highest and most popular hiking routes in Europe.
This hiking trail consistently makes it onto lists of the best hiking routes in the Alps, and it’s easy to see why. Les Ecrins National Park is the highest in France, and the hiking trail offers incredible views across the Southern French Alps. If you’re looking at buying a ski property in Alpe d’Huez the hiking route is easy to reach. Your dream ski chalet will be just around the corner, so you’ll know you’ve got a comfortable place to recover after you’re finished.
Wherever you’re thinking about buying a ski property, be it France or Switzerland, take a look at our selection of ski property. If you’ve got any questions about choosing a ski resort or a property, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts. After all, if you’re dreaming of owning a property in the Alps, we can help!