Posted on 20 August 2022
Ah, September and an Autumn beginning. The perfect season for hiking in the Alps. As Europe’s premier mountain destination, the Alps feature many famous hiking routes. Some routes centre around Chamonix and Mont Blanc, but not all. There are excellent hikes further afield, too, including the famous Tour des Ecrins. Many hikes are massive, multi-day undertakings, so those without two weeks to spend hut-to-hut hiking can dip in and out. Most routes set out clear stages. So head out hiking for the day or complete segments when you have time. In contrast, plenty of smaller trails take a short time. So, where are the genuinely amazing Alpine hikes between Mont Blanc and the Swiss Alps?
Guide to Hiking in the Alps
About the Alps in General
The Alps are Europe’s highest and most extensive mountains that cover seven Alpine countries, including France, Switzerland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, and Slovenia. Mont Blanc, at 4,809 metres, is the highest Alp Mountain, although there are 128 other peaks. The strong cultural identity in the alps includes wood making, cheesemaking, and farming. However, about 14 million people live in the Alps, and 120 million visit annually to enjoy winter skiing and hiking from Spring to Autumn. Two prominent parts for hikers to explore are France and Switzerland.
Walk the French Alps
These Alps is the mountain region in Rhône – Alpes and Provence – Alpes – Côte d’ Azur. The total area is 210,00km2, and its borders are Switzerland and Italy. The lavish resorts of Chamonix, Chambéry, and Grenoble are within this area. The magnificent Mont Blanc Massif is shared with Switzerland and Italy at 4,808m (15,774ft). Mont Blanc is on the Italian border and is the highest Alp mountain and highest Western European Mountain. There are numerous connected ski areas here like Les Trois Valley, Portes du Soleil, Paradiski, Évasion Mont-Blanc and Espace Killy. The two airports close to the Alps are Chambéry Savoie Airport; however, most hikers fly into Geneva. There is an excellent range of Alpine summer activities alongside the option of skiing and year-round hiking. Numerous activities in the summer months keep you active, like mountaineering and rock climbing.
- The Best National Parks in France
- Things to do in the French Alps besides skiing.
- Winter activities in Alps of France
Walk the Swiss Alps
The Alpine mountains in Switzerland, along with the Swiss Plateau and the Swiss portion of the Jura Mountains, are one of three beautiful locations in Switzerland for the best hiking and trips. The Alps extend west and east. While the northern Bernese Alps to the Appenzell Alps are entirely in Switzerland, the southern locations like Mont Blanc are shared with other countries such as France, Italy, Austria and Liechtenstein. These are the highest mountains of the Alps, like the Matterhorn.
Guided Walks and Routes
The Alps have many good hiking places to start, but if you are a first-time hiker, you might want to consider a guide. The vast wealth of travel information we got from our first guided hike made our trip. The Alp guide was also invested in our safety and abilities; hence we found the hike to be an enjoyable start, walk and adventure.
Trekking the Walker’s Haute Route
This popular multi-day ski tour has the hikers version too! Like the ski touring route, the Walker’s Route starts from Chamonix to Zermatt. As Verbier is a midpoint, you will hike through some of Switzerland’s premier ski resorts across spectacular Alpine scenery. Chamonix, Verbier and Zermatt are much closer together than they seem when driving. The Haute Route takes hikers through valleys, glaciers, and fairytale Alp villages. Anyone based in Verbier or Chamonix can easily manage this epic two-week hiking trek. This alpine area features many well-known resorts, so access to this hiking route is easy.
Tour du Mont Blanc
Another hike focused around Europe’s tallest mountain, the TMB hiking route, takes between nine and eleven days to complete. The course is also follows the world-famous Ultra-Trail to Mont Blanc marathon, which follows the entire hike, beginning and ending in Chamonix town. While the UTMB race takes 7 days, several shorter walks cover part of the trail rather than hiking the whole thing. This means hikers can shorten the TMB, and start wherever. Whatever your hiking speed, this adaptable hiking trail covers surrounding resorts through Italy, Switzerland, France, and St Gervais and Courmayeur in Italy. UTMB is incredibly popular amongst outdoor enthusiasts and Alpine tourists, so rental rates skyrocket. Chamonix and St Gervais come alive each September during UTMB.
Trekking Vanoise National Park / Gran Paradiso
Beautiful Vanoise and the Gran Paradiso are neighbours across the Italian border. Although you can hike either section, both are worth it. Alpine resorts like Val d’Isere sit near Vanoise and are a good starting point. If you choose somewhere near Vanoise, expect many hiking perks through miles of untouched countryside. Otherwise, extending your trip into the Italian National Park across the border means hikers can explore stunning sights and hike from hut to hut. As one of France’s most popular ski resorts, Val d’Isere is already sought after to start and stay. A six-day guided hike across Vanoise is an unforgettable experience while not being quite as extreme a walk as the TMB or Haute Route.
The Rhine Gorge Hike Alpine Experience
The only hike that takes less than six days, the Rhine Gorge hike is only around twenty kilometres. So complete it in one or two days, enjoying the best scenery that makes up Switzerland’s Grand Canyon. Rhine Gorge hike is slightly shorter and lower altitude than others walks on this list. This means family fun without altitude impact of peaks. As Flims village is popular in summer, it’s always popular for buyers looking for Swiss property beyond Canton Valais. Rhine Gorge hike takes about eight hours so consider camping overnight to split the hike into two days instead of one.
Discover the Tour des Ecrins Trek
This Alp hike is less than two hours from Alpe d’Huez. If you choose Meribel or Val d’Isere, look at three to four-hour drives to reach this best 14 day trail. If hikers are willing to trek the extra mile, Tour des Ecrins is a high and popular hiking route in Europe. This trail consistently features on lists of the best hiking routes in the Alps, and it’s easy to see why. Les Ecrins is the highest in France, and the trail offers incredible views across the Southern Alps. When staying in Alpe d’Huez, this hiking route is easy to reach. Your Alpine chalet will be just around the corner to relax after hiking.
Tips to Prepare for Alpine Hiking
Hiking Ascents and Descents: Remember they take longer and the temperature changes the higher up the Alps you go. Consider this carefully when planning your trek route. Most routes in the Alps are graded according to their difficulty, which should give more indication. The plus point is that most Alp trails are also well signposted.
Hiking Equipment: Most Alps trails are demanding; hence think about the equipment and gear you will need and use. This will depend on the time of year because sometimes you won’t need an ice pick. Always pack a windproof and waterproof coat and good hiking boots that support your ankles.
Alpine Tour Transport: Undoubtedly, the best views in the Alps are on high mountain peaks. But don’t be put off if your hiking experience in the Alps is limited as some resorts operate tour cable cars or tramways.
Getting There and Back: For day hikes, hire a car since you will return to the same destination. However, for longer Alp hikes, research bus, tour and train transport to get there and back. In some resorts of the Alps, transportation may not be frequent.
Food and Hotel Accommodation: Most Alp trails feature huts giving accommodation, food, and drinks. Do a Google search before leaving to find out where. However, do pack your supplies. Don’t forget water.
Safety First: Common hazards in the Alps include avalanches, and slips. Check trail and weather forecasts before hiking. Do not head for the rugged trails unless experienced. Always let someone know the track, the way it takes, and the expected times to return.
Places in Switzerland: The best charm about the Alps in Switzerland is living amongst the beautiful scenery. Potential buyers of Swiss Alpine property can enjoy the great natural beauty, of the mountain range and lakes anytime they want! Sure, it might not all be on your doorstep. But whether you’re looking at buying in Verbier or Flims there are some amazing things to see in Switzerland. Check out our favourite sites in a country filled with great architecture and postcard-pretty destinations.
French Alps Guide: Annually, millions of people visit the Alps regions of Europe. With the tallest mountain at 4,808 metres, the Alps command fame among ski enthusiasts. Yet, the alps have become about much more. The alps transformed themselves into 12-month money-making trade. This impacted tourism and local real estate markets. Mountain Alps ranges are now great to live and holiday there. So, what are the reasons to visit, and prominent locations.
About Us: We are Skiing Property, an Alps expert. Our team’s local knowledge have enabled hundreds of buyers to own an alpine home and enjoy hiking in the alps whenever they want. If you are interested in owning alpine real estate, see our portfolio of apartments and chalets here, or contact us to discuss more local real estate markets of the Alps.