This beautiful hike, my favorite in the Swiss National Park, ascends Val Minger to the beautiful meadows of Alp Minger with panoramic views of Piz Minger to the northwest, Piz Foraz to the south and Piz Plavna Dadaint rising beyond the pass of Sur il Foss to the west. From the alp the trail climbs to Sur il Foss, a saddle on the ridge between Piz Minger and Piz Foraz, and then follows an ascending traverse along the scenic ridge with magnificent 360-degree views of the peaks ringing the Plavna and Minger valleys along with the Sesvenna Lischana range to the east and the wall of peaks rising above the Inn (En) River valley to the north.
From the pass the trail drops down to the bucolic meadows of Alp Plavna and then descends Val Plavna’s large flood plain lined with rugged peaks. The final leg of the hike drops through meadows and forests to Tarasp, with intermittent views of the high peaks rising above Ftan and Scuol.
From the Trailhead to Sur il Foss
Distance from Trailhead: 6.8 miles (round trip)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 7,664-ft.
Elevation Gain: 2,236-ft.
From the train station at Scuol, take the bus headed for S-charl and get off at the Val Minger (Mingerbrucke) stop. (See directions below.) The bus stop is located near the parking lot for a small concrete dam and water intake on the Clemgia River.
Cross the dam to the west side of the river and then follow the trail as it climbs southwest on gentle to moderate grades through a forest of larch and pine trees. Soon the trail passes through a small meadow containing the ruins of an old stable at 0.3 miles. From the meadow enjoy a tantalizing glimpse of the scenery to come before plunging back into the woods.
Our trail soon leads to the stream draining Val Minger, which will be our constant companion along the initial segment of our uphill trek. As the trees thin the trail passes the confluence of the Val Foraz, a side valley branching to the south at 0.8 miles. Interesting rock formations, caused by erosion of the glacial gravel walls of the canyon, are found near the confluence. One of the formations looks like the head of a raven and another is said to look like the head of a witch.
A short distance past the rock formations views open the rugged ridges and craggy slopes of the peaks flanking Val Minger valley. Turn around for distant views of the peaks of the Sesvenna Lischana range rising along the east side of the S-charl valley, including Piz Madlain, Piz San Jon Dodona and Piz San Jon d’Immez.
The trail now ascends at a steady moderate pace, crossing the rocky stream four times over the next 1.25 miles. The trail and steam crossings are marked by red and white stakes. Typically the stream contains little or no water so the crossings should not present any problems.
As the trees thin views open to Piz Foraz rising along the south side of the valley. The triangular top of Piz Plavna Dadaint is seen above the trees to the west. As you climb, keep an eye out for red deer and chamoix on the slopes of Piz Minger, looming above the trail to the north.
At 2.2 miles the trees give way to the beautiful open meadows of Alp Minger. Reach the official park rest stop (7,115-ft/2,168-meters), with stunning 360-degree views, at 2.5 miles. Piz Minger towers above the valley to the north while Piz Forza and its craggy ridges dominate the view to the south. To the west, the pyramid-shaped Piz Plavna Dadaint rises beyond the pass of Sur il Foss, the saddle on the ridge between Piz Minger and Piz Foraz at the head of the valley. To the east, the peaks soaring above the east side of the S-charl valley fill the skyline. This is another good spot to look for red deer and chamoix.
Posts, painted yellow, outline the border of the rest area equipped with benches and tables. This is the only place in the valley where hikers are allowed to eat. My recommendation is not to eat lunch here. Instead enjoy the views and then continue to the pass, which is outside the national park. At the pass you can sit anywhere you like.
When you are ready to continue, follow the path as it heads west, ascending through low-lying shrubs on easy grades. Soon the trail curves to the northwest, climbing through pretty meadows with great views of the peaks surrounding the valley. At 3.0 miles the grade steepens and the path curves to the west, ascending a grassy gully along the left (south) side of a stream.
Reach the pass of Sur il Foss (7,602-ft/2317-meters) at 3.4 miles. The pass, which is outside the park, is situated on a broad, grassy saddle with splendid views of Piz Plavna Dadaint directly across the valley. Below is the Val Plavna, a beautiful long valley. To the east, the Sesvenna Lischana range dominates the view.
At this point you have three choices. You can either turn around and retrace your steps for a 6.8 mile round trip hike, walk to Tarasp via the Val Plavna (3hr) or climb to the pass at Fuorcla Val dal Botsch (1hr 45 min) and then descend to Il Fuorn (3 hrs). I recommend walking to Tarasp via the Val Plavna. The Fuorcla Val da Botsch extension is quite strenuous and very steep. (See below for more information on this option.)
From Sur il Foss to Tarasp (Complete the Hike)
Distance from Trailhead: 10.4 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 4,616-ft.
Elevation Gain: -3,408-ft.
To walk back to Tarasp from Sur il Foss, turn left (south) toward Val Plavna and Fuorcla Val dal Botsch. The wide track travels along the top of the ridge with fine views of Piz Plavna Dadaint massif and the glacial cirque ringing the head of Val Plavna. Distant views extend north to the peaks rising above the Inn (En) River valley.
Reach a junction at 3.8 miles and turn right on the trail descending toward Alp Plavna and Tarasp-Fontana. The trail straight ahead leads to Fuorcla Val dal Botsch to Il Fuorn. If you look carefully, you can see the trail to the right of the head of the valley climbing very steeply up scree-covered slopes to Fuorcla Val dal Botsch, a saddle in the ridge between Piz Murters and Piz dal Botsch.
Our trail drops down steep switchbacks and then turns northeast, descending through rocky meadows and then trees on steep to moderately steep grades to Alp Plavna (6,811-ft/2,076-meters) at 4.8 miles. Piz Plavna Dadaint towers above the idyllic little alp along the west side of the valley.
At the alp the trail joins a jeep road that descends pretty pasture sprinkled with wildflower toward Tarasp. Along the way enjoy great views of the craggy peaks lining both sides of the valley. Ahead, the peaks forming the northern wall of the Inn River valley fill the skyline.
Soon the trail curves to the north, descending on moderate grades along the right (east) side of the Aua da Plavna, the river draining the Plavna Valley. Beyond the alp the meadows give way to trees.
At 5.2 miles the grade eases as the trail travels down valley on a seldom used road through a massive flood plain covered in small white rocks. It appears that at times during the spring melt the stream bed widens to engulf the entire valley floor. Avalanche chutes scar the flanks of the rugged peaks lining both sides of the valley, creating wide talus aprons at the base of the peaks. It is amazing to think about the forces of water and ice that have created this landscape.
At 5.6 miles the road crosses a bridge to the west side of the river and then continues descending on easy grades along the rocky valley floor. At 6.6 miles the flood plain ends and the grade steepens as the trail drops through forest and meadows. From the meadows enjoy nice views of the peaks rising to the north of Ftan and Scuol.
At 7.3 miles the road crosses a stream and reaches a trail junction. The road branches to the left toward Alp Laisch, Plaz and Ardez. We take the trail branching right and drops steeply down meadows toward Resgia Plavna and Tarasp-Fontana. Soon the valley narrows and the trail descends steep to moderately-steep grades through meadows and trees along the left (west) side of the rushing river. At 7.9 miles the trail turns into a dirt road.
Reach Resgia Plavna (1565-meters) and a junction at 8.7 mile. Continue straight ahead on the dirt road toward Tarasp (40 min), passing a small building with a picnic table and wood carvings of elves. Soon the road crosses a bridge to the east side of the river.
Beyond the bridge the grade abates as the trail descending through trees. Opening in the forest offer views of Ftan, nestled in meadows on a bench along the north side of the Inn River valley. Pass three more junctions, at each follow the broad track headed toward Tarasp-Fontana.
At 9.6 miles the grade steepens as the trail curves northeast and drops down to Tarasp. As you reach the town the track turns to pavement, leading to the center of the village where the Schoss (Castle) Tarasp is perched on a high promontory above the town. The bus stop in Tarasp (4,616-ft/1,406-meters) is located near a peach colored building, the former Hotel Tarasp, 10.4 miles from the start of the hike. Before getting on the bus back to Scuol enjoy the views of Piz Lischana rising to the southeast, which forms the perfect backdrop for the town’s picturesque little lake.
Fuorcla Val da Botsch to Il Fuorn (Ofen Pass)
Distance from Trailhead: 9.0 miles (one way)
Ending/Highest Elevation: 8,782-ft.
Elevation Gain: 3,430-ft.
Note: The hike over the Fuorcla Val da Botsch is quite strenuous and includes steep ascents and descents.
To continue the hike over Fuorcla Val da Botsch to Il Fuorn from Sur il Foss, turn left (south) toward Val Plavna and Fuorcla Val dal Botsch. The wide track travels along the top of the ridge with fine views of Piz Plavna Dadaint massif and the glacial cirque ringing the head of Val Plavna. Distant views extend north to the peaks rising to the north of the Inn River valley.
Reach a junction at 3.8 miles. The trail to the right drops steeply to Alp Plavna and Tarasp Fontana. We continue straight ahead (southeast) toward Fuorcla Val dal Botsch to Il Fuorn. If you look carefully, you can see the trail to the right of the head of the valley climbing steeply up scree-covered slopes to Fuorcla Val dal Botsch, a saddle in the ridge between Piz Murters and Piz dal Botsch.
The trail now descends gently toward the head of the Val Plavna, crossing a stream at 4.6 miles. Beyond the stream the trail turns southwest, ascending through rocky meadows and then climbing very steeply up scree covered slopes to the pass at 5.5 miles, gaining over 1,200-ft in less than a mile.
Fuorcla Val da Botsch (8,782-ft/2,677-meters) enjoys magnificent views of the sea of peaks to the east, including the distant Bernina Alps. Nearer at hand are great views of the cirque at the head of the Val Plavna the Piz Plavna Dadaint. To the northeast Piz Minger and the Sesvenna Lischana range dominate the view beyond Sur il Foss. To the north view extends to the peaks towering above the Inn River valley and Scuol.
From Fuorcla Val da Botsch, a knee crunching trail descends on steep grades to Il Forun/Ofen Pass (5,886-ft/1,794-meter), losing over 2,800-ft. in 3.5 miles. The last 0.7 miles of the hike travels along the road to the bus stop. Total hiking distance is 9.0 miles.
To return to Scoul, catch the bus to Zernez and then take the train from Zernez to Scuol. The trip back to Scuol takes 1 hour and 24 minutes.
From Scuol to Val Minger Trailhead: From the train station in Scuol, take the #913 bus headed toward S-charl and get off at the Val Minger (Mingerbrucke) stop. The bus makes several stops in Scuol between the trail station and Val Minger. Visit the SBB Website or download the app to find the stop nearest your accommodations. The ride takes about 26 minutes.
If you are staying in another part of the valley, take the train or the postbus to Scuol and then catch the postbus to Val Minger. Note: This is a very popular route. Get an early start and if possible purchase your tickets the night before the hike.
From Tarasp to Scuol: From the Fontana bus stop in Tarasp (near a peach colored building, the former Hotel Tarasp, and across from the small lake), take the #923 bus toward Sent, Sur En and get off at the Scuol train station. The ride takes 11 minutes.
The bus makes several stops in Scuol. Consult the SBB Website or download the app to find the stop nearest your accommodations.
Other Hiking Regions in: