Hannig to Saas Fee (Gemsweg Part 1)

Distance: 4.0 miles (one way)

near Saas Fee in Valais

Introduction

View of the Allainhorn, Alphubel and the Fee Glacier from Hannig

This short, lovely hike features bird’s-eye views of the stunning glacial cirque surrounding Saas Fee and the peaks towering above the east side of the Saas Valley. Starting in Hannig, reach by a gondola from Saas Fee, the trail travels through meadows dotted with wildflowers, crosses glacial streams and then drops to a glacial lake below a pretty waterfall as it curves around the west and south slopes above Saas Fee.

Every step of the way is filled with delightful views. Numerous spots along the trail beckon hikers to take a break and soak in the scene. This is the perfect half day walk.

The trail, when combined with the hike from Plattjen trail, forms the Gemsweg, a trail essentially following a 180-degree arc around the lower slopes of the cirque surrounding the resort village. From the glacial lake the second half of the hike travels by waterfalls and crosses the Fee-Vispa River before climbing on steep grades through larches, low shrubs and then meadows to Plattjen, where a gondola descends to Saas Fee. Hikers are rewarded for their efforts with great views of the Mischabel Range and the Saas Fee glacial cirque.

Alternative, take the gondola to Hannig and start your day with a round-trip hike visiting two lofty overlook, Mellig and Gibidum, with stunning panoramic views. (See the Mellig, Gibidum and Bidergletscher hike for more information.) Upon returning to Hannig, take the Gemsweg to the glacier lake and then back to Saas Fee.

However you incorporate the trail into your itinerary, you will have a wonderful day.

Hannig to Saas Fee (Gemsweg Part 1)

Beautiful view of the Fee Glacier above the Glacier Gorge

Take the gondola to Hannigalp (7,677-ft/2,340-meters). (See directions below.) From overlooks near the lift station enjoy wonderful views of the 13,000-ft/4,000-meter peaks defining the glacial cirque surrounding Saas Fee. To the south the Fee Glacier clings to the flanks of the Allalinhorn and Alphubel while waterfalls, fed by glacial meltwater, gush down the mountainsides to the valley. The Taschhorn, Dom and Lenzspitze tower overhead. To the northeast the Fletschorn, Lagginhorn and Weissmies dominate the skyline above the Kreuzboden area.

When you are ready to start hiking find the trail signs behind the lift station. Walk southwest in the direction of the Gletschergrotte (1h 30 min) and Plattjen (3h 20min). The trail is also referred to as the Gemsweg or Weg von Saas Fee – the Saas Fee trail.

The trail descends on gentle grades, passing above Hannigalp’s restaurant and children’s play area. Near the play area you will come to the first of several signs along the trail explaining the history and geology of the Saas Fee area.

At 0.1 miles reach a trail junction. The path to the left (south) drops to Haldenwald and Saas Fee. Continue straight ahead in the direction of the Gletschergrotte and Plattjen, traveling through pretty meadows with splendid views to the glacial cirque towering above Saas Fee.

Follow the trail as it curves to the right (northwest) into a shallow side valley. Here views open the tongue of the Hohbalm Glacier, a hanging glacier spilling down the flanks of a cirque formed by Lenzspitze, the Nadelhorn and Ulrichshorn.

The trail now drops steeply and crosses a small stream. Beyond the stream the trail climbs gentle slopes heading south/southwest and soon crests a minor ridge at Spissem at 0.7 miles. Here a trail branches off to the right toward the Mischabel Hut. Continue on the main trail that curves right (west) as it drops into a gully and crosses a bridge over a gushing stream carrying meltwater from the Hohblam glacier. A use trail, branching to the right after the bridges, climbs steeply toward the Mischabel Hut. Continue along the main trail toward the Gletschergrotte.

Past the bridge the trail turns south and descends on moderately-steep grades before climbing slightly to crest a minor ridge at Trift (7,260-ft/2,213-meters) at 1.2 miles. From this vantage point enjoy nice views of the peaks towering above the east side of the Saas Valley including the Fletschorn, Lagginhorn and Weissmies. Views extend up the length of the Almageller Valley to the Portjenhorn. The Almagellhorn rises along the south side of the valley.

At Trift a path heads west, climbing very steep switchbacks toward the Mischabel Hut. We continue heading east/southeast toward the Gletschergrotte, dropping down a series of short, steep switchbacks, passing a few beautiful old larch trees along the way.

Reach a junction at 1.6 miles with a trail that continues descending the switchback toward Saas Fee. Our trail turns right (southwest) toward the Gletchergrotto, following a descending traverse on easy grades along a rugged hillside. To the south, glistening waterfalls fed by meltwater from the Fee Glacier cascade down the steep slopes beneath the Allalinhorn and Alphubel.

Cross the temporary bridge over a stream rushing down a cleft in the rocky cliffs above the trail at 1.9 miles. Beyond the crossing enjoy beautiful bird’s-eye views of Saas Fee.

At 2.1 miles the trail turns left (east) and travels through larch trees along the side of a moraine wall. Soon the trail swings to the right (south) and climbs to an overlook atop the moraine. Here the Alphubel, Taschhorn and the Fee Glacier form the backdrop for a waterfall, fed by glacial meltwater, cascading down a rugged gorge. Below, the Gletschergrotte lies nestle in a bowl beneath the cirque’s south wall.

The trail now descends along the crest of the moraine for a quarter mile. At 2.6 miles reach an intersection. Here you have a choice. The Weg von Saas Fee turns left (north) and drops down to the open pastures to the south Saas Fee. Broad walkways lead through the pasture back to the main street in Sass Fee at 3.7 miles. Another route heads southeast toward Spielboden and Langflue. I recommend turning right (west) toward the Gletschergrotte and Plattjen.

Follow the trail as it descends along the south face of the moraine wall to the floor of the gorge. Here the trail turns south and cross bridges over the stream and a tributary emanating from the waterfall. Beyond the second bridge reach a junction at 2.9 miles. Here you can either return to Saas Fee or continue the hike along the Gemsweg to Plattjen. For more information on Plattjen trail, see the hiking description for Plattjen to Saas Fee.

To return to Saas Fee, travel along the trail as it heads southeast, skirting the right (south) side of the settling ponds at the foot of the glacier gorge. Ignore signs pointing to the Gletschergrotto, Spielboden or Langflue. Instead walk in the direction of Saas Fee.

Cross a bridge over the outlet stream for the gorge at 3.1 miles. Past this point the trail descends on moderate grades, staying to the left of the stream. At 3.25 miles the trail curves to the left (northeast/north) around the base of a hill and heads toward the large open pastures to the south of Saas Fee. Arrive at the pastures at 3.7 miles. Here broad walkways lead northeast toward Saas Fee, reaching the edge of town at 4.0 miles.

For a longer, more challenging hike, combine this hike the reverse of the Plattjen / Saas Fee hike.

Hike Facts

  • Distance: 4.0 miles (one way)
  • Elevation: 7,684-ft. - 7,684-ft.
  • Elevation Gain: 0-ft. - 0-ft.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Basecamp(s): Saas Fee
  • Region: Valais

 

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile - Hannig to Saas Fee

 

 

Driving Directions

Walking directions in Saas Fee: This hike starts by taking the Hannig gondola. From the Saas Fee Bus Terminal at the Post Platz, head west/northwest on Obere Dorfstrasse to a “T” intersection. Turn right on Bielmattstrasse. Follow Bielmattstrasse for one block and turn left on Bielmattweg. (The Hotel Garni Domino Gabriel Bumann is at the corner.) Follow Bielmattweg to the “T” intersection and take a right on Hannigstrasse. Walk a little over 100-ft up the street to the Hannig gondola station. There are trail signs along the route directing you to the lift.

 

Trail Resources

Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
Saas Fee

Region Information:
Valais

Other Hiking Regions in:
Switzerland