Plattjen to Saas Fee (Gemsweg Part 2)

Distance: 3.9 miles (one way)

near Saas Fee in Valais

Introduction

Terrific view of the 4,000-meter peaks rising to the west of Saas Fee

This short hike offers terrific views of the 4,000-meter (13,000-ft.) peaks of the Mischabel Range, the Hohlbalm and Fee Glaciers and the Saas Valley. Starting in Plattjen, reach by a gondola from Saas Fee, the trail drops down rocky meadows and then travels through low-lying shrubs and larch forests as it curves around the east and south slopes above Saas Fee.

Great views accompany almost every step of the hike. It is a splendid half day hike, which can be extended when combined with the reverse of the hike from Hannig to Saas Fee. The combined hike, called the Gemsweg, essentially follows a 180-degree arc around the lower slopes of the cirque surrounding the resort village.

The second half of the hike to Hannig travels by a glacial lake fed by a beautiful waterfall, climbs a moraine wall and then follows an ascending traverse through pretty meadows along the steep slopes above the west side of Saas Fee. Along the way the trail enjoys bird’s-eye views of the stunning glacial cirque surrounding Saas Fee and the peaks rising along the east side of the Saas Valley. At Hannig a gondola descends to Sass Fee. For more information see the Hannig to Saas Fee hike.

Weather you just take the trail from Plattjen to Saas Fee or combine the hike with the Hannig trail you are guaranteed to have a great walk.

Plattjen to Saas Fee

The 4,000-meter peaks are a great backdrop for the trail descending through pretty meadows

Take the gondola from Saas Fee to Plattjen. Upon exiting the lift walk behind the restaurant, heading southeast on a track that ascends a short distance to an overlook with wonderful panoramic views. Looking west from the overlook a wall of 4,000-meter (13,000-ft.) peaks along the Mischabel Range, including the Tashhorn, Dom and Lenzspitz, dominate the view. To the east the peaks rising along the Saastal (Saas Valley) fill the skyline. To the north views extend up the Saas Valley to the distinctively shaped Bietschhorn (the triangular peak) and nearby summits of the Bernese Alps.

To start the hike, return to the sign post behind the lift station. Here the Gemsweg heads west in the direction of the Plattjen Berhaus (20min), Gletschgrotte (1h 15min), Hannig (3h 5min) and Saas Fee (1h 30min). Soon the trail turns northeast and descends through rocky meadows on a series of moderately-steep switchbacks with terrific views of the Mischabel Range. After walking about 0.4 miles take a detour to the ridge to the right (east) of the trail for stunning views of the Saastal.

Reach the Plattjen Berghaus and the Restaurant V at 0.7 miles. Beyond the Berghaus, the trail descends a series of tight, steep switchbacks that end at 0.9 miles. From this vantage point enjoy lovely views of Saas Fee and the Saastal Valley.

The trail now curves to the left (west/southwest) and reaches a trail junction at 1.1 miles. Ignore the broad track to the right which makes a “U” turn and drops down to Saas Almagell. A short distance beyond pass a trail branching right (northwest) that descends steep switchbacks to Saas Fee. We continue heading southwest, passing to the right of a small cement building with signs pointing straight ahead toward the Gemsweg (Gletshergrotte, Thrift and Hannig).

Follow the trail on a descending traverse on moderate grades through pretty meadows sprinkled with wildflowers. Along the way enjoy fine views of the peaks and the glaciers towering over the west side of Saas Fee and the Saas Valley to the north. Below are good bird’s-eye views of Saas Fee.

Soon the meadows give way to low lying shrubs and scattered larches. At 1.6 miles the path starts dropping down a series of steep switchbacks beneath sheer rock slopes, passing a few pretty waterfalls. Fixed ropes along sections of the trail provide a level of security on steep sections that could be problematic if wet or covered with ice. As you descend, pass a trail junction where you continue on the Gemsweg.

The grade abates as the path enters a larch forest at 2.1 miles. The easy walking is short lived. Soon the trail drops steeply down a wooded hillside and curves to the right (northwest) as it crosses a bridge over a raging torrent of meltwater from the Fee Glacier. On the other side of the bridge the trail ascends a forested hillside, crosses a ski run and then reenters the trees, traveling through an undulating landscape.

Cross a bridge over another stream at 2.7 miles. Beyond the second bridge the trail reaches an area where several gravel roads converge. These roads are used by mountain bikes and are best avoided when possible. My advice is to travel along the road heading toward the Café Gletschergrotte for a short distance. Before arriving at the café reach a junction where you turn right on a trail toward Saas Fee (35min).

There are now several routes heading back to Saas Fee. The best option is to watch for a trail turning left that drops down to the glacial lake (holding ponds). Reach at “T” intersection near the lake and turn right, following the trail as it cross the outlet stream for the lake and then travels around the base of a small hill to the pastures to the south of Saas Fee. Broad walkways then lead back the main street in Saas Fee at 3.9 miles.

If you miss the turn for the trail heading down to the lake, the trail you are on soon rejoins the road where it crosses the stream. Follow the road as it drops down to the pastures to the south of Saas Fee. Here broad walkways head northeast toward the town, meeting the main street at 3.9 miles.

For a longer, more challenging hike, combine this hike with the reverse of the Hannig / Saas Fee hike. To continue the hike to Hannig, follow the signs near the Café Gletschergrotto pointing toward the Hannig along the Gemsweg trail.

Hike Facts

  • Distance: 3.9 miles (one way)
  • Elevation: 8,447-ft. - 8,447-ft.
  • Elevation Gain: 0-ft. - 0-ft.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Basecamp(s): Saas Fee
  • Region: Valais

 

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile for Plattjen to Saas Fee Hike

 

 

Driving Directions

From the Saas Fee Bus Terminal: Walk southwest along the Postplatz, past the Post Office. Take Stadelweg, the street heading southwest that drops steeply down the hill, passing some old wood building along the way. Signs point to the Alpin Express and the gondola to Plattjen.

At the “Y” intersection, take Panoramastrasse (Panorama Street), the road branching to the left (south). Follow the road as it crosses the bridge over the Fee-Vispa River and then curves to the southwest, skirting the west side of the Alpin Express Station.

Beyond the lift, the road joins with Mischiweg Strasse, which dead ends at Gletscherstrass (Glacier Street). Turn left on Gletscherstrasse and travel along the road a short distance to the Plattjen lift Station. Sign along the way, pointing to the Plattjen lift, should keep you on track.

 

Trail Resources

Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
Saas Fee

Region Information:
Valais

Other Hiking Regions in:
Switzerland