Findel Glacier Viewpoint

Distance: 5.4 - 8.3 miles (round trip)

near Zermatt in Valais

Introduction

View of the Findel glacier from the top of the moraine

This hike leads to a lovely overlook with captivating views of the Findel Glacier, a massive river of ice spilling west down the slopes Cima di Jazzi on the Swiss/Italian border between the Strahlhorn and Rimpfishhorn, to the north, and the Stockhorn, to the south. Terrific views of the iconic Matterhorn, standing apart on the horizon to the west, are your constant companion during much of the moderately-easy hike.

The day starts with a funicular ride to Sunnegga followed by scenic gondola whisking you to Blauherd. Here the hike heads east ascending through pretty meadows past the Stellisee, which perfectly reflects the Matterhorn on its mirror-like surface.

Before reaching the viewpoint climb up and walk along the knife-edge crest of the glacier’s moraine wall with great views of the Findel Glacier and the rugged trench dug by the receding river of ice. A final steep haul leads to a grassy knoll overlooking the huge icefield blanketing the Cima Di Jazzi and cascading in motionless waves down the flanks of the peaks to the valley floor. To the west the Matterhorn, Dent Blanche and Ober Gabelhorn massif dominate the skyline.

On a sunny day the overlook is a great spot for a picnic. Not many people travel this far up the valley so you are likely to experience a level of solitude not found at the other viewpoints around the Zermatt valley.

A good trail system allows hikers on the return journey the option of walking to Blauherd or Sunnegga to catch a lift back to Zermatt. Energetic parties looking for a longer day can follow one of several trails descending steeply through meadows and larch forests to Winkelmatten and Zermatt.

Findel Glacier Viewpoint

View of the Matterhorn from the trail

Distance from Trailhead: 2.7 miles (one way)

Ending/Highest Elevation: 9,217-ft.

Elevation Gain: 892-ft.

This hike starts from the top of the Blauherd Gondola station. Follow the directions (below) to the Sunnegga Funicular in Zermatt. If you intend to walk back to Zermatt get a one-way ticket from Zermatt to Blauherd. Otherwise purchase a ticket from Zermatt to Blauherd and a return ticket from Sunnegga to Zermatt. (Other options are available.)

Take the funicular to Sunnegga, a popular overlook with panoramic views of the Matterhorn, and then take the gondola to Blauherd (8,435-ft/2,571-meters). (Exit the funicular building and follow the signs to the Blauherd gondola.) The various lifts are timed to allow easy transfers without long waits.

At Blauherd enjoy great views of the Matterhorn to the southwest. Across the valley to the west a massive wall of 4,000-meter peaks, including the Ober Gabelhorn massif, the Wellenkuppe, the Zinalrothorn and the Weisshorn, fill the skyline. To the south the top of the Breithorn massif rises above the Gornergrat ridge.

After taking in the views find the signpost near the gondola station with markers pointing southeast to a broad track heading to the Stellisee and Fluealp. After walking about 0.1 miles watch for a trail branching left and climbing above the road. Follow the trail as it descends on gentle grades to the Stellisee. Soon nice views open to the east of the Findel Glacier pouring down the slopes of the Cima di Jazzi (12,477-ft/3,803-meter) between the Strahlhorn and Rimpfishhorn, to the north, and the Stockhorn, to the south.

Reach the west end of the Stellisee, a small lake famous with photographers for its wonderful views of the Matterhorn perfectly reflected on the lake’s clear waters, at 0.7 miles. Walk around the south side of the lake to a dirt road that leads east toward Flue and Fluealp.

Follow the road east on an easy ascending traverse. At 1.1 miles a trail, marked by a wood sign leaning against a rock, branches left from the road toward Fluealp. You can either stay on the road or take the trail through meadows and an old rock slide. (I personally prefer the trail.) In the distance you will see the Berghaus Flue at Fluhalp.

Ascend the rocky meadow on moderate grades toward Berghaus Flue. Be sure to turn around for nice views of the Matterhorn standing alone on the horizon and the Ober Gabelhorn massif rising above the Hohbalm plateau.

Cross a road at 1.3 miles and arrive at the Berghaus Flue (lodging and refreshments), at 1.4 miles. Follow the trail as it curves around the west side of the Berghaus to regain the road.

Turn left (east) and walk along the road for a short distance to an intersection. Here the road turns north toward the hotel. Turn right (south/southeast) on a trail that drops gentle across rocky meadows toward the moraine wall of the Findel Glacier. At 1.6 miles the trail joins a path paralleling the base of the wall. Turn left on the combined trail ascending east/northeast through lovely meadows between the grassy slopes of the moraine wall and the rugged cliffs beneath the Oberrothorn’s south face.

At 1.75 miles a use trail climbs to the top of the moraine wall, revealing the huge river of ice flowing from the Cima de Jazzi, a snow covered flat-toped peak on the Swiss – Italian border. The Adlerhorn and Strahlhorn tower above the glacier to the north.

The use trail now travels along the top of the moraine for 0.3 miles. (Hikers uncomfortable walking on the moraine should drop back down to the trail and continue walking northeast on the trail through the meadows.)

At 2.1 miles reach a section of the moraine wall that has collapsed, forcing the use trail to descend to the meadows. Here the main trail ascends gently up the slopes to the north of the moraine, passing two small ponds. Just beyond the second pond the path climbs steeply up the hillside to a grassy knoll at 2.7 miles with marvelous views of the Findel Glacier, a vast sea of ice pouring down the valley. The overlook features bird’s-eye view of the deep trench carved by the glacier and the knife edge wall of the moraine. In the distance, the majestic Matterhorn towers above the Zermatt valley.

On a sunny day this is a great spot for a picnic. Not very many people hike this far up the valley, so you are likely to have a level of solitude not found at many of the viewpoints around Zermatt.

Back to Blauherd, Sunnegga or Zermatt

The Ober Gabelhorn and the Wellenkuppe with  Dent Blanche is in the clouds.

Distance from Trailhead: 8.3 miles (round trip)

Ending/Highest Elevation: 9,217-ft.

Elevation Gain: -3,723-ft.

When you are ready to head back, either retrace your steps back to Blauherd, walk back to Sunnegga or hike all the way down to Zermatt. If time, energy and the weather permit, I recommend walking back to Zermatt.

To walk back to Zermatt, descend the steep hillside to the use trail climbing atop the moraine. Here you have a choice. Either follow the trail down the meadows beside the moraine, passing the turnoff to the Berghaus or climb back atop the moraine. If you climb the moraine you should be able to continue along the use trail for 0.6 miles before you are again forced to climb down to the meadow trail at 4.0 miles (1.3 miles from the knoll).

In the meadows continue along the trail as it head west, descending on moderate grades toward the Leisee, Winkelmatten and Zermatt. Ignore any trails branching to the right or left. At 5.9 miles the grade abates as it approaches the Leisee (7,320-ft/2,232-meters), a small lake just below Sunnegga. The lake, at 6.1 miles, is a popular spot for families and features a playground and barbeque area along with stunning views of the Matterhorn.

From the lake a trail climb a short distance up to Sunnegga where you can take the funicular back to Zermatt. Total hiking distance for this option is 6.3 miles.

Alternatively a number of walking paths descend steeply through meadows and larch forests to Winkelmatten and Zermatt, losing over 1,800-ft. in 2.2 miles, for an 8.3 mile hike. If are interested in stopping for refreshments on the hike down, take the path back to Zermatt that pass through Eggen and Findeln. Restaurants in both village feature sun terraces with pretty views of the Matterhorn.

Hike Facts

  • Distance: 5.4 - 8.3 miles (round trip)
  • Elevation: 8,457-ft. - 9,217-ft.
  • Elevation Gain: 892-ft.
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Basecamp(s): Zermatt
  • Region: Valais

 

Elevation Profile

Elevation Profile Findel Glacier Overlook

 

 

Driving Directions

Walking directions from the Zermatt Train Station to the Sunnegga Funicular: Directly across from the Zermatt train station is the station for the Gornergrat Cog Railway. The first street to the south of the Gornergrat Station is Getwingstrasse (Getwing Street), which runs east. Find Getwingstrasse and walk east along the street for 0.2 miles (300-meters). The street will curve around to the south and cross the river.

Turn left (east/northeast) on Rechte Uferstrasse, the first street you come to after crossing the river. Walk about 0.1 miles, following the street as it curves to the north along the Vispa River. Along the way the street changes its name and becomes Vispastrasse. The Sunnegga Funicular Station is on the right side of the road at Vispastrasse 34.

After obtaining funicular tickets walk through a long underground tunnel to get to the base of the funicular. The schedule for the funicular is found on the Matterhorn Paradise time table page. Select the Sunnegga – Rothorn option.

Note: At the top of the funicular you take the gondola to Blauherd. You can buy round-trip tickets for a variety of ride combinations. For example you can purchase tickets from Zermatt to Blauherd going up and from Sunnegga to Zermatt going down if you do not wish to walk back to Zermatt.

 

Trail Resources

Trail Photo Gallery / Trail Map

Basecamp(s) Information:
Zermatt

Region Information:
Valais

Other Hiking Regions in:
Switzerland