Zmutt (6,352-ft/1,936-meters), a tiny 500-year old hamlet southwest of Zermatt, is a photogenic spot with traditional wood house set amid pretty meadows. It is a favorite lunch destination for tourist looking for an easy, scenic walk. Several paths lead to the village. Most people walk along the low route that heads south on Zermatt’s main street, Bahnhoffstrasse, along the left (west) side of the Zmutt River.
A more scenic and energetic alternative is the high route to Zmutt, which travels through beautiful meadows, passes the hamlets of Herbrigg and Hubel and offers good views of the Matterhorn, the Breithorn, the highest peak in the Mischabel range – the Taschhorn and Dom and the summits rising above the Findel Glacier.
Most people complete the loop by returning to Zermatt via the popular low path. Hikers looking for more solitude on the return journey can take slightly longer and a little more difficult mid-level path that travels above the low route.
The Zmutt Loop hike offers a good workout and is a nice way to acclimatize if you just arrived in Switzerland. It is a good option for families or parties looking for a half day outing before catching a train. It is also a good option for days with less than optimal weather or when the high country is shrouded in clouds.
Zmutt Loop Hike
This description of the Zmutt Loop trail assumes hikers walk in a counter-clockwise direction taking the high path to Zmutt and returning via the low or mid-level path. From the Bahnhoff (train station) in Zermatt, walk south from the Bahnhoff along Bahnhoffstrasse (the main street) for 0.4 miles. Past the Matterhorn Museum and a church the road curves to the right. The first street to the right after the curve is Schalpmattgasse. Bear right (west) onto Schalpmattgasse in the direction of Hubel, Alterhaupt and Chalbermatten. Ignore the other signs at the intersection point straight ahead (south) to Zmutt that direct hikers to the low route. (See Directions below for more information.)
Walk up Schalpmattgasse for 0.1 miles and turn right (north) on the alleyway signed for Hubel and Zmutt. The turn is between an old wood granary (on a cement base) and the Chalet Talina. Soon the paved road turns into a trail, ascending on steep grades through pastures.
Reach a junction at 0.8 miles and turn left (southwest) in the direction of Hubel and Zmutt. The path now climbs the grassy hillside, passing through a small grove of larch trees, to Herbrigg (5,758-ft/1,755-meters) at 1.0 mile. The small hamlet, with its traditional Walser-style wood home and barns/granaries, enjoys nice views of the high peaks of the Mischabel Range to the northeast along with a bird’s-eye views of Zermatt. The top of the Matterhorn peeks above the hillside to the southwest.
At the junction in the middle of Herbrigg, take the trail branching right (west) toward Hubel and Zmutt. The trail bearing left will be our return route. Beyond Herbrigg the track ascends steep grassy slopes sprinkled with wildflowers and larches. As you climb, the Breithorn and the Klein Matterhorn, a distinctively shaped knob, appear above the hillside across the valley.
Pass a collection of old stone buildings at 1.3 miles and reach Hubel (6,385-ft/1,946-meters), a scattered collection of old wood and stone structures, at 1.5 miles. Here a signed trail heads right (north), climbing toward Alterhaupt and Trift. We continue straight ahead to Zmutt.
Follow the trail on an ascending traverse on moderate grades along a beautiful meadow-clad bench beneath the steep walls of the Hohbalm plateau. The distinctively-shaped Matterhorn, partially hidden by the steep grassy slopes, rises to the southwest. Nice views extend east up the Findel Valley toward the Strahlhorn and Rimpfishhorn. Nearer at hand, small shrubs, wildflowers and scattered larches add interest to the walk.
At 1.7 miles reach a “Y” intersection. Here a trail branching to the left descends to Zmutt in 0.75 miles. This is the traditional high route to Zmutt. If time and energy permit, I suggest taking the trail branching to the right, the continuation of the walk along the high bench. This option adds 0.9 miles and 370-ft. in elevation gain to the hike but the extra effort is well rewarded with great views.
The extended walk, continue ascending along the bench. As you climb enjoy ever improving views of the Matterhorn, the Findel Glacier area (to the east), the Breithorn and Klein Matterhorn (to the southeast) and the Mischabel Range (behind you).
At 2.1 miles the trail curves to the west revealing the peaks and glaciers at the head of the Zmutt Valley. The full extent of the Matterhorn’s east and north face, along with the Matterhorn glacier, are now in view.
Reach the high point of the hike (6,970-ft/ 2,124-meters) at 2.2 miles. Here hikers have a bird’s-eye view of Zmutt, 600-ft. below. Across the valley the majestic Matterhorn dominates the view. To the southeast Monte Rosa, Lyskamm and the Breithorn rise above the Gorner Valley. The Strahlhorn, Rimpfishhorn and Findel Glacier fill the horizon to the east. Above you steep meadows lead to the towering south wall of the Hohbalm.
The meadows around the high point are a great place to take a break and enjoy the wonderful views. When you finally pull yourself away, follow the trail as it descends from the bench on moderate grades toward the Zmutt Dam. The arch dam, finished in 1964, stores water from the Zmutt Glacier and is part of the Grande Dixence hydroelectric project.
Reach the signed junction below the dam at 2.75 miles and turn left (southeast) toward Zmutt. The pleasant walk to the small hamlet travels through pastures on moderate to easy grades. At 3.0 miles the grade steepens as the trail drops down to Zmutt.
Reach the tiny hamlet of Zmutt (6,350-ft/1,936-meter) at 3.1 miles. The trail passes through a cluster of restaurants, typically packed with people, and turns left (southeast) toward Zermatt.
Beyond Zmutt a broad track, popular with tourists, returns to Zermatt via the Zmutt low route (see directions below) in 2.4 miles. Hikers looking for more solitude on the return journey can take a slightly longer trail (2.7 miles) that travels above the main track on a “mid-level” route.
To reach the mid-level route back to Zermatt follow the broad track down from Zmutt for 0.2 miles (3.3 miles from the start) to a signed junction amid a few buildings. Here signs point straight ahead toward Zum See, Blatten and Zermatt. We turn left (north) on an alternate route also signed for Zermatt.
Follow the trail along the east side of the building to a “Y” intersection. Take the trail branching to the right (northeast). Walk a very short distance on the trail to a second “Y” intersection. The trail to the left climbs to Hubel and the high route. Our trail branches to the right (east) toward Zermatt Kirche (Church) and Zermatt Bahnhoff.
Initially the trail travels through meadows and a small cluster of houses with nice views of the Overrothorn, Strahlhorn and Rimpfishhorn. Not far beyond the houses the trail enters the trees and at 3.8 miles starts a steep descending traverse along a forested hillside. At 4.3 miles the trees give way to steep meadows with views of the Oberrothorn and the high peaks of the Mischabel range.
The steep descent ends at 4.5 miles. The trail now climbs a short distance on moderate grades before crossing a grassy bowl to Herbrigg at 4.8 miles. From Herbrigg, retrace your steps back to Zermatt. Remember to turn right at 5.0 miles where signs point downhill toward Zermatt.
Reach Schalpmattgasse at 5.2 miles and turn left (east), walking a short distance to Oberdorfstrasse where you turn left (northeast) again. The street soon passes the church where the street name changes to Bahnhoffstrasse. Reach the train station at 5.8 miles.
From the Zermatt Bahnhoff (Train Station): Walk south/southwest on Bahnhoffstrasse, the town’s main street, for 0.4 miles and then bear right onto Schalpmattgasse. As you walk down the main street you will pass the Matterhorn Museum and the Pfarrkirche St. Mauritius (church) on the left. Just beyond the church the road curves to the right. The first road/walkway to the right is Schalpmattgasse. There is a blue street sign on the Chalet Adlerhost. Signs at the corner point right (west) toward Hubel, Alterhaupt and Chalbermatten. Ignore the signs pointing straight ahead (south) to Zmutt, which direct you to the low route. (Note: At the church the street name changes from Bahnhoffstrasse to Oberdorfstrasse.)
Low Route - From the Zermatt Bahnhoff (Train Station): Walk south/southwest on Bahnhoffstrasse, the town’s main street. As you walk down the main street you will pass the Matterhorn Museum and the Pfarrkirche St. Mauritius (church) on the left. Soon the road curves to the right and its name changes to Oberdorfstrasse. As you walk you will start seeing signs pointing straight ahead to Zmutt.
After walking 0.75 miles you will come to a large paved area with a taxi stand and bus stop where the walkway splits. Take the branch to the right, which will be signed for Zmuttweg and Edelweissweg. Hiking signs point to Zmutt and Schonbielhutte. The broad walkway now climbs through meadows and forested hillsides along the right (west) side of the Zmuttbach (Zmutt River). Signs along the way direct you to Zmutt. Reach the small hamlet in about an hour and 10 minutes after walking 2.4 miles and gaining 1,055-ft. (If you are not acclimated the walk will take longer.)
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