Switzerland is such a beautiful country it would be a shame to visit and not do any hiking. If you come to picturesque Zermatt one hike that shouldn’t be missed is the Five Lakes Trail or 5-Seenweg Walk.
About the Five Lake Hike
The five lake trail is perfect for getting stunning views of the famous Matterhorn. The hike is officially classed as being medium in difficulty but honestly I would call it an easy hike with a couple of moderately challenging parts. I have weak knees and had only done a couple of hikes before this one and I found it no problem.
The trail is 9.3km long and during the walk you’ll visit 5 lakes, Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee, and Leisee. This is the easiest way to do the hike since it means you’ll mostly be going downhill. The trail should take about 2 hours 30 minutes to hike or 2 hours 50 minutes if you go in the opposite direction. Honestly I would give yourself more time though. The views are so breathtakingly beautiful you’ll want to give yourself time to enjoy them. Plus if you’re a photographer like me, you’ll be stopping A LOT!
Where The Five Lakes Trail Starts
Starting from Zermatt you’ll need to take the funicular to Sunnegga. This is only a short ride, taking only 5 minutes, leads up a rock tunnel inside the mountain. Once at Sunnegga you’ll be 2,288 metres above sea level. If you’re looking to do the more difficult route this will be your starting point with the first lake being Leisee. This route is more difficult because you’ll be mostly be going uphill.
Want to take the easier route? Then from Sunnegga you’ll need to take the gondola up to Blauherd (2,571m). From here you simply need to follow the “5-Seenwag” signs. There will also be signs for the lakes themselves but if you want stick to the Five Lakes trail make sure to follow those “5-Seenwag” signs.
Hiking the Five Lake Trail
From Blauherd the first lake is not too far away. It’s a pretty easy path going downhill towards lake Stellisee which took about 20 minutes to walk to. This is probably the prettiest lake of the five and the best one for getting those gorgeous reflection shots of the Matterhorn.
Sadly for me the weather wasn’t on my side that day so I didn’t get the stunning photos I was hoping for. The clouds where covering the top of the Matterhorn and the water wasn’t calm because of the wind. As someone who loves photography it was a shame but honestly it didn’t ruin my experience at all.
Stellisee is a beautiful lake and it’s worth walking around it. Even though it’s a popular lake to go to it wasn’t that busy when I was there so it was a peaceful place. I was happy chilling out on the rocks enjoying the sounds of nature.
Next I made my way to the second lake, Grindjisee. The walk was mostly downhill but there was nothing really difficult about it. The walk also offered some more great views of the valley and the Matterhorn. I can only imagine how incredible the views are on a clear day!
Grindjisee is quite a sheltered lake, surrounded by trees and bushes. The trail goes around the side of the lake but if you venture off the trail this is where you can get some more reflection shots of the Matterhorn. While these won’t be as heart stopping as Stellisee, there is a charm to Grindjisee that makes you want to hang out there for a while.
After enjoying the views here it was time to head further downhill to the third lake. Even though the trail is visited for the lakes, the views in between the lakes are just as spectacular. I was really enjoying being in the mountains.
While Grünsee does not offer reflection shots of the Matterhorn, it is still a beautiful lake to visit. There are some big rocks that are perfect for a snack break while enjoying the mountainous views.
The walk to the fourth lake is probably one of the trickiest parts of the trail but it really isn’t difficult. It’s just a little steep going downhill and a little rocky. You do have to concentrate a bit on where you’re stepping but that’s it.
Since the path down is not that tricky it’s quite a quick walk to lake Moosjisee. What I liked about this lake is it had a milky blue colour to it. This is due to the lake being an artificial reservoir.
The walk to the final lake is the hardest part of the hike. I think it’s because of this part that the hike is classed as being medium difficulty. Like I said earlier, I have weak knees so struggle to do difficult hikes and this really wasn’t too much of a problem for me. It was a little challenging but I wouldn’t say it was difficult. It’s just quite steep. You can actually avoid this bit and take a longer route up to the fifth lake.
Leisee, the final lake, is right by the Sunnegga station. A lot of people will just get the funicular here and hang out by this lake. It’s a good lake to visit with kids as there is also a park nearby. I was told that people will go swimming in this lake but no one was when I was there.
This is also the final chance to get a reflection shot of the Matterhorn. Unfortunately for me the weather didn’t clear up at all but I’m still happy with the hike and the breathtaking views I had.
Restaurants Along the Five Lakes Trail
If you’re looking to get a bite to eat or grab a coffee somewhere there are two restaurants along the trail. The first one is just after the third lake and the other is at the end of the trail in Sunnegga. I like to have something to eat at the end of the trail as it makes a nice ‘reward’. Because of stopping for photos the trail took me just over 3 hours in total. Sitting on the terrace with lunch and a beer just made the perfect ending to the hike.
Tips for Hiking the Five Lakes Trail
- The official Zermatt website rates this trail as being medium in difficulty. However, I would say it’s an easy hike with 2 difficult sections, one of which can be avoided.
- There are 2 routes for the five lakes trail. The easiest starts from Blauherd and the more difficult route starts at Sunnegga
- The estimated duration of the easy trail is 2 hours and 30 minutes. For the more difficult route it’s 2 hours and 50 minutes. I would definitely give yourself longer though so you can take stops at each lake and stop for photography.
- There are other trails in the area so make sure to follow signs for “5-Seenweg”
- It’s best to start the hike as early as possible to avoid cloudy pictures like I got
- I would recommend taking the first funicular from Zermatt. Check online to see what time they start as times can vary.
- Travel in Switzerland can be expensive but you can save money with the Swiss Travel Card
- Make sure to pack plenty of water and a few snacks
Where to Stay in Zermatt
Looking for accommodation in Zermatt? If you want to treat yourself to a nice spa after hiking then you might enjoy staying at Backstage Boutique Spa Hotel or Europe Hotel & Spa. Or if you’re looking for more affordable luxury there is Alpen Resort Hotel. Zermatt also offers plenty of apartments you can rent out. And if you’re really looking for a budget option Zermatt also has a couple of hostels. Or you can use this handy widget to see all the options available.
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