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Gornergrat Scenic Trail to Riffelsee

Short hike from the Gornergrat viewpoint down to the Riffelsee lake, with views of the Gorner glacier and Matterhorn.

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Starting from the Gornergrat mountain viewpoint, the Scenic Trail Nr. 15 (aka Aussichtweg) hikes through a beautiful rocky landscape down to the iconic Riffelsee lake. It’s a great way to escape the tourist crowds and spend more time enjoying the Gorner glacier and Matterhorn views.

It’s a short trail at only one hour. But you can continue hiking on other trails farther down the mountain, extending your hike as long as you like. 

Keep reading for all info you need for this hike.

Location:   Zermatt, Valais Switzerland
Address: Gornergrat Bahn
Bahnhofpl. 1, 3920 Zermatt
Car: parking at Matterhorn Terminal TäschBahnhofstrasse 1, 3929 Täsch
then 12 min train to Zermatt
3hr40 from Zurich to Tasch
Train: Zermatt train station 
2h20 from Interlaken, 3hr15 from Zürich
   
Trail: 2 km, longer options below
Condition: mountain trail, dirt path, no strollers
Skill: moderate
Open: train open year round
hiking best July through September
Price 2024: from CHF 110/adult depending on season
Discount with SBB GA, Half-fare, Swiss Travel Pass. Junior card accepted. 
More info: trail statuswebcamforecast

Gallery

Hiking map

Below is an overview summer map of Zermatt, showing where the Gornergrat is in relation to other attractions in Zermatt.

The Scenic Trail starts at the Gornergrat top station and ends at the Riffelsee. From there, you can you can catch the train at the Rotenboden station. Or you can continuing hike down on the Riffelsee Lake Trail or all the way down to Zermatt.  

View trail map on Komoot

The path is very rocky and a bit steep at times, but not particularly difficult. 

Longer alternative to Riffelalp

If you want to hike longer, you can keep hiking from the Riffelsee down to Riffelalp and catch the mountain train there. We think is the best option in this area if your group can manage the distance and long descent, which can be hard on your knees.

This longer version is a total of 3 hr • 6.6 km • 10m up, 860m down • trail map

How to get there

This trail is in the Zermatt area in southern Switzerland (see on Google Maps). 

This trail is accessed from the Gornergrat Bahn, a cogwheel mountain train that goes from Zermatt up to the Gornergrat viewpoint at 3089m. The Gornergrat train station is directly across from the Zermatt train station. You can’t miss it. See on map.

If you are arriving by car, you must drive to Bahnhofstrasse 1, 3929 Täsch and park in the large parking structure at the train station. You can pre-book your parking spot online, which is recommended. Then take the short train ride from Täsch to Zermatt. 

Planning your day

Tickets

It’s easiest to buy a return ticket on the Gornergrat cogwheel train. You can get on and off the train at various stations along the line.

But if you plan to do a longer hike and skip a few of the stations, inform the ticket office and you will pay a little less.

If you are getting a return ticket, we suggest buying it online in advance, so you can skip the line. But tickets do not sell out and you do not need a seat reservation. If you are unsure about which ticket to buy, simply go to the counter. They speak English and are very friendly.

➡️ Book tickets*

The price varies by season. In 2024, a round trip adult ticket starts around CHF 126 in summer. Check current Gornergrat prices.

Discounts

Children 9-15 are half-fare. Children under 9 ride free. You get a 50% discount with the Swiss Travel PassSwiss Half Fare Card and SBB GA Travelcard. No discount with Eurail, SBB Day Pass, or Gemeinde Day Pass.

Make sure to check the webcam before going up. There’s no reason to pay the big bucks if you will be stuck in a cloud.

Opening hours for Gornergrat train

The Gornergrat railway runs every day all year long and welcomes tourists to the viewpoint in all seasons. Each year it closes briefly for revisions, usually in November. So check the current timetable.

During summer and winter, the train runs about every 24 minutes, from about 8:00 to 19:00. In spring and late fall, it runs less frequently, about once an hour. See current schedule.

Make sure to check the forecast and Gornergrat webcams before going up. There’s no reason to pay for an expensive train ticket if you are stuck in a cloud.

Summer hiking season

Summer hiking season in the Gornergrat area usually starts in late June when the snow finally melts from the trail.  Check the trail status before making firm plans.

The Gornergrat trails are usually open through early October, weather permitting. But an early snowstorm can cover these trails as early as late September. If you travel to Zermatt during these times, make flexible plans.

Zermatt itinerary

For a detailed Zermatt itinerary, get my Swiss Summer Ultimate Guide, with interactive map and curated itineraries. If you need help making a personalized itinerary, you can book that here. If you want a printable itinerary for Zermatt that includes this outing, you can purchase my Switzerland with Kids: 3 Days in Zermatt eBook.

Photo story of trail

1. Riding up to Gornergrat

The trains can fill up quickly in high season, so best to arrive a bit early to get in line. I recommend sitting on the right side of the train, since that’s the side where you’ll see the Matterhorn. But any seat has a good view so don’t worry too much. 

The train slowly winds its way up the mountain, taking about 30 minutes to reach the top.

At the top, there is a large complex with a hotel, restaurant, cafe, souvenir shop, WC, etc. From here you have a great view of the Matterhorn and two fantastic glaciers, not to mention all the surrounding alpine landscape.

I recommend wandering around the top and admiring the glacier before heading out on the trail. There is a short rocky trail above the hotel that looks like this.

2. Starting the Scenic trail

The trail starts near the mountain train stop below the hotel. It heads out into this barren landscape.

These views could get more epic!

Trail from Gornergrat down to Riffelsee

The trail parallels the Gorner glacier, so you get many beautiful views of that as you hike.

Hiking trailleading down from Gornergrat

As you approach the Riffelsee, you’ll see signs pointing up to the Rotenboden train stop. Ignore that and continue hiking down to the Riffelsee lake.

Many of the classic pictures you’ll see of the Matterhorn are taken here, with the mountain reflected in this lake. 

Great spot for a picnic or family pic.

3. Continuing the hike

If you are done hiking, walk up to the Rotenboden stop and ride the mountain train down to Zermatt.

If you want to keep hiking, follow trail signs to either Riffelberg (1h, easy) or Riffelalp (2h, moderate).

Matterhorn Riffelweg

 

See more of our family hikes in Zermatt

Video of trail

Watch video from our Zermatt trip in Oct 2018.

 

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There are so many hikes in the Zermatt area that it can be difficult to find the right ones for your family. Here are our top 5 hikes in the Zermatt area for families, with shorter and longer options so you can customize the trip to your needs.

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Hi! I’m Tanya and our family has been living & hiking in Switzerland since 2005, collecting dozens of fun hikes and activities for all ages and abilities. More about us…

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