Five Lakes

Five Lakes

For our second day of hiking in Zermatt, we opted for a trail that our host had suggested to us, as it was unexpectedly difficult to find a lot of route information online. With some gorgeous early-autumn weather, we set out for the ‘5-Seenweg’ (Five Lakes) trail. Akin to the previous day, we headed to the town center to catch a lift out of the valley, this time hopping on the funicular to Sunnegga. From the top of the funicular station, we were greeted instantly with a lovely view of the celebrated Matterhorn, though only the mountain’s crooked point peeked out from a ribbon of cottony, cumulus clouds.

The Five Lakes trail rolled gradually along gentle hills, passing through sunlit alpine meadows and shaded coniferous forests. While it was only the beginning of October, the deciduous needles of the larch trees were already turning a dazzling shade of yellow, creating a smoldering canopy above our heads as we traversed the wooded hillside. As we walked, the trail’s five namesake lakes – Leisee, Mosjesee, Grünsee, Grindjisee, and Stellisee – popped one by one from the picturesque landscape. Small fish circled in the shallows of the translucent pools, and the Matterhorn’s reflection could be seen in the mirrored surfaces of three of the lakelets (Leisee, Grindjisee, and Stellisee). If pressed to pick a favorite lake, I’d probably choose Grindjisee, as it’s tucked off the trail a bit, offering not only some additional serenity but ostensibly the most photogenic perspective of the Matterhorn, its muted point framed by verdant pines and golden grasses.

Upon reaching the last lake, Stellisee, the trail forked in two directions – one leading up to Blauherd (and ultimately back down to Sunnegga), and one branching off toward Fluhalp, a summer-season lodge with panoramic views of Adlerhorn’s tapered summit and the undulating tongue of the Findel Glacier. We selected the latter, to try to extend the hike a bit before returning to Sunnegga, and also to check out some additional alpine scenery. When we arrived at Fluhalp, we were met with a rewarding vista of the crests of Adlerhorn, Strahlhorn, and Rimpfischhorn. We could also barely discern what appeared to be the top of a glacial flow, as a squat little ridge hindered our view into what we thought was a glacial valley. Curious to find out what lay on the other side of the short mound, we headed up the slope via some nicely-worn sheep tracks to try for a better vantage point. Indeed, upon reaching the top of the rise we were able to peer straight down onto the Findel Glacier – a totally worthwhile little extension of the hike.

Although undeniably scenic, this hike didn’t hold a candle to the trek up to Matterhorn base camp. While it was nice to change up the typical summit scenery with some lakes and pine forests, there just wasn’t a lot of elevation gain, and it kind of lacked that wow factor. While we found this one a bit underwhelming, this one may fit the bill for anyone looking for an easy day hike without a lot of climbing.

Total distance: 8.8 miles
Elevation gain: 1,904 feet