Zermatt is a great base for some of the amazing hiking routes into the mountains surrounding the resort. One of the area's most spectacular (and arguably the easiest) hikes is the Five Lakes Trail to the east of town. I had heard that reflections of the Matterhorn can be seen on the surfaces of three of the lakes, so I decided to do the hike to see them for myself.
The Five Lakes Trail starts at Blauherd and leads past the lakes of Stellisee, Grindjisee, Grünsee, Moosjisee and Leisee. The hike spans 9.3 km and has diverse terrain, from broad, even gravel pathways to slender dirt trails with occasional jutting rocks and a segment of switchbacks.
While walking to each lake, I could easily understand why this trail path is one of the most popular hiking trails in Zermatt – it’s relatively and family-friendly, and the views are stunning. You can expect to take 3-4 hours to complete the walk, depending on your pace and which direction you start the hike from.
Rather than starting the hike from Zermatt itself, I took a train ride to Sunnegga to get to the heart of the route. The valley station of the Sunnegga-Rothorn railway is located a ten-minute walk from the main Zermatt train station. When you get to the station, you’ll already be 1,620 meters above sea level and will go even further up on a funicular ride through a tunnel high up into the mountain.
First opened in the early 1980s, the funicular ride can carry 2,500 passengers an hour and the journey takes three minutes. By doing it this way it does cost a bit but if you’re short of time or want cut some of the distance from the hike, then this is for you (I was short on time, of course).
After the short ride up to Sunnegga (located at 2288 meters above sea level), I then took a short gondola ride up to Blauherd where the hiking trail begins.
Each gondola can take up to eight passengers and only takes a few minutes to reach Blauherd which is located at 2,571 meters above sea level. When arriving at Blauherd, you’ll immediately see amazing views of the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks. Even if you are are not hiking, it is still worth a visit here just to admire the alpine views and relax.
If hikers want to, the route can also be started from Sunnegga and finish at Blauherd, but that takes longer as there are more uphill ascents.
From Blauherd, it’s a relatively short walk to the first lake, Stellisee - I walked it in about twenty-five minutes. I saw many burrows where marmots live, so stick to the paths to avoid the holes.
The Steillisee is probably the most beautiful lake out of the five and is lovely to walk around. On the far end of the lake, there are a couple of benches where you can rest and take in the view of the Matterhorn, as well as seeing its reflection on the water's surface on a clear day.
From there, the walk to the second lake is the quickest as it’s mostly downhill. The tall mountain peaks overshadowed me and the clouds were quickly drfiting away. This part of the trail can get very dusty and there are fewer trees here, so be prepared to apply sunblock.
When you get to the second lake, Grindjisee, you can admire the rare flowers on the short of the lake and, of course, marvel at the reflection of the Matterhorn in the lake on a clear day.
This is also a great place to sit on a huge rock on the eastern side of the lake and take in the surrounding noises of nature and have snack. However, walking around this lake can requires good footwear if there’s been some wet weather – it rained a few days before I came up here and was very boggy.
Grünsee is the third lake and on a clear day, you’ll see amazing views of the Matterhorn from here, however on a cloudy day it can seem a bit dim and grim. I was fortunate enough to have plenty of space around me as this lake is quite open, with lots of huge rocks to sit on and take in the views and have a snack.
Or, if you are bored, take in the fish and see why all one hundred small fish are attacking one fish as we saw!. The lake looks out over a more rugged landscape where Swiss stone pine trees manage to grow among the sand and scree.
The walk from the third to the fourth lake was the steepest downhill section to tackle. Luckily the paths aren’t too rocky or tricky, so it’s a quick trip down. The lake is known as Moosjisee but I didn’t see any Moose around here, however, there are great views of the surrounding mountains and is a great place to chill out.
This lake has milky-blue surface and looks very clean and spectacular from above. It’s also used to power electricity in Zermatt down below.
The hike from the fourth to the fifth lake can be a toughie if anyone takes the wrong route. The easy route is signposted (look out for the yellow signs with 5-Seenweg written on them) and takes a little longer with wide, dusty road trails.
I decided to take the shorter but tougher route, which took me uphill towards Leisee. Walking along this trail felt a the scene from the ‘Sound of Music’ with the green grass surrounded by snow-peaked mountains and the sun rays shining on me.
The Leisee is located near the Sunnegga train station and is a great lake for children to play nearby (there is a huge playground here) and it’s an ideal lake to swim in. Here there is also another great chance to see the Matterhorn reflection on the lake surface but not much luck today.
The best thing about doing this hike is at the finish. After walking about three hours going up and down dusty trails and, a short hike through a forested area, at Sunnegga there is a nice buffet restaurant to chill out at.
I went for the traditional Swiss Rosti meal (potato with a fried egg) plus a large beer. Sitting outside the outdoor terrace is a perfect location in the sunshine to eat a traditional Swiss meal and get light-headed before taking the train back down.
Overall, this was a very nice easy hike to do and can be done with anyone. A lot of people say the route I took can be done in 2h30, but I took about 3h45, including breaks and photographic opportunities.
Then, with the food top at the end, I spent about five hours enjoying the beautiful Swiss alpine scenery. This is an ideal short hike for anyone visiting the area.
If you’re hiking as a family, be sure to plan some extra time for lunch. You can choose between the mountain restaurant and taking a picnic.
Plan each hike carefully and look at the weather details and what season you are in. Do not hike here if there is six feet of snow everywhere be sure you have the right fitness level to do the hike. The Five Lakes Trail can be done by anyone above the age of six as its reasonably short mostly flat with a lot of descent involved.
The weather conditions can change very quickly in the mountains. Make sure you have the appropriate clothing, and if on longer hikes, make sure you have adequate supplies of food and water.
Avoid going alone if you are not an experienced hiker, and if you can, inform others of the planned route.
Do not leave the marked routes and do not venture onto glaciers.
Be considerate to other walkers and to animals and plants.
Take note of the warning signs. They are there for a reason.
The best time for hiking is between June and September due to the season and weather conditions.
There are no official toilet stops on some routes (including this one), so make sure to use the bathroom before you go
Last Updated 18 September 2023