The nature reserve of Les Follatères offers a glimpse of a distant world: the sound of cicadas and the plants typical of hot, dry zones suggest the Mediterranean rather than the high Alps.
The reserve occupies the steep mountain slope where the Rhône abruptly turns 90 degrees to the right on its journey to Lake Geneva. As a result, the area is influenced by the climate of the lake region as well as that of the high Alps. The geology is exceptionally rich, too, at this crossroads of major valleys: the calcareous rocks and flysch of the Pre-Alps meet the harder crystalline granites and gneiss of the central Alps here.
These conditions make for an exceptional biological diversity across the reserve, which extends for about 5 sq. km from the valley floor (about 450 m above sea level) up to subalpine level (about 1,800 m). Large tracts of the landscape are completely pristine – saved from human activity because of its prohibitive steepness.
The character of the walk changes greatly with the seasons. Early in the year, the slopes are covered in flowers; stars include the Spring Meadow Saffron, which blossoms in large numbers from February. Spring brings the songbirds, including the elusive nightingale. In summer, the slopes turn to gold, flooded in the song of the cicadas. Autumn sees a symphony of colour, under the ballet of migrating birds of prey.
The trail crosses a mixture of habitats: from forest of pine and oak to rocky grassland and dry meadows, all home to different wildlife.
- Nature reserve of national importance, attracting scientists from all over the world
- Dry, sunny slopes home to 200 plant species of southern or oriental origin
Use of the trails and the information on this website is at hikers’ own risk. Local conditions may entail changes to routes. Valais/Wallis Promotion accepts no liability for the accuracy and completeness of information on this website.
For all hikes:
- Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on “Print” icon, top right of this page.
- Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
- Close gates after passing through.
- Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
- Do not leave any waste in nature.
For mountain hikes:
- Take extra care protecting yourself from the sun at altitude. UV radiation can be exceptionally strong, even in cloudy weather.
- Plan hike carefully: take into consideration fitness level of each participant, weather forecast and season.
- Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains, without warning. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
For high-altitude hikes:
- Inform others of the route you plan to take. Whenever possible, avoid going alone.
- Do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
- Take note of the warning signs that point out the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs: water levels may rise rapidly without warning.
Tips, hints and links
More information about the destinations:
A 9 motorway.
Driving from the north/west: exit 20 (St-Maurice), drive south via Evionnaz and Collonges to Dorénaz.
Driving from the south/east: exit 21 (Martigny-Fully), follow signs for Fully, but immediately after crossing Rhône turn left for Dorénaz.
ParkingDorénaz cable car station. After the walk, return from Fully by bus (change in Martigny). Find full timetable information at www.sbb.ch.
Book recommendation by the author
Author’s map recommendations
- good footwear
- clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
- hat or cap
- bottle for water
- binoculars (optional)
- hiking poles (optional)
- printout of this hike (click “Print” icon, to download)
For certain walks: