The Combe de l’A is a side valley off the main valley leading up to the Great St Bernard Pass. But while the Val d’Entremont has been an important transit route for thousands of years, the Combe de l’A has remained a virtually untouched wilderness. Today, the valley is a nature reserve covering a variety of alpine habitats from altitudes of 1,400 m to 3,000 m.
This hike along the full length of the valley offers excellent opportunities to see alpine wildlife, from ibex, deer and marmots to ravens and golden eagles. Information panels along the way explain how the rocks and landscape have been shaped by water, snow and ice.
The upper reaches are covered in snow for much of the year, but from late springtime, the valley bursts into colour, the meadows carpeted with alpine flowers. In autumn, especially at dawn or dusk, the sound of the belling of the stags promises an unforgettable experience.
The trail passes through a variety of alpine habitats at different altitudes – forest, wetland, pasture, dry meadow – to climb high above the treeline. The climax of the hike comes at the far end of the valley, at the Col du Névé de la Rousse (2,751 m), where hikers enjoy breath-taking views down into the Val Ferret and across to the Mont Blanc massif.
Hikers return to the starting point along the same route. Midway along the valley, the friendly Cabane de la Tsissette serves snacks and meals from the end of June to mid-October – ideal for a refreshment stop either on the way up or down.
- Pristine valley, virtually untouched by human intervention
- Wealth of wildlife – eagles, deer, wild flowers – and fascinating geological trail
- Friendly mountain cabin midway up the valley
Bring a pocket lens to admire the detail of the many different flowers, rocks and minerals along the trail.
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 destination:
Getting thereA9 motorway, exit 22 (Gd St-Bernard). Follow signs for Grand St-Bernard until Liddes, then turn right following signs for Vichères (chairlift).
ParkingFree parking at the Vichères chairlift.
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)