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Fitness
Hikes

Hike to the Lac Vert (Chésery)

Hikes • Valais
  • Lac Vert above Champéry
    / Lac Vert above Champéry
    Photo: JB Bieuville, CC BY-ND
  • View from the Croix de Culet
    / View from the Croix de Culet
    Photo: Champéry Tourisme
  • Lac Vert
    / Lac Vert
    Photo: JB Bieuville, CC BY-ND
  • Lac Vert above Champéry
    / Lac Vert above Champéry
    Photo: JB Bieuville, CC BY-ND
  • Dents du Midi hided by clouds
    / Dents du Midi hided by clouds
    Photo: David Carlier, CC BY-ND, Valais/Wallis Promotion
Map / Hike to the Lac Vert (Chésery)
Weather

Panoramic hike to the idyllic Lac Vert («Green Lake») near the mountain pass that gave this international holiday region its name: the Portes du Soleil.

difficult
17.3 km
5:30 h
462 m
1359 m

Most people know the Portes du Soleil as a vast international holiday playground spanning the border between France and Switzerland. In winter, the «Gateway to the Sun» is one of the world’s largest ski areas; in summer, a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.

In fact the region takes its name from a mountain pass on the Swiss side of the border. The Portes du Soleil (1,950 m) links the Val de Morgins to the Val d’Illiez; our hike includes the pass as part of a sweeping loop to the Lac Vert, one of the most magical spots in the region.

Our trail begins at the top station of the cable car from Champéry to Croix de Culet. The restaurant with its panoramic terrace offers breathtaking views of the serrated Dents du Midi opposite and the whole of the upper Val d’Illiez.

From here, the trail climbs steadily northwards to reach a col just to the west of the Portes du Soleil: the Portes de l’Hiver («Gateway to Winter»). Beyond, walkers find a high, suspended plateau, and at its heart, the sparkling waters of the Lac Vert (1,973 m). For centuries, shepherds have passed the summer with their flocks at this tranquil spot; the tinkling of the sheep’s bells and the shimmering reflections of the sky’s colours on the lake have a wonderfully soothing effect.

Beside the lake, the Refuge de Chésery is a converted 19th-century stable that serves delicious local produce – and sells permits to fish for rainbow trout. Interested hikers need to bring their own rod and line.

Our trail completes a circuit of the lake before returning to the Portes de l’Hiver and dropping down the ridge to the Portes du Soleil. The path traces a high loop across the mountain bowl overlooking the small resort of Les Crosets before the final descent via Planachaux to Champéry, via lush pastures and fragrant forests.

 

Highlights: 

  • Panoramic, mostly high-level hike, accessed by cable car
  • Peaceful mountain lake, magical atmosphere, friendly refuge restaurant
  • Flexible itinerary, various options

Author’s recommendation

Rides on the Croix de Culet cable car are free for holders of a «Multi Pass». This also covers indoor climbing, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and tennis in Champéry plus dozens of discounts throughout the Portes du Soleil.

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Altitude
2097 m
1033 m
Highest point
Portes de l'Hiver (2097 m)
Lowest point
Champéry (1033 m)
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

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.

Equipment

We recommend: 

  • good footwear
  • clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
  • hat or cap
  • sunscreen
  • bottle for water
  • picnic
  • camera
  • binoculars (optional)
  • hiking poles (optional)
  • printout of this hike (click «Print» icon, to download)  

For certain walks:

  • Swimwear

Tips, hints and links

More information about the destination: 

Start

Croix de Culet, cable car summit station (1932 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
46.175189 N 6.845152 E
UTM
32T 333673 5115769

Destination

Champéry, railway station

Turn-by-turn directions

A number of variants of this hike are possible.

The shortest and easiest option is to follow the trail as described from the Croix de Culet summit station as far as the Lac Vert, and then return the same way before taking the cable car back down to Champéry.

Another option is to add the loop via the Portes du Soleil on the return leg from the lake – before, once again, taking the cable car down from Croix de Culet.

The full version adds the descent via the pastures of Planachaux and the meadows and forests further down. This section of the hike involves a descent of about 750 vertical metres through lush meadows and pine forest, which adds a completely new dimension to the hike.

Public transport

Train to Champéry; board cable car for Croix de Culet beside railway station. Find full timetable information at sbb.ch.

Getting there

A9 motorway, exit 18 (St-Triphon) if approaching from Lake Geneva or exit 19 (Bex) if driving from higher up the Rhône valley. Follow signs for Monthey and then Champéry.

Parking

Large car park by Champéry station. Follow the car park routeing in Champéry. 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

The tourist office in Champéry has got brochures and information material about hiking in the region.

Author’s map recommendations

SwissTopo maps 1:25’000: 1304 Val d'Illiez

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No current conditions found in the area.
Difficulty
difficult
Distance
17.3 km
Duration
5:30 h
Ascent
462 m
Descent
1359 m
Tour route Nice views With refreshment stops Botanical highlights Mountain railway ascent/descent

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