The Vallée du Trient was one of the first regions in the Swiss Alps to attract foreign tourists – thanks to the Route des Diligences («Stagecoach Road»), built between 1855 and 1861. The valley soon became internationally famous because of its scenic beauty and elegant resorts such as Finhaut, which has retained its magnificent Belle Epoque hotels.
The track, with its 51 hairpin turns, now offers a delightful family walk. The trail roughly follows the route of the narrow-gauge Mont-Blanc Express, built from 1902 to 1906 – so tailoring the perfect outing is easy.
Highlights of the itinerary include dramatic views of deep gorges – especially in the upper valley, inaccessible to cars – and Le Trétien, a village of national architectural importance thanks to its historical wooden buildings and twisting lanes.
Families will enjoy stopping at Les Marécottes to visit the highest-altitude zoo in Europe, home to black bears, wolves, lynx, marmots, chamois, ibex and many other alpine animals. The adjacent natural swimming pool in the rock, 70 metres long, reaches temperatures of 24-27 degrees in summer, heated by the sun.
In Salvan, a small museum commemorates a pioneering visit by a prestigious guest: Guglielmo Marconi. During an extended stay in summer 1895, he managed to send a message using electromagnetic radiation over a distance of more than 1 kilometre: wireless was born.
The route as a whole forms part of the ViaCook, a cultural itinerary that traces the very first group tour through Switzerland, organised by the British package holiday pioneer Thomas Cook in 1863.
- Dramatic scenery, deep gorges and Finhaut with its Belle Epoque hotels.
- Les Marécottes – alpine zoo, natural rock swimming pool
- Switchback descents, fun for kids – 17 bends at start of walk, 37 at end
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:
A9 motorway, exit 20 (St-Maurice) if you come from the north, or if you come from the east, exit 21 (Martigny-Fully). Follow the signs for Vernayaz. It is recommended to park your car at the departure point at Vernayaz and take the train from Finhaut to return.
ParkingVernayaz: by railway station (Mont-Blanc Express).
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: