On 23 Sep 1714, a geological cataclysm devastated the pastures of Derborence: part of the mountain above collapsed, wiping out the community of animals and herders who spent the summer there. Locals believed the disaster the work of the devil; the mountain became known as Les Diablerets.
Because the “cursed” valley was largely abandoned, there were fewer casualties from an even bigger rockfall 35 years later. Giant boulders covered the valley floor, damming the river and creating Europe’s youngest natural lake. Scientists believe that about 50 million cubic metres of rock in all tumbled down from the mountain. Today, the “new” landscape – a national nature reserve – is the delight of biologists, geologists, photographers and visitors all ages.
This hike links two tours: one of the rockslide debris (“Tour de l’éboulement des Diablerets”) and one of the lake (“Tour du Lac de Derborence”). Highlights include the virgin forest west of the lake with monumental fir trees up to 450 years old and undergrowth exceptionally rich in plant species. Walkers have excellent chances of spotting wildlife: local mammals include ibex, deer, chamois, marmot and lynx; birds include golden eagle, black grouse and bearded vulture.
Families may prefer to opt for just one of the two tours that form our circuit. Each has a dedicated guide book (free download) with activities for children. A friendly mountain restaurant close to the two main lakes on the circuit offer rest and play stops.
The journey up to Derborence is an adventure in itself. The only access is via a narrow, twisting road along the gorges of the river La Lizerne.
- Thrilling road journey to access the hike along a wild canyon
- Impressive landscape created by the rockslides, framed by dramatic mountains
- Attractive family theme trails
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:
Getting thereA9 motorway, exit 25 (Conthey). Follow signs for Pont-de-la-Morge, Conthey, Aven, Derborence. Note that the road to Derborence is closed from the beginning of November to the end of April.
ParkingParking shortly before the Lac de Derborence (also below the Lac de Godey, halfway round the loop).
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: