A contrasting and scenic loop below and above the cliffs that tower above St. Maurice, leading past nationally important cultural sites and historical fortifications.
The narrowest stretch of the lower Rhône valley is by the ancient town of St-Maurice, strategically located between towering cliffs and the fast-flowing river.
This scenic trail follows the foot of the cliffs before climbing to the plateau above, revealing a balcony view of the Rhône valley. The trail then crosses the plateau in the opposite direction, before twisting back down through the woods at the northern end of the town.
The final stretch of the walk leads past some hidden secrets. “La Grotte aux Fées” (“Fairies’ Grotto”) was Switzerland’s first cave complex to open to the public, more than 150 years ago. A 500-metre passageway leads to a subterranean lake and waterfall.
A doorway in the side of the tunnel, meanwhile, leads to an underground artillery fort, one of three excavated in the cliffs on either side of the river. The Fort de Cindey regularly hosts guided tours of a complex that remained top-secret until abandoned in 1995. A little further downhill, a castle stands guard over the narrowest point in the valley; built between the 15th and 17th centuries, it now houses a museum that celebrates the art of the graphic novel.
The final stretch of the walk leads past the jewel of St-Maurice’s crown: its abbey, founded more than 1,500 years ago and home to a priceless treasury.
- Towering cliffs – dramatic backdrop to start of walk
- La Grotte aux Fées – underground caves, lake and waterfall
- Military fortifications – guided tours of tunnel networks, gun emplacements
- Abbey of St-Maurice – 1,500 years of history, priceless treasury
Bring a pair of binoculars: the cliffs are a nesting site for birds including rare peregrine falcons.
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 and hints
More information about the destination:
A9 motorway, exit 20 (St-Maurice).
ParkingVarious car parks (fee payable) in the town centre. Follow the local car park routeing.
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: