Exhilarating high loop around the flanks of the Grand Chavalard (2,899 m). Highlights: scenic chairlift ride, crossing of the Col de Fenestral, Fully alpine lakes and spectacular views.
The Grand Chavalard (2,899 m) is the dramatic peak towering over Fully. This hike traces a high loop around the summit, between altitudes of about 1,850 and 2,450 m.
Starting at the top of the Jorasse chairlift, the trail leads through a sequence of magnificent alpine landscapes. The views are spectacular, including from the highest point of the circuit, the Col de Fenestral (2,453 m): over the Fully lakes to the Mont-Blanc massif in the background.
From here, the trail leads down into the bowl, passing close to the largest lake, the Lac Supérieur de Fully (2,128 m) – part of a pioneering hydroelectric scheme that began operation in 1915. The hydropower station fed by the reservoir lies way down in the Rhône valley, near Fully, and for nearly 20 years boasted the greatest hydraulic head of any such plant in the world (1,643 m).
Further along the trail hikers get a thrilling impression of this drop. As the path leads across the steep southern flanks of the Grand Chavalard, walkers enjoy breathtaking views all along the Rhône valley – and straight down to Fully.
These slopes are the setting for one of the most dramatic sports events in Valais: the “Kilomètre Vertical de Fully”. This race of exactly 1,000 vertical metres starts at the power station and follows the tracks of a disused funicular railway up to an altitude of 1,500 m.
The route climbs through vineyards, meadows and forests, across a short bridge and even through a 50-metre tunnel. With gradients of 60% and more, this is the world’s steepest – and therefore fastest – vertical kilometre race.
Our trail, meanwhile, is much gentler. After traversing the southern slopes of the Grand Chavalard, it turns north to complete the loop, before a final short climb back to the chairlift summit station.
- Ever-changing sequence of alpine landscapes with superb views – Mont-Blanc, the 4,000-metre peaks of Valais and the Rhône valley
- Choice of refreshment stops – 3 mountain refuges en route
- Thermal spa in Ovronnaz – to soothe sore legs
Fully’s historical hydropower station, framed by vineyards, doubles up as a theatre/music venue called La Belle Usine: catch a show.
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 24 (Riddes). Follow signs to Leytron, then Ovronnaz.
ParkingLarge car park (free) at bottom station of Jorasse chairlift. Follow the car park routeing in Ovronnaz.
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: