The third leg of the 5-stage Tour du Val d’Hérens offers a complete contrast to the two previous high-altitude stages, focusing on the lower slopes and charming historical villages.
The stage starts at its highest point: Arolla, the village takes its name from the tree that dominates the forests along the valley floor: the Arolla pine (pinus cembra). These trees are a constant companion along the first part of the trail, which leads the length of the Val d’Arolla, criss-crossing the river – at one point via a 75-metre suspension footbridge opened in 2017.
The second half of the walk is a tour of the villages that form the cultural heart of the Val d’Hérens. From Les Haudères by the river, the trail climbs up to La Forclaz and La Sage, perched on the sunny slopes a couple of hundred metres above the valley floor, before twisting back down to Evolène.
These villages of ancient houses and wooden barns, framed by flower-filled meadows, have preserved all their authentic charm. At summer markets, visitors still see merchants, artisans and farmers in traditional local costume.
The valley is also known for its fascinating geology, which visitors can explore with the help of a free app, «GéoGuide Val d’Hérens» (details at www.evolene-geologie.ch). Les Haudères has its own «Centre de géologie et de glaciologie», with a permanent exhibition; the tourist office at Evolène can provide further printed information.
This stage of the Tour du Val d’Hérens also offers a number of variants: alternative routes via idyllic mountain lakes, plus the option to finish and stay the night at one of the other villages.
- Descent of the Val d’Arolla – idyllic high-altitude valley
- Sequence of historical villages, beautifully preserved and full of period charm
- Fascinating geology, with local museum, app, online guide and 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 destination:
Getting thereA9 motorway, exit 27 (Sion-Est), follow signs for Evolène / Les Haudères / Arolla.
ParkingEither park at Evolène and take postal bus to reach start of walk at Arolla (change at Les Haudères); or park at Arolla and take bus back at end of walk (change at Les Haudères).
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: