Les cols du Grand-St-Bernard

Spectacular high-altitude hike straddling the Swiss/Italian border: three scenic cols, an idyllic cluster of alpine lakes and the Great St Bernard Pass with its ancient hospice and famous kennels.

  • Difficulty


  • Length

    11.7 km

  • Duration

    4:45 h

  • Show on map

The Great St Bernard Pass has been an important alpine crossing since Roman times, a major link between northern and southern Europe. The historic pass road also gives access to thrilling hiking terrain.  This trail starting at the pass is a high-altitude loop featuring three climbs to mountain cols, each revealing different views. A little past midway round the loop, the Lacs de Fenêtre are three idyllic mountain lakes on a flower-filled plateau at about 2,500 m. The view of Mont Blanc and its neighbouring snow-capped peaks is sublime. Hikers should allow time to explore the pass area and its historical hospice, founded in the 11th century to offer shelter to travellers and pilgrims. Highlights include a fine baroque church and its glittering treasury. A small museum explores the local fauna and flora, geology and climate, and traces the pass’s eventful history – including Napoleon’s crossing in 1800 with an army of 40,000. Throughout the Middle Ages, pilgrims crossed the pass on their way to Rome – following an itinerary first described by Sigeric the Serious, Archbishop of Canterbury, who passed this way at the end of the 10th century. Today, the Via Francigena once again offers hikers a historical trail all the way from Canterbury to Rome – which our alpine loop follows for its final climb up to the pass. The stars of the hospice, however, are the St Bernard dogs, kept by monks here for centuries. Today, the breeding kennel is in Martigny, run by the Fondation Barry, but every year some of the dogs return to spend the summer up at the pass – now in new kennels, inaugurated in 2017. Visitors can accompany dogs on guided walks in the surrounding mountains. Admission to the kennels and museum is free with the PASS Saint-Bernard – which also covers a wide variety of other attractions in the region plus public transport.   Highlights Dramatic scenery – one pass, three cols, three mountain lakes, spectacular views Historic hospice, church and museum St Bernard dog kennels

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Alpine passes trail Bourg St. Pierre - Trient

Experience the Valais at its best on this Alpine pass hike: sublime in the heights, hospitable in th...
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The best sides of the Valais

The mountain world of the Lower Valais is full of contrasts. A rugged rocky desert awaits you on the Great St. Bernard, where the historic hospice stands somewhat defiantly guard over the pass road. Two Alpine passes and a ridge hike further on, you descend to the idyllic forests of the Val Ferrets and then reach the picturesque mountain lake of Champex. Views of the Trient glacier conclude this hiking tour. The Valais shows itself from its best side: sublime in the heights, hospitable in the villages and panoramic and idyllic at every step.


Day 1: Individual arrival in Bourg St. Pierre

Day 2: Bourg St. Pierre - Col du Grand St-Bernard

On the historic pass path, first along the reservoir, with views of the boldly designed pass road, to the mighty and interesting hospice on the Grand St. Bernard Pass with its famous St. Bernard dogs. The pass climate can be harsh.

Details: approx. 12 km, 1'050 m ascent, 220 m descent, duration: approx. 4 h.

Day 3: Col du Grand St-Bernard - La Fouly

From the hospice over two passes that offer a surprising view of the mountain world. After the two steep pass descents, the next hiking destination, the three Lacs de Fenêtre, shines out in deep blue. The black, strong Eringer cows graze everywhere.

Details: approx. 16 km, 680 m ascent, 1'550 m descent, duration: approx. 5.5 h.

Day 4: La Fouly - Champex

Gentle hike over meadows, through forests and pretty villages. On the final ascent, magnificent views of the distance covered in the dead-straight valley. The picturesque Champex with its lake, surrounded by lots of forest, is a "little Canada".

Details: approx. 15 km, 620 m ascent, 740 m descent, duration: approx. 4.5 h.

Day 5: Champex - Martigny | Departure

This not too long day's stage is part of the "Tour du Mont Blanc". After the romantic, uninhabited Durnand valley, a steep ascent to Alp Bovine. From there magnificent views of the Rhone Valley. After arrival in Trento, bus ride to Martigny, luggage transfer, departure.

Details: approx. 16 km, 880 m ascent, 1'050 m descent, duration: approx. 5.5 h.

Tour character

The ridge hike to La Fouly over the two passes Col des Chevaux and Col du Bastillon is particularly difficult. Here you hike at high altitudes and in alpine terrain. Surefootedness and good physical condition are required for these rocky sections of the Alpine Pass Trail. 

Services included:

  • 4 overnight stays with breakfast

  • Daily luggage transfers

  • Costs for luggage pick-up at the train station

  • Allowance for travel by train

  • Carefully elaborated route

  • Detailed travel documents (1x per room) incl. SchweizMobil Plus subscription

  • Service hotline

Not included:

  • Tourist tax, if due, is not included in the price!

Possibility of additional nights - booking after your payment (you will be contacted by our booking team):

  • Bourg St. Pierre: CHF 85.- (per person in a double room)

  • Single room supplement: CHF 35.-

  • Martigny: CHF 85.- (per person in a double room)

  • Single room supplement: CHF 40.-

Cancellation conditions:

  • Up to 29 days before start of the trip: 20%

  • 28 – 15 days before start of the trip: 50%

  • 14 – 08 days before start of the trip: 70%

  • 07 – 1 days before start of the trip: 90%

  • 0 day before start of the trip / No–show: 100%

Your accommodation in a click

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Turn-by-turn directions

From the summit of the Great St Bernard Pass, follow the road for 100 m on the Swiss side before taking the path on the left to climb steadily up to the Col des Chevaux (2,714 m). The path drops down to the bottom of the valley beyond, the Combe de Drône, before beginning a second ascent to the Col du Bastillon (2,754m). On the far side, the trail descends to the shore of the first of the three Lacs de Fenêtre before threading a course between the second two. A third ascent leads up to the Fenêtre de Ferret (2,694 m), which marks the border between Switzerland and Italy. The path then zig-zags down to the pass road before taking a separate route up to the Swiss border, the pass and hospice – the fourth and final ascent of the hike.

Start: Great St Bernard Pass (2468 m)
Destination: Great St Bernard Pass (2467 m)

Author's recommendation

The PASS Saint-Bernard includes admission to the kennels and museum at the hospice, along with public transport in the Pays du St-Bernard region.

Technical information

  • Altitude

    2747 m 2350 m

  • Ascent

    950 m

  • Descent

    950 m

  • Technique

    Bewertung: 4.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Stamina

    Bewertung: 5.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Experience

    Bewertung: 6 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Landscape

    Bewertung: 6.0 von 5.0 Punkten

Public transport

Train to Martigny; change on to St-Bernard Express, direction Le Châble. Change platform at Sembrancher for train to Orsières. Change on to postal bus for Great St Bernard Pass.

Find full timetable information at sbb.ch.


A9 motorway, exit 22 (Gd St-Bernard). Follow signs for Grand St-Bernard all the way to the pass.


Parking available at the pass.


We recommend: 

  • good footwear
  • clothing suitable for the weather: always carry a waterproof jacket
  • hat or cap
  • sunscreen
  • bottle for water
  • picnic
  • camera
  • binoculars (optional)
  • hiking poles (optional)
  • printout of this hike (click “Print” icon, to download) 

 For certain walks:

  •  Swimwear

Safety information

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.


The tourist office in Orsières has got brochures and information material about hiking in the region.


SwissTopo maps 1:25’000: 1365 Gd St-Bernard