Loop from Champéry to Lacs d’Antème
Scenic loop to an idyllic lake high on the Dents du Midi. Highlights include a historical cliff trail, abundant alpine flowers and a welcoming mountain cabin.
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The Lacs d’Antème are a cluster of alpine lakes below the serrated pinnacles of the Dents du Midi – one of the most recognisable mountains in Switzerland. The highest peak, Haute Cime (3,257 m), towers above the lakes, which are framed by flower-filled meadows: a bewitching sight. The trail begins at the railway station in Champéry, one of the earliest tourism destinations in Switzerland: the first hotel opened here in 1857. Our route quickly leads up to one of Valais’ first tourist attractions: a vertiginous path across the sheer cliffs that overlook the resort. A local entrepreneur called Emmanuel Défago opened the “Galerie Défago” in 1864: the trail mostly follows a natural ledge across the cliffs, but in places workmen had to cut into the rock to produce a continuous path. A century later, the cliff trail was extended to a total of 600 m. The views of Champéry and the whole valley become ever more spectacular along the way. Our route then continues across the mountain flank to reach the river Tière, fed by the Lacs d’Antème high above. The trail zig-zags up the steep slopes to reach the first of the lakes (2,032 m) and, close by, a welcoming mountain hut: the Cabane d’Antème. The refuge can provide information on a separate nature trail that leads from the hut to the other small lakes, linked by filigree streams. Audio guides available from the refuge reveal the secrets of the many alpine plants that flourish in these peaceful hanging gardens, the legacy of vanished glaciers. The nature trail is under 2 km long, and takes around 45 minutes. The main itinerary leaves the lakes to trace a different route westwards, before zig-zagging steeply down through forest to rejoin the outward leg of our hike just above the river La Vièze. Highlights: Dramatic path along the Galerie Défago cliff trail Idyllic mountain lake, framed by alpine flowers, with glorious views Friendly mountain refuge, local nature trail at the lake