Sentier des bouquetins
Loop taking in the Grande Dixence dam, the Lac des Dix and a neighbouring valley: fascinating theme trail (hydropower, flora, fauna, geology) with good chances of spotting wildlife.
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Le Sentier des Bouquetins (“The Ibex Trail”) is a theme trail that explores the fauna, flora, history and geology of the Grande Dixence region as it provides an insight into a pioneering hydropower complex. The trail was inaugurated in 2012, and features seven stops – including the Cabane de Prafleuri, ideal for a refreshment break. Details of the walk appear in an 86-page brochure (available in English, French and German), which can be downloaded free of charge. Printed copies are also for sale at the dam visitor centre (free admission). The trail begins near the crest of the dam, and initially leads along the shores of the lake, in and out of a sequence of tunnels. A climb through flower-filled pastures leads to the Col des Roux (2,803 m) and good chances of spotting ibex – the wild cousins of the domestic goat, instantly recognisable with their superb curved horns. Beyond the col lies a valley, the Combe de Prafleuri, whose glacial moraines provided raw material for the dam in the form of rock crushed into gravel. For 8 years from 1952, about 500 workers lived and slept here in a temporary village of about 20 wooden huts. Just one is left: the only witness of one of the biggest building sites Switzerland has known. The hut previously served as a mountain refuge, but in 2000 a new Cabane de Prafleuri opened a few metres away. The engineering highlight here is, of course, the dam itself: the tallest in Europe at 285 m. The visitor centre offers guided tours inside the dam, the heart of the Grande Dixence complex: a vast network of reservoirs, underground tunnels, pumping stations and power plants that together form Switzerland’s largest hydro plant. Highlights Detailed theme trail on hydropower, wildlife and the history of the dam complex Grande Dixence – world’s largest gravity dam, visitor centre (free admission) and cable car Lac des Dix – path in and out of tunnels along Switzerland’s largest reservoir