Hikes

Hikes

The larches of Balavaux

A walk among the largest and oldest larch trees in Europe that includes a scenic gondola ride, discovering the “Black Lake”, forest trails and the pretty Bisse de Saxon irrigation channel.

The larch trees in the forests in Valais add magnificent touches of colour throughout the seasons. There are more than 250 trees in the Balavaux pastrurelands, aged from about 300 to nearly 1,000 years old. One veteran has a circumference of overs 14.6 metres, and is considered to be the largest in Europe. The outing begins with a gondola ride from Haute-Nendaz to Tracouet, a summit offering panoramic views of the whole Rhône valley. Head for the Lac Noir (“Black Lake”) and subsequently the Cabane de Balavaux. You'll hike through a forest of imposing larch trees before reaching the largest of them all, nicknamed the "King of Balavaux", thanks to a small purpose-built footbridge. Continue to the "Chalet des Alpes" restaurant, then take a path that leads to the Bisse de Saxon, the longest in the Valais. Once at Pra de Dzeu, return to the resort via the Gouille d'Ouché and Les Rairettes.

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Turn-by-turn directions

Take the cable car from Haute-Nendaz to Tracouet (good walkers can choose to go up on foot: count on about two hours). Head for the Lac Noir (“Black Lake”) and subsequently the Cabane de Balavaux. You'll hike through a forest of imposing larch trees before reaching the largest of them all, nicknamed the "King of Balavaux", thanks to a small purpose-built footbridge. Continue to the "Chalet des Alpes" restaurant, then take a path that leads to the Bisse de Saxon, the longest in the Valais. Once at Pra de Dzeu, return to the resort via the Gouille d'Ouché and Les Rairettes.

Start: Tracouet, top of the lift station (2197 m)
Destination: Nendaz, tourist office (1378 m)

Author's recommendation

Allow a little extra time to walk around the Lac Noir: the setting is enchanting.

Technical information

  • Altitude

    2198 m 1378 m

  • Ascent

    20 m

  • Descent

    839 m

  • Technique

    Bewertung: 2.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Stamina

    Bewertung: 2.0 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Experience

    Bewertung: 6 von 5.0 Punkten

  • Landscape

    Bewertung: 6.0 von 5.0 Punkten

Public transport

Train to Sion, then postal bus to Haute-Nendaz (gondola station), and finally gondola to Tracouet. Find full timetable information at www.sbb.ch

Approach

A9 motorway, exit 26 (Sion-Ouest) if driving from the west or exit 27 (Sion-Est) if approaching from the east. Follow signs for Haute-Nendaz up to centre of resort.

Parking

Various car parks in resort (Prameira, Mer de Glace, Pré de la Patinoire); fee payable.

Equipment

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:

  • Do not leave any waste in nature. 
  • Please be considerate to other trail users, and to the plants and animals.
  • Close gates after passing through.
  • Use marked trails only, and observe all signposting – for your own safety, to safeguard grazing animals and to avoid disturbing wildlife.
  • Bring a map. Download full description of this route including large-scale map by clicking on “Print” icon, top right of this page.

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.

Additional information

More information about the destination:

Literature

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

Maps

SwissTopo Map 1:25’000: 1306 Sion