Tour du Val d'Anniviers : la Rando des cinq 4000 (étape 2)
Scenic funicular ride, heavenly astronomical trail, historical hotel and glorious views of the «Imperial Crown» of five 4,000-metre peaks.
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St-Luc is known for its clear air, sunshine and star-filled night skies. Hence the astronomical observatory high above the village, open to visitors for star-gazing evenings – and solar observation sessions by day. Our trail begins near the observatory, at the top station of the St-Luc funicular. The route initially follows the observatory’s «Sentier des Planètes» (The Planets Trail): an exploration of our solar system reduced to a human scale. The sun and planets are each represented by a work of art; each metre of the trail corresponds to a distance of 1 million km in space, with walkers effectively travelling at about 3 times the speed of light. About 1.5 km before the end of the theme trail, hikers reach one of the valley’s historical gems: the Hôtel Weisshorn, built in 1882 at a panoramic, isolated viewpoint (2,337 m). Today, the atmospheric hotel is accessible in summer on foot or by mountainbike, and in winter on snowshoes or touring skis. Our hike continues southwards, high above the Val d’Anniviers and then into the Val de Zinal. Straight ahead, walkers enjoy magnificent views of the «Couronne Impériale» – the «Imperial Crown» of five peaks, all higher than 4,000 metres and draped in glaciers, which form a sparkling backdrop at the end of the valley. The trail finally drops steeply down to Zinal, a picturesque village of ancient larch houses bronzed by the sun. Attractions here include a museum in a house built in 1768 and a fascinating historical trail. Zinal is also the finish point for one the best-loved sporting events of Valais: the Sierre-Zinal run, also known as the «Race of the five 4,000s». Our hike roughly follows the latter part of this race, which participants often describe as one of the most beautiful mountain runs in the world. Highlights Funicular ride, observatory and fun astronomical trail in St-Luc Hôtel Weisshorn – spectacular views, legendary «gateau aux myrtilles» (bilberry tart)