One of the most popular hiking trails in Zermatt is Matterhorn Glacier Trail. Basically everything in Zermatt is about Matterhorn. Obviously other peaks are popular too but, come on! Who does not know Matterhorn? People do not always realise that they know it! Look at the below picture.
Being in Zermatt you have to go to Matterhorn, or at least somewhere near to it! Often hikers choose to go to Hörnlihütte. This is the base for most Alpine climbers. They leave the hut early hours on the morning to climb this iconic mountain. While the trail to Hörnlihütte would be achievable to myself or Mr Sting, our kids on the other had are way too young for this trail. Therefore we have picked The Matterhorn Glacier Trail. The red trail number 26, as per local trail maps. Fairly easy, child friendly trail. Around 6,5 kilometre long. Usually takes between 2 – 2,5 hours walk. We, however never rush, often stop for pictures or refreshments, so for us it was around 3 hours. When I say fairly easy and child friendly, it means fairly easy for us! We are quite experienced hikers, and also the kids have already been introduced to high altitude mountains including Alps. Perhaps for complete beginner I would recommend going with bigger group or with a guide.
We have picked the day which may not be considered as an ideal choice for hike. It has been raining for two previous days in Zarmatt and on the higher parts of mountains you could find fresh snow. Clouds covered the sky but they were not rain clouds. We obviously checked the weather forecast prior the trip. We knew it will not rain. Surprisingly the weather forecast has been very accurate in Zermatt, the Swiss are very particular in everything what they do!
We absolutely loved this trail! Firstly we took the cable car from Zermatt to Schwarzsee. It was very easy to buy the ticket, I have simply explained which station we want to go to and which trail we want to take. I did my best to speak German, just to show my respect to the country I am visiting but the lady behind the counter just smiled and said we can speak English, which was much easier. The ticket lady warned there is a fresh snow on the trail. This is usually not an issue for us! So… We took the cable car to Schwarzsee. This took probably around 20 minutes to get there as there was a few other stations on the way. Zermatt has extremely well developed net of cable car and mountain train services. You can get nearly everywhere you want using these services.
Normal people usually take this trail from Trockener Steg station, walking down to Schwarzsee. But since we are not a normal family, we have decided to do it opposite way, harder way! The trail near the Schwarzsee was slightly grassy but still steep. After around 30 minutes it become rocky, somewhat steep at certain parts. Not too demanding, it was definitely not scrambling. The trail runs on the edge of the glacier where you can observe interesting rock formations or sparse alpine plant. It is well marked. from one trail marker you can easily spot next one. There are also information boards installed throughout the trail, giving you information about geology, biology, or interesting facts from the history. Great fun for kids!
The day was cloudy. There was storm a day before. It was also quite windy and cold at that height. During the clear sky you would be able to see Matterhorn from every point of this trail. We were waiting for ages to do a nice picture of this mountain, we have never been closer to the “toblerone mountain” before. Below is the best picture of Matterhorn we took that day. You can also see the trail marker.
After around 3 hours of walk we arrived to Trockener Steg station where we have taken the cable car down to Zermatt.
To sum up the trip was very successful. Even though the kids had moments of moan and anger, we kept on walking, feeding the children with Swiss chocolate, drinking sweet herbal tea, and we have survived. Lastly, I must mention the views. Even with the clouds they were just breath-taking. Occasionally the surrounding area looked stunningly surreal! There was hardly any people on the trail, after all, who would be keen to walk in this windy, cold weather at the altitude above 2500 meters. The views often reminded me of empty moon-like surfaces you can see on NASA pictures. Gray and rocky. Then the post-glacial lakes and streams… I cannot find words for all that. This was truly unique experience. I am extremely lucky person to visit this place and be there with my family.