Lago Ritom is an alpine lake located in Canton Ticino, Switzerland in the high valley of Piora (Val Piora). It covers a surface area of 1.49 km2 and rises to an altitude of 1,850 meters (6,070 feet).
Lago Ritom is an ideal location for those seeking rest, relaxation, and recreation. The area around the lake offers many excursions and memorable hikes, as well as a rich biodiversity.
Lago Ritom in Val Piora
Val Piora is a beautiful raw jewel of the Leventina, with fresh air and soft peaks. Located between 1,800 and 2,000 meters above sea level, it is a natural paradise. Mountain lakes are embedded in this wonderful mountain world like gems, and numerous hiking trails surround them. Amidst the majestic Swiss Alps, this pristine lake can be found in this high valley, quite similar to what you see in Melchsee-Frutt.
Val Piora area has a remarkable variety of botanical, faunal and geological elements. North winds block the area, and it is rich in flora and fauna. Taking the Lago Ritom Nature Trail will give you a better understanding of the environment, fauna and flora, as well as human traces around Lago Ritom. A funicular can be used to reach this high valley.
The Ritom Funicular is one of the steepest funiculars in the world, with an 87.8% maximum gradient.
Opened to the public in 1921, the funicular itself is an interesting attraction. This steep funicular takes you from the village of Piotta, 1,010.5 meters up to 1,796 meters in fifteen minutes. I can attest to the Ritom funicular feeling much steeper than any other funicular that we’ve tried. The average steepness is 71%. It was steeper than Braunwald or Harder Kulm, for example.
Lago Ritom: A Reservoir
A natural alpine lake in Switzerland, Lago Ritom is a mountain lake paradise. A hydroelectric power plant built on Lago Ritom was designed to meet the needs of the growing passenger and freight trains through the opening of the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels.
The SBB Ritom Power Plant was built between 1917 and 1920 on the shores of a glacial lake. It is a joint venture between the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), The Ticino Power Plant Company in Quinto, and the Canton of Ticino. In 1950, the 170 meter long gravity wall was raised to a height of 23 meters and a length of 309 meters.
Things to do in Lago Ritom
Switzerland’s Lago Ritom is a magical hiking destination during the summer and fall season. Located amid lush green meadows and (sometimes) towering snow-capped peaks, this lakeside picnic spot is ideal for families.
Around Lago Ritom there are numerous smaller lakes such as Lago Cadagno and Lago di Tom, which add to its beauty.
Hikes around Lago Ritom
A number of hikes are available to, from, and around Lago Ritom. Then, you can decide if you want to visit only Lago Ritom or also Lago Cadagno and Lago di Tom lakes as well.
A couple of routes go to Capanna Cadagno from Lago Ritom, but these are expert hikes which require good fitness, sure-footedness, sturdy shoes, and alpine experience.
The Lago Ritom Nature Trail leads along the southern forest side of the mountain lake. It takes about four hours to complete the hike. It will help you understand the environment, fauna, and flora surrounding Lago Ritom, as well as the human footprints around the waterway.
In addition to the Lago Ritom and its associated dam, there are many beautiful hiking trails nearby. Here is a quick overview of easy to intermediate hikes around Lago Ritom:
|Hiking Trail Route||Distance (kiloemters)|
|Lago Ritom Circular Trail||9.5 km|
|Three lakes hike – Lago Ritom, Lago Cadagno, Lago di Tom||12 km|
|Nature Theme Trail – Lago Ritom||11 km|
|Airolo – Lago Ritom||8.39 km|
|Val Cadlimo Hike||25 km|
|Föisc Hike||5 km|
|Lago Ritom – Lukmanier Pass||14 km|
Hiking Time Calculator
Plan your hikes with ease using our Hiking Time Calculator. Calculate estimated hiking times based on distance, altitude, terrain, and average speed.
On June 1st, the fishing season in the alpine lakes opens, attracting hundreds of fishermen. Seasons end at the end of September. From June 19th, you can fish with a tourist fishing license (prices start at 60 CHF for two days). For more information, you can contact the tourist office in Airolo or visit the departure station in Piotta.
The Route 65 (Gottardo Bike) passes by Lago Ritom in the second stage from Airolo to Olivone. You will encounter numerous lakes, idyllic forests, and unique flora and fauna along the way. This alpine landscape is full of treasures such as these.
The Gottardo Bike route has the following three stages:
- Andermatt to Airolo – 32.7 kilometers
- Airolo to Olivone – 40.7 kilometers
- Olivone to Biasca – 40.48 kilometers
Bird-Watching in Val Piora
Val Piora provides a fantastic nature experience with opportunities to observe for at least two days, if not more. In addition to the bird species, dragonflies, butterflies, grasshoppers, and plants can also be seen.
A large variety of alpine bird species can be found in Val Piora during the breeding season, including black grouse and hazel grouse. There are some birds that can be observed all year round, and there are some birds that can be observed from April to August or even until October.
How to Get to Lago Ritom
The funicular departs from Piotta to take you to Lago Ritom. There is typically a funicular ride once an hour. Once you arrive at the mountain station, you must walk to the lake. From the funicular to the lake, it will take around 30 minutes. It is easy to walk even with small children since the path is wide and only slightly inclined. If you wish, you can hike from Airolo to the lake.
Valle-Altanca has direct access to Lago Ritom via an unpaved one lane 5-kilometer road that winds through mountainside villages and small farms.
TIP: It is much easier to take the funicular up to the lake from Piotta than to drive up and park your car all the way up there near the dam.
|By Funicular||Via Funicolare 3|
|By Car||Parcheggio Ritom|
Final Thoughts: Lago Ritom
There is nothing better than being surrounded by mountains and lakes on a clear day away from the hustle and bustle of life. On misty days, Lago Ritom looks like something from a fairytale. Depending on your preference, it’s a pleasant place to relax or take a strenuous hike.
With its crystal-clear waters, Lago Ritom offers breathtaking views of the mountains. On foot or by funicular, its closest mountains provide an unforgettable experience. Those who want to stay can do so at the Lago Ritom Hotel. For hikers who wish to reach the Berggasthaus Cadano, there is also one there.
There’s also an astounding array of wildlife and plant life here for an experience like no other. Coming here is highly recommended, and I can’t wait to return.
- Maris Geographischer Verlag. Lago Ritom. Marco Polo – Tessin, 2003.
- Neues Kraftwerk Ritom. SBB. Accessed on 6 February 2023. https://company.sbb.ch/de/ueber-die-sbb/projekte/projekte-mittelland-tessin/ritom.html.
- Regione Ritom-Piora. Accessed on 6 February 2023. https://www.ritom.ch/.
- Technische Daten Standseilbahn Ritom. Regione Ritom-Piora.
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.