The Morteratsch Glacier Hike is a 2.9-kilometer hike in Val Morteratsch that provides breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains such as Piz Argient, Crast’ Agüzza, Piz Zupo, and the Vadret da Morteratsch glacier itself. The trail is suitable for hikers of all levels, making it an accessible adventure for everyone. It is a popular activity for tourists visiting the Pontresina and the Upper Engadine Valley.
The Morteratsch Glacier Hike is suitable for hikers of all levels. Most of the trail runs facing the Morteratsch Glacier and is pretty flat or slightly inclining, suitable for everyone. But if you’re up for a tougher challenge that requires balance and coordination, you can walk near the glacier tongue approximately 100 meters above. It’s an exciting and demanding experience.
Overview of Morteratsch Glacier Hike
The Morteratsch Glacier Hike starts at the Morteratsch train station and takes you along a clearly marked path through the forest and up to the glacier. If you’re interested in discovering more about the Morteratsch Glacier and its gradual retreat, you’ll find informative boards along the trail where you can expand your knowledge.
During your hike, you’ll encounter pristine glacial streams, beautiful alpine meadows, and majestic peaks. The trail is mostly gentle, with just a few steeper parts, and it typically takes between two and three hours to finish.
As you approach the glacier, you’ll be treated to a breathtaking view of the immense ice mass and the majestic mountains that encircle it. The Morteratsch Glacier, while not the largest in all of Switzerland, holds the title of the largest glacier in the Bernina Range and the canton of Graubünden.
The Morteratsch Glacier has attracted hikers and mountaineers for well over a century. This serene hike offers you the chance to witness the impact of climate change on this magnificent glacier. In the summer, this area also welcomes bikers, and in the winter, cross-country skiers.
Our Experience: Morteratsch Glacier Hike
- Hiking Route: The Morteratsch Glacier hike is a well-frequented trail in the Swiss Alps, providing stunning vistas of the neighboring mountains and glaciers. While the initial part is relatively easy and flat, if you desire to ascend, be prepared for more challenging terrain, including navigating large stones, requiring balance, and taking your time to reach the glacier tongue. The full trail typically takes about three hours to complete.
- Duration: While the duration may vary for each group, you can generally anticipate that the entire experience will take approximately three hours. If you’d like, you can utilize the hiking calculator to make your own estimation.
- Views: The views of the Morteratsch Glacier and its surroundings were absolutely stunning. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting Val Morteratsch three times – in spring to see the glacier and the nearby Alpine Ibex Promenade, in summer, and in autumn. Personally, I found the autumn visit the most enchanting due to the crisp air, the golden larch trees, and the snow-capped peaks against the backdrop of autumn colors. It painted the most picturesque and dreamy scenery.
- Trail Markers and Condition: Since the path is mostly straight and well-marked, it was very easy to follow. The surface was also very well-maintained. There are numerous scenic spots along the way but the highlight is definitely the view of the glacier.
Hiking Trails in Val Morteratsch
Hiking in Val Morteratsch is a delightful experience, thanks to the stunning glaciers and high alpine mountains that await you. It’s a popular destination for hikers of all levels to explore the breathtaking natural beauty of the area.
There are several hiking trails that lead through the valley and offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The Diavolezza Morteratsch Glacier Trail offers a challenging adventure, but guided tours provide a safe way to explore the valley and experience the wonders of the glacier up close.
Here are three main hiking trails in Val Morteratsch to explore:
|Morteratsch Glacier Nature Trail
|The Morteratsch Glacier Trail offers a short, 50-minute walk from the Morteratsch train station to the glacier and massive ice tongue, with 16 stops along the way providing insights into the glacier’s retreat and the life in its forefield.
|Morteratsch – Boval Hut Trail
|This magnificent Morteratsch valley hike, starting at the Morteratsch railway station, leads hikers up to the glacier via moraines, rocky terrain, and grassy mounds to the Boval Hut, offering stunning views of the Bernina Massif along the way.
|Diavolezza Morteratsch Glacier Trail (Guided Tour)
|While experiencing a glacier up close requires expertise, “average” hikers can safely explore two glaciers and the valley with guidance from the Bergsteigerschule Pontresina, starting at Berghaus Diavolezza, descending to the Pers Glacier with a breathtaking view of Piz Palü, walking across scree to the Morteratsch Glacier with views of Piz Bernina, and concluding at the Rhaetian Railway station of Morteratsch. Note: Currently, the hike is unavailable due to poor glacier conditions.
If you’d like to determine the duration of your hike on any of these three trails, feel free to use the hiking time calculator.
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.
When is the Best Time to Do the Morteratsch Glacier Hike?
The best time to do the Morteratsch Glacier Hike is in autumn when the larches are yellow. I suggest coming between late September and late October when the trees are golden.
However, it is also a great place to visit in the late spring and summer months. During this time, the valley is lush with greenery and the weather is mild, with warm temperatures during the day and cool temperatures at night. The trail is also free of snow.
During winter, it’s a beautiful walk but be prepared for chilly temperatures. The temperature typically drops below freezing point, making it difficult for hikers to traverse the trail.
I do not recommend coming in spring. We tried it once, and it wasn’t enjoyable with slushy snow.
Practical Information for the Morteratsch Glacier Hike
While hiking in Val Morteratsch can be enjoyable, it is important to take the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and successful trip. Here are a few safety measures hikers should keep in mind:
- Keep in mind that the trail starts at an elevation of 1,800 meters, so if you’re not acclimated to high altitudes, it’s advisable to take necessary precautions.
- As you near the end of the trail, you’ll encounter several warnings about potential rockfall hazards, so please exercise caution and avoid any risky behavior.
- Plan your hike based on the route and the weather forecast.
- Wear proper hiking gear such as sturdy hiking boots, enough layers of clothing, and extra layers in case of unexpected weather changes. I recommend wearing hiking boots with good ankle support in case you want to hike up near the glacier tongue.
- Make sure to bring sufficient drinks and snacks, as there are no restaurants along the route unless you opt for the Morteratsch-Boval Hut Trail.
How to Get to the Morteratsch Glacier Hike
The trailhead of the Morteratsch Glacier Hike is located at the Morteratsch train station, which can be easily accessed by public transportation from nearby towns.
- There are post buses from Samedan, Pontresina, Ospizio Bernina, and Livigno.
- The train runs from St. Moritz, Celerina Staz, Pontresina, Bernina Diavolezza, Ospizio Bernina, Alp Grüm, Poschiavo, and Tirano.
If you’re arriving by regional train, remember that Morteratsch is a “Request Stop,” so you’ll need to press the train stop button; otherwise, the train will continue to the next stop.
If you are traveling by car, take the A13 highway to the town of St. Moritz. From there, follow the signs to Pontresina. Once in Pontresina, follow the signs to Morteratsch Glacier. There is a large parking lot near the trailhead (approximately 5 minutes away).
From there, hikers will follow a well-marked path that leads through a beautiful forest. As hikers continue along the trail, they will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the glacier and the surrounding mountains.
|Morteratsch, Abzweigung (20 minutes)
Local Attractions Near Morteratsch Glacier Hike
Aside from the Morteratsch Glacier hike, there are plenty of other attractions in the area that visitors can explore. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- Diavolezza – Situated near the Morteratsch Glacier, Diavolezza Mountain provides stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. You can reach the summit via a cable car and savor a drink or meal at the mountain restaurant, all while taking in the magnificent scenery.
- St. Moritz – St. Moritz is a renowned mountain resort, celebrated for its upscale hotels and luxury shopping. Tourists flock here from around the globe to enjoy leisurely walks on charming streets, relax in the renowned mineral baths, and partake in shopping sprees at the numerous designer boutiques.
- Bernina Express – The Bernina Express is renowned as one of the world’s most picturesque train rides, taking travelers through the Swiss Alps, with breathtaking views of glaciers, valleys, and mountains. It starts in Chur and ends in Tirano, Italy.
- Pontresina – Pontresina is a charming town near Morteratsch Glacier known for its natural beauty, large Ibex colony, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Visitors can take a funicular up Muottas Muragl to enjoy the panoramic views of the Upper Engadine Valley and its numerous lakes.
Final Thoughts: The Morteratsch Glacier Hike
The Morteratsch Glacier hike is a stunning experience, particularly in the autumn. It is a fantastic experience for hikers of all levels. The trail can be completed in a few hours, offering a perfect day trip, and it’s an absolute must-do for anyone exploring the Swiss Alps for a close encounter with the awe-inspiring beauty of nature.
I highly recommend to visit it as soon as possible as the glacier is receding. If you decide to go on the glacier, safety precautions should be taken, and guided tours are recommended for a secure and enjoyable adventure. Visiting it is an absolutely amazing experience you won’t regret.
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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.