Europe Travel

Hiking Zermatt: 5 Lakes Trail

One of the places we were most excited about visiting on our 2-week trip through Switzerland was Zermatt. Zermatt boasts, of course, the Matterhorn, in all its huge rockface glory. I’ve seen many pictures, but when you’re in that tiny ski town with the Matterhorn hovering over you all day, you realize just how much the pictures can’t do it justice! It is stunning.

View of the Matterhorn from town

We were worried that it was going to rain while we were in Zermatt and we wouldn’t get a chance to see the Matterhorn at all. Well, we took fate in our own hands and left as early as possible to get to Zermatt on the one day we knew it would be sunny. It worked out! Though we saw the Matterhorn the other days we were in town, that first day was absolutely the best. Shows why being flexible when traveling is so important.

So with a perfect view of the Matterhorn how were we going to spend it? There are so many hikes that give brilliant views. After much research, we decided the 5 Lakes Trail would be best. First, who doesn’t want to see five lakes on a beautiful summer day? Second, those lakes act as reflection pools for the Matterhorn and make for ridiculously gorgeous photos.

We set out to find the Sunnegga funicular and then Blauherd cable car that goes up to the start of the 5 lakes trail (5-seenweg). Our AirBnB was not far from the train station and the center of town. The funicular, though, is essentially on the other side of town, so it took us maybe 10-15 minutes to get there. We got our tickets and started the climb up the mountain. The funicular was not particularly interesting — just a rail pulling 40 people up. The cable car was, of course, gorgeous! We were with a few other people heading up the mountain. It’s a pretty long ride with an incredible view.

A lot of people were at the top. We looked for signs for the trail because, as we learned about Switzerland, their trails are always well-marked. The first lake was Stellisee. On our way there, we spotted several Valais Blacknecks – the half-black, half-white mountain goats prevalent in the area. They were so cute!

Stellisee

It wasn’t too far to finally get to the first lake. While Stellisee itself is not that nice looking of a lake, it provides the quintessential Matterhorn reflection. People also chose to take a dip in this lake, as it was ungodly hot at the time.

If you walk just past the lake, there are also some great rocks you can climb up to get a nice shot of the Matterhorn. There really is no shortage of great views up here.

Grindjisee

The next lake took us some time to get to. I know I said the trails are well-marked, but we actually managed to get a little off-trail as we went down and around the mountain. We could see the next lake–Grindjisee–and saw the paved/gravel road to it and then also a tiny path that scaled the mountain. We chose the mountain path. That meant it took longer to get to the lake, but it was much more gorgeous. We also were on the hunt for marmot! Sadly though, no marmot spottings here.

Once we finally wound our way to Grindjisee, we took a break. Grindjsee is the surrounded by pine and other trees and also offers a beautiful reflection of the Matterhorn. We found some shade and had a snack here, thankful we made it in the heat.

Grünsee

Feeling a bit cooled down, we set off for the next lake: Grünsee. We took the gravel road this time because it appeared to be the only way there. Along the way, there were these huge boulders. There was no way we couldn’t try our hand at climbing them. So we took a hike break to get up on some rocks. Neal did some fancy footwork and I shoved my booty up it, too. It looks so much easier than it is…

After climbing a bit, we got back on the trail. We were a bit confused, where was Grünsee? It felt like we had been walking quite far at that point. We came upon some large puddles and thought, could this be it? In case it was, I took some pictures ha! We also spotted a stream and some very beautiful puddles in another area that reminded me of the inkpots we saw in Banff.

Turns out, that little puddle wasn’t Grünsee! No, no, to get to Grünsee, we had to walk through a stream and up the mountain off the gravel trail. Grünsee ended up being quite a deep, beautiful lake.

There were a ton of people swimming and I totally understand why. IT WAS SO HOT. We didn’t bring our suits, but I got in knee-deep and Neal dipped his feet in. It felt amazing. The water wasn’t as cold as it was on some of our other hikes. The view of the Matterhorn on Grünsee isn’t like the other lakes, but it is still really pretty to have in the background.

Moosjisee

We stayed at Grünsee until our body temperatures came down a bit. Our next adventure was to find Moosjisee. This was my favorite part of the whole hike even though Moosjisee didn’t end up being an impressive lake. You hike down through the woods and there’s all these fun shortcuts. Finally you hit a river and go over a bridge to get to the shores of Moosjisee. It’s a man-made lake with a distinctive blue coloring. Again, no reflection here, but the hike down was so fun! We didn’t stay long before heading back up and out.

Moosjisee

Leisee

Our last lake–more than 3 hours later in 95 degree heat–was Leisee. The lake was beckoning us from afar. Almost dead, I dragged myself up (of course we had just come down quite a lot to see Moosjisee!) the hill, through the exposed heat. I told myself I was going to make it. And finally, lo and behold, there was Leisee.

Leisee is at the base of the kids playground area near the Blauherd cable car. There were people here sunbathing. An algae sat on top of the water, giving the lake a bright yellow-orange appearance. Pooped, we enjoyed it for a few minutes and made our way to the cable car.

It took us 4 hours in the blistering heat to find all five lakes, but the views of the Matterhorn were impressive. The weather held out for us and we never lost sight of that massive rock. We had so much fun in the process! This is a must-do in Zermatt, for sure.

Hungry for more? Here’s a slideshow with a few more pictures!

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