Hike the Swiss Alps of St. Moritz and the Engadine Valley


Global Adventure - Hike the Swiss Alps of St. Moritz and the Engadine Valley

Hike with a daypack in the high country of the Engadine Alps in southeastern Switzerland. The many trails of the St. Moritz region offer wonderful hiking and spectacular views, from high mountain meadows to boulder-strewn plateaus, from the forests of the Swiss National Park to the 4000-meter Piz Bernina. Enjoy valley accommodations and tasty food in the evenings. NOTE: THE TRIP PRICE SHOWN BELOW IS THE DEPOSIT ONLY.

  • Sun, Jul 29, 2018 — Sat, Aug 11, 2018
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Global Adventures, Day Hiking, Backpacking
  • Adults
  • Moderate/Strenuous
  • Moderate

Arrive in Zürich, Switzerland no later than the afternoon of Sunday, July 29, 2018. We’ll transfer to the town of Scuol in the lower Engadine Valley on Monday, July 30. On Saturday, August 4 we’ll hike and bus to the town of Zernez in the middle valley area, and on Monday, August 6 we’ll move to our final location at Samedan, near St. Moritz in the upper valley. On Saturday, August 11 we will return to Zürich by train, where on Sunday participants can take flights home, or proceed on their own to other explorations.

Itinerary Highlights:    

This two-week trip will offer the experience of high-elevation hiking with a daypack on established trails in the beautiful Engadine region. The Engadine Valley is located in the Alps of southeastern Switzerland. It is named for the River En, which becomes the Inn (of Innsbruck) when it enters Austria, and eventually flows into the Danube. The Engadine has a wonderful blend of Germanic, Italian, and Romansch culture and cuisine, which we will experience during our trip.

Our trip will begin in Zürich, the banking center and largest city in Switzerland. On July 29th we’ll meet at the hotel in the city, have some time to tour (individually or together) in the old town, and stay the night. The next day we will travel 2-1/2 hours by train to the spa town of Scuol in the lower Engadine Valley, which will be our base for several days. From Scuol there are several moderate hikes that we can take to scenic viewpoints or passes, and perhaps on one we can reach the Italian border. We’ll be in Scuol for the Aug. 1 celebrations of Swiss National Day.

The next several days, August 2-4, will be a change of pace. We’ll string together three days and two nights in a continuing journey or mini-trek in the mountains. We’ll send our luggage ahead to our next valley town (Zernez) while we carry what we need for the 3 days and hike up to a Swiss Alpine Club hut that sits on a high promontory at 8200 feet. We’ll stay overnight there, and the next day we’ll hike to above 9000 feet, where we can explore a lunar landscape on a high plateau. Dropping down, we’ll stay the night in a mountain valley inn in a tiny village that was formerly a mining settlement.

On Aug. 4 the group will hike up-valley from the inn, then over a high pass, and down to a highway where we can catch a bus to the town of Zernez in the middle portion of the valley, and be reunited with our luggage. From Zernez we can bus to a trailhead for a hike in the Swiss National Park. On Aug. 6 we’ll take a train or bus to the upper Engadine valley, to the town of Samedan. Samedan is near to St. Moritz, but with better prices and fewer crowds.

From this point we will be in the highest areas of the valley. Each day we’ll take buses or trains to our hike location. Most days we will take a cablecar or funicular or chairlift to skip the low-level switch-backing and begin our hikes at 7 or 8,000 feet. We’ll hike in a wonderful land high above the valley, with breathtaking views of the picturesque valley and its surrounding mountains. Many days we’ll have views of the amazing glacier-clad massif of Piz Bernina and its satellite peaks. The trails will cross alpine meadows and rock slopes; reach high, icy tarns and high passes; and a high peak or two. And on August 11 we’ll board a scenic mountain train for our return to Zürich, where we’ll stay in the same hotel and next day depart for home or to other adventures.

NOTES:  As with any extended travel, but particularly in an area with changeable mountain weather and trail conditions, our itinerary can change without notice, and sections may be modified or substituted. The priority will always be on safety for all participants. 

Explanation of trip ratings:

Difficulty Rating: Moderate-Strenuous. See Club Hiking/Backpacking Difficulty Ratings (for an average day of a trip):

Trip Statistics: This outing is designed to be a mix of moderate and strenuous hiking, and most days will reach a high point or travel some distance at elevations over 8,000 feet. Hikes are of 3.7–8.7 miles in length (ave. 6 miles), with an elevation gain of 1000–3400 feet (ave. 1900 feet) [the hikes as currently planned are subject to change]

Leader Rating: Moderate. Average pace of 1.5–2 mph, an overnight segment,  some route or environmental challenges (rough trail, steep terrain, etc.)

Time of Year:   We travel to the Engadine during late July–early August, during some of the warmest weather of the year in the region. The temperature in the valley towns ranges from the 60s and low 70s during the day, to 40s and low 50s at night; but the temperature in the high areas, passes and huts can be considerably colder, to below freezing with wind! (Weather in the Alps is notoriously fickle, even in summer, so participants must be prepared for a variety of conditions at all times.) The region also receives its greatest precipitation during the summer months, but days are long, sunbreaks can be expected even on rainy days, and the July-to-early-September “high season” is considered to have the best weather for a visit.

Lodging:   This trip will give participants the opportunity to experience several types of lodging. We’ll stay twelve nights in comfortable hotels in the valley, in two-person rooms with private WC and shower. We’ll spend one night in a mountain village inn (with shared bathroom and shower facilities down the hall) and limited amenities. We’ll also spend one night in a mountain hut in a dormitory-style co-ed room: we’ll sleep in sleep-sacks under wool blankets on side-by-side two-tier bunks or on mattresses laid side-by side on the floor, and have relatively basic facilities without shower. Gratuities for the hotels are included in the trip price.

Food:   Hearty breakfasts and dinners are included on all of our trail days. Participants will be responsible for dinners in Zürich, and for lunches and drinks everywhere. There will be the option to purchase sack lunches for the trail at some of our hotels, or from town shops, though we may also stop at trailside cafés and huts for a meal or coffee/tea and snack where available.

Leader’s Experience:   Richard Rutz has hiked and traveled in Europe many times, particularly in the alpine areas of Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, and Liechtenstein. He has planned and led a number of private multi-day hiking and backpacking trips in Austria and Switzerland, and in the Cascades, Olympic and Rocky mountains. A backpacking leader for The Mountaineers, he is also a member of the Austrian Alpine Club, and has a working familiarity with German.

Participant Requirements:   This outing is designed to be a mix of moderate and strenuous hiking, and includes some hiking and rugged terrain (possibly including some steep moraine and scree slopes), and most days will reach a high point or travel some distance at elevations over 8,000 feet. A trekking pole(s) is required.

Participants must be:

  • - a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file.
  • - in excellent aerobic condition with good balance.
  • - in good medical condition, able to ascend to 8-10,000 feet elevation.
  • - confident when traveling on rough, sometimes exposed trail with a daypack.
  • - able to cross short sections of snow or walk on steep trail segments.
  • - able to navigate on trails with a map and compass.

Participants must have:

  • - the experience and willingness to deal with some cold or inclement weather, perhaps for up to several hours.
  • - recent experience with strenuous or multi-day backpacking or mountain hiking.
  • - a positive attitude and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups.

Note: As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe. You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers.

Trip Price Detail:   Switzerland has always been pricey, but this cost of $3,200.00 includes all lodging and hotel gratuities, half-board meals (breakfast and dinner), and transportation (trains, buses, cablecars, funiculars, and chairlifts where part of the main itinerary) during the trip. Your airfare (~$1300), commuter train travel between Zürich and Zürich airport, travel insurance ($75-350), 2 dinner meals in Zürich (~$60-120 total), maps (~$70) or GPS, and all lunches and drinks are not included. If fewer than eight people register, price may be adjusted upward slightly. International medical and emergency evacuation insurance are required for each participant.

Registration Instructions:   Please complete the online application form, click "submit", and it will be sent to the leader. After the leader’s approval, please register and pay the 50% deposit ($1600.00) in order to hold your space on the roster, and complete and sign the online Global Adventures Liability Release. Registration will close on March 31, 2018 or whenever the roster fills. A place on the roster can only be held with payment of the deposit. The balance of the trip payment is due by May 18, 2018.

application          release

Cancellation Policy:   If you cancel because of an emergency, you may receive a refund less expenses incurred and a $100 administrative fee.


Hike the Swiss Alps of St. Moritz and the Engadine Valley

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.


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