When you tell someone you’re headed to the Swiss Alps for the summer the general assumption is that you’re going for the mountain peaks. That’s not untrue, but the Alps offer up more than summits! I first found the gorges [aptly named “Les Gorges”] on a rainy day last time I was here…they’re kind of a perfect rainy day hike. However, they’ve become one of my favorite hikes near the chalet, even on the sunny days! Let me tell you why…
Once you get to the gorges, it’s an easy hike. But getting to the gorges from Chalet Martin in Gryon can be a little interesting. You get a few options — down a steep, narrow trail or along the “low road” or up/down the paved road. Whichever way you go, you have to go downhill to get to the valley + back uphill to return to the hostel. Shocker, I know!
Les Gorges // Les Plans – Frenieres, Switzerland
The best part of the gorges is right in the beginning, in my humble opinion. There is a small waterfall, just big enough to be more than a rapid, surrounded by lush green trees + rocks slick with wet mosses. Everything is damp + slippery. The trees are bursting with fluorescent leaves atop branches draped in deep green moss. The crashing waterfall makes it noisy, yet it’s incredibly peaceful. It’s my happy place along the gorges + my go-to lunch stop, even if I always end up with a wet bum from sitting on the rocks!
The second best part of the Les Gorges hike is the ravine. Near the top, as you near Les Plans you’ll cross a bridge over the river. Stop + stare down [but keep your mouth shut, because spiders!] at the ravine below you! Across the river the path with dump you down into the ravine where the rock is cut out. This part looks cool…but it sounds even cooler! The crashing + smashing of the river echoes off the sheer rock cliffs around you so you have no choice but to shut up + listen!
Your final bout of warm fuzzies will come when you leave the river behind. You’ll get a chance to start hiking through the meadows + tiny towns. I mean, you could stick to the river + do a literal out/back trek, but I’d strongly recommend kicking out to the paths + road along the mountain villages. You’ll walk among traditional chalets with the alps towering all around you. In the spring you’ll find meadows of wildflowers. Come summer it’ll be pastures of cows, goats or sheep with tinkling bells.
Wander along, but pause to just gaze around you. Soak up all that peace of a remote mountain village. Say hi to the locals working on their chalets or lounging on their balconies. Take a hot second to be truly amazed by the valley they call home.
The hike through Les Gorges doesn’t offer exposed trail or summit selfies, but it’s still a worthy adventure. From Chalet Martin it’ll take you a few hours + get you roughly 13 miles round trip. Even if you’re taking the road on a rainy day [crazy steep trails + rain = slick mud]…do it. Honestly, in the three times I’ve done this hike in the past two weeks [yea, I need to branch out] the only bit I haven’t loved is the final stretch through Gryon up to the chalet. It’s about a mile of uphill village streets with food waiting at the end. It takes forever!
Basically…when you’re out + about don’t write off a hike just because it doesn’t get you the adrenaline rush you’re used to seeking out. There is something beautiful + fulfilling about a day of meandering along a river. Just saying.