Via Alta Vallemaggia

A linear trekking route for expert excursionists running from the blue waters of Lake Maggiore through a challenging Alpine landscape of rock and scree with some airy sections.

On this trek, you will spend almost a week away from any village or dwelling, with no roads, cable cars, artificial lakes, antennas or high-voltage lines to spoil your experience of the great outdoors. The chamois trekking route skirts one of the most pristine mountain ranges in the Swiss Alps. This five-day trek characterised by continuous ups and downs starts at Cimetta above Cardada – a popular tourist destination close to Locarno – and takes you all the way to the foot of the Ticino’s landmark mountain Pizzo Campo Tencia. The entire route remains at a high altitude, with refuges along the way all situated at around 2,000 metres, enabling you to enjoy the landscape without excessive height differences.

This is chamois territory, characterised by an alternating landscape of grass and rock, scree and pastures, plateaus and cliffs. Here and there your will come across a little lake or a peat bog, and around the corner a small group of goats as fearless as they are curious. Sometimes you will stumble upon an abandoned mountain cowherd’s hut, reminding you that in the past people did not climb up here just for the fun of it.

The four mountain refuges along the trekking route are more than just pit-stops: they are highlights in their own right – old buildings that have been painstakingly restored or groups of mountain huts that have been turned into scattered accommodation. Blending perfectly into the surrounding landscape with their traditional rural architecture, they are spacious, comfortable and well appointed on the inside. With no warden present, guests are invited to cook for themselves in the company of fellow mountain enthusiasts. At the end of the third day, you will spend the night at a modern lodge, namely Capanna Tomeo, where you will be pampered by the wardens before tackling the two final stages that will take you to Fusio.

Alternatively, you could divide the first stage into two parts, spending the first night at Alpe Nimi. As well as offering accommodation, this small working farm gives you a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the century-old tradition of pastoral farming.

Route characteristics

  • Alpine meadows, rocks and ridges
  • Mostly unmanned traditional mountain huts
  • Route requires good physical condition and familiarity with the Alpine environment
  • Some slightly exposed sections
  • Maximum difficulty rating: T5– 
  • Recommended time of year: between mid July and end of September

How to get there

  • Departure: Cimetta (Cardada)
  • Arrival: Fusio