Understanding the ALPSinsight Runs

Ueli Steck on the Zinal Rothorn during his 82 Summits project

We’ve done each run on this site, start to finish, checked and rechecked, and considered how to make it better. Just because there is a hiking trail in an amazing landscape does not necessarily make it good for running. So we look at trail quality, the terrain features you’ll move through, the direction for the best views, try to make the climb steep and the descent flowing, and noted how best to simplify the logistics of where to start and finish.

While the vast majority of the runs are to-do list objectives, some satisfy different needs. We’ve included a few regional must-do’s to the mini-guides so if you’re staying in one place for a while you’ll have a good option for an easier or rainy day run.

Each run includes the stats, a summary of what it’s all about, some tips, the starting point, and photos to show how it all looks. GPX Tracks are available to purchase for each run either as individual downloads or as part of a regional collection.

The Runs Map

All the Runs are visible on one map. If you are unfamiliar with the Alps but know where you'll be visiting, you can see what's nearby. Visit the Runs Map.


The ALPSinsight runs are searchable by canton in Switzerland. A canton is like a state, and there are 26. We've primarily focused on the higher mountain regions of Switzerland, and offer mini-guides to the three premier trail running cantons: Valais, Graubünden, and the Berner Oberland. For more information about the Swiss regions, visit our Swiss Alps mountain region page.

You can also search for runs in France and Italy as we've produced a mini-guide for the Chamonix Mont-Blanc region.

Run Page Icons

Each run includes a strip of icons detailing distance (→), vertical gain (↑), high point (Δ), difficulty (♦), and if the route is a point to point, out & back or loop (Θ). Also for a loop, which direction we recommend. Way Up runs are designated (⇑).

Swiss Wanderweg signs

Understanding the Swiss trail signs is important for getting around the Alps


We consider a variety of factors to assign a difficulty level to a run: distance, vertical gain, technicality, remoteness, exposure, and support available en route. The ratings come down to our opinions - these things are relative. Dan's Easy run might be your WTF was that?! That's why the rest of us get some say in the rating as well.

Easy: These runs stick to yellow signposted routes or red & white painted markers that are easy to follow. They are typically shorter and with less vertical gain than other runs. Footing is generally smoother, but still on mountain trail. There are typically huts, fountains, and infrastructure along the way.

Medium: They follow yellow signposted routes, red & white, and blue & white painted markers, or sometimes need to be navigated by cairns. They usually have long sections of smooth running, but can have some technical footing, and occasionally pass into easier alpine areas that may be exposed with danger of falling, loose scree, cables and ladders, or light scrambling.

Difficult: These trails may also include sections of blue & white marked routes or need to be navigated by cairns. Sure-footedness is necessary here. The trails are more technical and exposed sections present the danger of falling. The route can cross loose scree, steep slopes, or glacier, and may require the use of cables or ladders and scrambling. These runs can be long, have big elevation gain, and take you to wilder, remote areas without an easy way to bail. Sudden change in the weather can make the route difficult. Good judgement and alpine experience are a must.

The Way Up

The Way Up is our name for peak running, or, running huge vertical that typically includes a summit. You can read all about it at The Way Up Concept. The ratings we use need some explaining because they differ from our All Runs rating and are only relative to other Way Up Runs.

Way Ups are designated with the ⇑ symbol and rated with:

  • The Run rating if it is also a Run (Easy, Medium, Difficult)
  • A Way Up rating preceded with the ⇑ symbol (Easy, Medium, Difficult, Extreme)
  • The alpine grade, if applicable.

A Way Up Run will be characterized as Difficult within the All Runs category, but will have a separate rating within the Way Ups. As an example, the Barrhorn, which is both a Run and Way Up, would be rated ♦Difficult/⇑Easy. It's a Difficult Run but an Easy Way Up.

Beyond Easy/Medium/Difficult, some Way Ups may have an Extreme rating.

Extreme: This one is going to be used very sparingly, but it is used (See Eiger West Flank), and needs to make it clear that not all these runs are just running. They might include technical climbing with serious consequences if there is a fall. These climbs may include a trail running approach and/or descent.

The Eiger West Flank is ⇑Extreme/AD, it's not categorized as a Run, it is an Extreme Way Up with an alpine grade of AD.

GPX Tracks

All the Runs and Way Ups are available as individual GPX Track purchases, or if they are in a Mini-Guide, available as part of the collection.

The Book Run GPX tracks are available to book buyers only and can be downloaded individually or as a collection.

Visit our GPX Track Shop for all downloads.


Anyone undertaking the runs on this site is solely responsible for their own safety, and should exercise good mountain judgement, undertake thorough route research, be physically and mentally ready for the challenges, properly equipped, and should be ready to turn back if conditions become more demanding than their abilities can handle.