Mettelhorn ⇑

Mettelhorn: A Zermatt classic with big mountain views

All trail from Zermatt into the alpine world   

→ 21km

↑ 2176m

Δ 3405M 


⇑ Medium

Θ CW Loop

Big vertical days don't get much better than this. 

We took the first train from Täsch to Zermatt in the morning to have the trails nearly to ourselves as the sun rises. The climb out of town is steep, passing the first 1000 meters in under 4km. You finally get a break from the vertical on the Matterhorn Panoramaweg, a smooth single track traverse that may well be the best single piece of running trail in the Alps. With the Matterhorn at your back, you'll turn a corner enjoy a playful 350 meter drop to the Trift Hotel. From Trift, it's time for the next 1000 meter climb!

Not as steep as the first section, you wander through grazing sheep and up to the pass below the Platthorn. Crossing an old glacial snowfield, you end up at the rising rocky climb to the top of the Mettelhorn. Short and super steep.

From the top, and through much of the day, you're surrounded by views of the big peaks surrounding Zermatt;  Ober Gabelhorn, Zinalrothorn, Weisshorn, Dom and of course the Matterhorn.

To descend, head back the way you came, but once back in the grassy meadows you'll take the first junction towards the Wisshorn (following signs for Zermatt) for long, fast switchback running before a steep drop right to the Zermatt Bahnhoff. Or if you want the most direct line down, or are in urgent need of a good meal, drop back the way you came up to the Trift Mountain Hotel and follow the trail all the way down through the canyon.

Schafbärg is a similar Way Up to do next, all on trail. Or if you want a more technical challenge, go for La Ruinette.

Learn more about the skills necessary to run Way Ups with ALPSinsight's Education pages for Mountain Running and Mountain Sport Fitness.

Detailed GPX Track

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GPX Track
Start:  46.024354, 7.748604
Town:  Zermatt
Canton:  Valais
Country:  Switzerland

  • Microspikes are potentially useful for the short glacier crossing just below the summit. While the snow is often soft enough to cross without traction in the summer months, on colder days the area can be icy.
  • The Mettelhorn is typically done from the Trift Hotel as a base over 2-3 days. While we suggest going in 1 push from Zermatt, Trift is still worth a stop, especially for their homemade ice tea.
  • The Mettelhorn is also the bonus peak for the final stage of the Via Valais. It's a big add on after 9 Stages, but worthy to go back for all on it's own.

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The relentless climb from town finally relents. After 1000 meters of steep in just 4km, it's time to run.


The Matterhorn Panoramaweg is well named and is one of the best running trails in the Alps. 


The Matterhorn Panoramaweg ends with a  few hundred meter drop to the Trift Hotel, and a change of view from the Matterhorn to the Ober Gabelhorn and Zinalrothorn. The Trift Hotel, just visible to the right of the runner, sits alongside the river in the flats and serves as a refueling station before the next 1000 meter climb to the Mettelhorn.


Trading grassy trails for alpine running terrain.


Approaching the 3405 meter Mettelhorn summit. That's it- that dark nub. It may not be the most stunning summit, but the journey to it is one of the very best.


Steep to the top.


The final tight switchbacks to the top of the Mettelhorn. Tough going up, but you know they'll be a fast and fun descent.


Back in the grass and the start of 1000 meters more dowhill on the Wisshorn descent to Zermatt.

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Comments 3

  1. The Mettelhorn/Platthorn trail (the twin summits are above 3’400 m.) is worth the trip. A panoramic, and rather “vertical” trail run, especially if you start from Zermatt passing by Restaurant Edelweiss which is shorter but you’ll miss the open, panoramic view on the Matterhorn from Höhbalmen. Thank you Dan for prompting that one with fantastic pictures. The run (https://www.strava.com/activities/2601733150) was up to the expectations created by the pictures: snowfields, glacial lake, brown, grey or dark rocks depending on your altitude … highly recommended ! Christophe

  2. Hallo, was ist die Schwierigkeit beim Mettelhorn-Trail? Gibt es viele ausgesetzte Stellen ab dem Hotel Trift?

    1. It is all on trail and easy walking. There is a short section of glacier to cross but it is quite flat and in the last years no issue of crevasses. In late summer it can become ice but is standard to cross without crampons.

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