Entering the Lötschental you might feel a bit like set back in time. The roads are lined by old wooden houses, no big concrete blocks in sight. The view leads until far away to the back, whith a glacier closing the mighty magic valley at the end.
4 villages form the Lötschental, Ferden, Kippel, Wiler and Blatten, all of them independent municipalities and each owning some parts of the precious treasures this valley has to offer. Tourism started to grow here later than in most other regions, due to the late building of the main road connecting the valley with the rest of Valais.
The Lötschental got the side name of the magic valley and exploring this amazing place for a while will explain why.
Most people come here in the winter, populating the Lauchernalp, a little alpine village in the Wiler region up at 1900-2000m, accessible by cable car in the winter and an additional (non-public) road in the summer.
The Lauchernalp is the ski resort of the Lötschental, actually the 7th highest in Switzerland with the top station at 3111m. Nevertheless it still is a small cosy resort with just a few lifts and slopes, but vast possibilities of freeriding and ski touring.
You won't find big hotels or other city like buildings up here, the Lauchernalp remained its dreamy familial character with Valais chalet style huts and houses nuzzling into the mountain side. Most accomodations are appartments and chalets, only two hotels can be found up here.
In summer season only the cable car from Wiler to Lauchernalp is running, all other lifts are closed, which makes the Lauchernalp a hiking paradise.
Starting from Lauchernalp station heading to the left, the first stop is the tiny village of Hockenalp, with just a couple old wooden huts and a little chapel, that is a popular photo spot. The King of the Lötschental, the Bietschhorn, a mighty pyramid shaped peak reigning over the valley at 3934m, sits right behind the chapel from here.
You can either just keep wandering around these beautiful mountain sides (which you could do for hours and hours, as sweeping as they are) or consider hitting some more spots spread over the tremendous landscapes.
A couple hours hike further uphill will take you to the Lötschenpasshütte, a wonderful mountain hut at 2690m. Beat, Andrea and team will warmly welcome you and provide homemade food and cosy bedrooms for those who'd like to stay overnight. The hut lies amidst the rough rocky landscape of the Lötschenpass, which connects the Lötschental and Kandersteg, the massive Balmhorn dominating the panorama.
All around the hut you'll find a bunch of little ponds and lakes filled with crystal clear water, as well as one bigger lake, the Lötschbergsee at 2596m, with its deep turquois water giving a high contrast to the greyish archaic landscapes around it.
The Lötschenpasshütte is open in summer accessible with an 2-3 hour hike, in winter season the easiest way leads from the top station of the ski resort (Hockenhorngrat) with either ski or snowshoes. If you'd like to go in the winter time, contact the hut before you go, just to make sure the trail is made and accessible. Some of the areas crossing this path are at high avalanche risk depending the weather conditions.
From Lauchernalp station heading to the right you will follow the Lötschentaler Höhenweg, one of the most popular hiking trails. It leads thru the whole valley at an average altitude of 2000m, with the most frequented part starting here. You will pass a lot of old sunburnt wooden huts, meadows, sheep, goats and cows browsing around, the mighty Bietschhorn guarding you along the way.
About 1-1.5 hours of hiking takes you to the Schwarzsee, a stunning mountain lake flanked by a steep slope on the one side and opening up a gorgeous panorama to the other side, with the Bietschhorn reflecting in the deep dark water.
It is a popular spot to hang around on hot summer days, swimming is allowed, as well as barbecueing at one of the premade fireplaces. Before you lit a fire, be sure it is not wildfire season and making fires is allowed and please clean up well after yourself.
Heading further down the trail you get to the Fafleralp, the epitome of typical mountain beauty. In summer, it also is accessible by the main road, which ends here.
At the Fafleralp you will find the Hotel Fafleralp, a beautiful hotel and restaurant consisting of various buildings and huts that offer everthing from simple dorms to stylish rooms with sauna or bubble bath. Tatjana, Sasha and team will take very good care of you with delicious homemade food and drinks and hearty hospitality.
If you would like to visit in winter, they will pick you up with a snowmobile in Blatten, since the road is closed and serves as a winter hiking and cross country skiing trail.
At the big Fafleralp parking lot you will also find a campsite and a kiosk, which also offers good food and drinks and a little playground for kids.
But the real exciting playground is just about to come!
Starting from the Fafleralp you're about to enter one of the most wonderful wilderness beauties you have ever seen. Especially in autumn loads of photographers are roaming this area in hunt for the best shot, since the Lötschental nature is famous for its bright colorful fall festival.
The whole area is actually the forefield of the Langglacier, the glacier dominating the close of the valley. Just about 15mn past the parking lot you will get to the Grundsee, a crystal clear mountain lake. A popular destination in the summer to relax you can even swim in this lake, but be warned, it is very very cold! And, as usual, whatever you bring with you, also take it back with you!
Leaving Grundsee and advancing further into the glacier forefield you will find all kinds of natural jewels along the way, beautiful mountain flora such as alpine roses and blueberry bushes, as well as lots of crooked pine trees telling tales about bygone avalanches.
Bridges take you over the Lonza, the main creek/river of the Lötschental, a couple times and the further you're approaching the Langglacier, the wilder the creek gets.
After about 2 hours hike the trail splits in two and I recommend taking the path to the right. The tongue of the glacier appears pretty much right next to the trail and the view is just mesmerizing. The trail leads thru colorful giant rocks, smoothed by the ice of the glacier, at some points secured with tag lines attached to the rocks.
The Langglacier is famous for building huge portals from time to time, the last big one in 2011. There always are a few small ones, but I would not recommend to enter those, especially not in summer, as there always are rock and mud slides from the sides of the moraines.
At the end of this rock field the trail leads uphill to the left but not without giving you a glance of the rendevouz of Langglacier and Anunglacier, which flows down from the left merging into the Langglacier.
Following the path to the left takes you to the Anenhütte, passing the Anusee, another little mountain lake at 2367m.
The plateau around the hut opens up an enormous panorama over the whole Lötschental, I could sit here for hours and just watch the stunning show, frameless TV free of ads made by Mother Nature.
Heading back there are mainly two options, either follow the paths to the left, which will take you back to trails you took up here. The trails to the right lead through even more wonderful landscapes, passing the Guggisee at about 2000m, just another mountain lake of the magic valley.
Did you know there are over 10 mountain lakes in Lötschental? If you would like to visit some of them, I can recommend the 5 lake tour, a trail that takes you to Grundsee, Guggisee, Faflersee, Blauseeli and Schwarzsee.
From Guggisee the path will take you thru the Guggialp, another little mountain side with sunburnt wooden huts and grazing cows. About 30mn later you will return to the parking lot at Fafleralp, stuffed up with loads of impressions and wonderful memories.
One more thing about the Magic Valley... the Tschäggättä. Crawling out at night every year during fasnacht season (Maria Lightmess to Shrove Tuesday) these creepy furry creatures are out to get you! The Tschäggättä are a proudly cherished ancient tradition, the roots are not completely clear until today. Nevertheless, if you ever wanted to see something you cannot see anywhere else in the world, this is it. The Tschäggättä come out every day except Sundays as soon as it gets dark and then roam the streets, bars and restaurants. There also are two parades, the Tschäggättä run, with around 100 Tschäggättä hopping thru the whole valley from Blatten to Ferden, and the carnival parade two days later in Wiler, where the Tschäggättä join the typical carnival wagons and people. Definitely a must-see!
How to get there
From Valais follow the road from Gampel towards Goppenstein/Lötschental. From all other regions take the car train from Kandersteg to Goppenstein.