• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11.9 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1387.8 Feet

Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Follow the vertigo-inspiring Bisse du Ro above the distant Liène Valley to a secluded alpine lake nestled in the mountain peaks of the southern Bernese Alps.

The trail along the Bisse du Ro has its origins in the 15th-century Swiss villagers who painstakingly carved water canals out of the mountainsides in order to irrigate the farmlands of the Valais. It hugs the cliffs all the way to the Ertentse River, with stunning mountain panoramas across the valley to the west.

To get there, you're headed up into the mountains above Sion. As with most hiking destinations, if you have a vehicle you're in luck. If not, take the train to Sion and then take CarPostal 353 to Crans-s.-S., Zier-Régent. I put the public transportation route from Geneva into Google Maps to help you navigate. The trailhead is just a few hundred metres north of where the bus drops you off and is not hard to find.

Once you set off, the trail curves through the forest on a slight incline for a couple kilometres before reaching the dizzying cliffs that make the route famous. For most of the hike you'll see remnants of the chiseled water canal, but they become most visible and awe-inspiring when you see them hewn out of the bare rock. You'll walk on suspended boards with steel cable railings, sometimes having to duck underneath the cliff face. You'll cross a couple streams and waterfalls that may or may not be significant depending on the time of year. (When I hiked the trail in March, they were frozen solid.)

After another kilometre or so, the rock changes from hard, reliable limestone to loose shale. There are a couple of signs that warn of the possibility of rocks and remind you to keep moving. (Since I was there before the season started, the trail was unmaintained from the winter and was very nearly impassable.) Keep your eyes and ears open and stick to the trail.

Once you reach the valley of the Ertentse River—a good place to refill water—the trail cuts around to the east to avoid dropping in elevation. The eastern end of the valley is where the Bisse du Ro historically began. From here, the trail climbs in elevation up towards the lake. Tree cover diminishes as you enter the elevation of alpine meadows. Watch for wildlife and wildflowers depending on what season you're hiking in!

Find an open, flat place to pitch your tent for the night. According to Lonely Planet Switzerland: "Wild camping is not strictly allowed, although it's viable in the wide-open mountain spaces." Enjoy the afterglow of the sunset on the Pennine Alps to the south and definitely stay awake to gaze at the stars—you're well away from light pollution!

For the return, you can either head back via the same route or descend into the valley and walk along the river. The Bisse du Lens takes you beneath the Bisse du Ro, ending with a steep climb back to the trailhead at Crans-Montana. If you don't feel like coordinating or waiting for the bus, it's not difficult to hitchhike back to Sion.

Finally, if you have any time or energy left when you're back in Sion, take an hour or two to explore its famous hilltop castles.

Pack List

  • Hiking backpack
  • Tent
  • Compass/GPS
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Water bottles
  • Camera
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Trekking poles
  • Hiking boots
  • Headlamp
  • Sunscreen/sunglasses
  • Clothing
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Jonathon Reed Explorer

Adventure-based photographer and videographer. Sunriser.

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