Photo: Lac Bleu and Mont Collon towering in the background.
Up to a beautiful clear lake and along a stunning bit of mountainside high up the Val d’Hérens in Valais.
I did this as a day hike whilst staying in Evolène. I thought this would be a nice walk, but it totally blew me away and was one the best things I did in the area.
Route: La Gouille (Arolla) – Lac Bleu – Evolène.
Length: 15km, +780m, -1240m.
For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.
Season: Spring to Autumn. Going up to the lake from La Gouille is a snowshoe hike in Winter.
Arrival/Departure: Postbus to ‘Arolla, La Gouille’ / Postbus from ‘Evolène, Village’.
Supplies: Food and drink at the Pension du Lac Bleu at the start, then nothing until Evolène which has shops and restaurants.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: Carrying on along the valley to Arolla (5km, +500, -330m) or down to Les Haudères (6.8km, +300, 680m) would be shorter options with much of the same experience.
Exposure/Hazards: Nothing beyond standard mountain path.
- This would be much more scenic (but also much more strenuous) going in the other direction with the highest mountains to the front, but this way was easier to line up the bus at the start and not end up potentially waiting for hours at the other end. There are 6 buses a day between Arolla and which are 1-3 hours apart.
- This was very quiet. I started the day alone at the lake, and it was only close to Evolène at the end that I started to encounter other hikers.
Notes along the route
The bus ride towards Arolla is stunning. Sit on the left side of the bus. This is the less scenic side for the first 5 minutes, but then the road does a hairpin and you get the best view as the bus climbs higher up and swings into the next valley.
There is a pond with fish to admire and restaurant for a refreshment next to the bus stop at La Gouille (Gouille being the local word for pond/lake). The path starts up a gentle little hidden valley for the first few minutes, then the rest of the way up to the lake is short but steep.
Lac Bleu isn’t as filled with fish or as big as its more famous namesake near Kandersteg. It was however free to see, deserted (or was that day anyway, I have heard it can get crowded), fed by a cascading stream that triggers mesmerising ripples across the lake, and in a position to offer fantastic views over glaciated peaks. It must be an especially stunning spot on a clear day in October with the larches turning golden.
The path towards Evolène starts off traversing through lush meadows and forest, and then suddenly turns up and climbs almost to the point of the grass turning to rock. The reason why becomes apparent soon afterwards; the valley the stream has carved below is clearly too steep to even think about a crossing lower down without a bridge.
I took a detour at Les Chottes del’Etoile (Les Chottes being a local word for cow shed) to stay up high with the views for longer. Carrying along to an unnamed cow shed and then looping back down to rejoin the main footpath at Les Mayens de la Cretta. The views along this section were especially good with the Dent Blanche across the valley and the Matterhorn poking up behind it. I just wish it had been infront of me rather than behind me most of the way.
The rest of the way down was through forest before crossing one last meadow to Evolène.