Photo: Looking down the Val Plavna from the Sur Il Foss pass.
A beautiful and very quiet hike up one empty valley and then down another. Done as a day trip from Scuol.
Route: Val Mingèr – Alp Plavna – Tarasp.
Length: 17km, +770m, -1000m.
For more hikes in Switzerland see my list of hikes.
Season: Late spring to Autumn.
Arrival/Departure: Bus from Scuol to ‘Scuol, Val Mingèr’ / Bus from ‘Tarasp, Fontana’ to Scuol. There are buses every 2 hours from Scuol to ‘Scuol, Val Mingèr’ (Direction S-Charl), and hourly from Tarasp back to Scuol. The bus from Scuol to S-Charl is very popular with hikers, so if it is a nice day then there might well be multiple buses running in a convoy to help reduce the squeeze.
Supplies: There is almost along the route. Just a handful of farmhouses until Tarasp. Alp Plavna looked like it might do some basic drinks in season, but was very closed that day.
Alternate routes/shortcuts: At the top of the Val Mingèr rather than dropping down to Val Plavna you can turn left staying up high and over the Fuorcla Val de Botsch to the Ofenpass area where you can get the bus at ‘Stabelchod P8’ to Zernez (14km, +1340, -900m). It looks like it must be an impressive route, but there was not a chance with the snow that day.
Exposure/Hazards: Nothing of note beyond the usual expectations in the mountains.
There was a bit of scramble over snow at times. This was after a very snowy winter and cold Spring so in other years it would likely be clear of snow by that point in June. I had been prepared to turn around and just go up the Val Mingèr and down the same way if need be.
It was very quiet with only a few other hikers out. Not a big surprise for a Friday early in the season.
Notes along the route
Beautiful bus ride up.
Getting off the bus you go straight into the Swiss National Park for a steady and beautiful climb up to the pass. The irony of the national park is that you might find it more crowded than any other bit of the region as it has the draw and the path network is much more limited.
Saw the first marmots of the year at the top of the valley.
There was still a bit of snow to cross at Sur Il Foss at the top of the valley, but it didn’t present much of a problem.
Much more difficult was the bits of snow remaining on the narrower path down into the Val Plavna which had suffered some damage over the winter.
The top part of Val Plavna is very stony. Really really stony. The path is smooth enough to walk on, I just couldn’t get over why the valley didn’t have more grass.
Detour to Alp Laisch in search of cheese. Sadly it was (unsurprisingly) too early in the season for them to be open and in production, but the view was good. Especially of Tarasp castle.
Tarasp has one the most impressive looking castles in Switzerland. It is open to the public (though I doubt many people will want to bother with a historical tour after this hike). It is also a nice spot to wait for the bus with shops and a park.