After this interesting experience of Belalp during a grey and snowy day, I returned a few more times later this winter to find perfect sunny winter days under a deep blue sky and a snow depth of 198cm (6.5ft). I could not ask for better conditions for photography as well as for snowshoe hiking tours.
Belalp features a few good snowshoe trails. As a word of caution, these trails are well marked, but not groomed. Snowshoes are highly recommended and the level of difficulty of the trail is highly dependent on the amount of fresh snow.
From the top station of the Belalp aerial cable car on 2096m (6850ft), the winter walking trail is almost flat as far as
Aletschbord on a well groomed and wide trail without any special difficulties. Good walking boots are enough for this first part. This trail passes between wooden chalets with impressive thick layers of snow on the roofs. Beside a charming small church, Aletschbord gives the visitor an impressive view over the Aletsch Glacier which is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Depending on the needed physical conditions as well as proper snowshoe equipment, the visitor can take either the Tyndall-Trail climbing up to Hohbiel on 2680m (8800ft) or the Holzji-Trail to Blatten on 1329m (4360ft).
This steep trail above the forest is open terrain with untouched fields of snow with an impressive view on eighteen mountains in the Swiss Alps known as the “4’000s”. These mountains higher than 4000m (13’124ft), include the famous Matterhorn above Zermatt. The trail passes the Memorial of John Tyndall, a British scientist from the 19th century who elected Belalp as his summer residence, before reaching Hohbiel. From there, a comfortable chair lift brings one back to Belalp within walking distance from the top station of the Belalp cable car.
This is definitely the trail for nature lovers not to miss. This trail starts right below the Hotel Belalp on Aletschbord and quickly enters the forest. Walking through a forest freshly covered with snow is a unique experience. Clean fresh air fills the atmosphere. The shadowed light in the forest gives some relief from the harsh sunlight on the snow-covered landscape. Apart from the noise of one’s own footsteps, it is almost silent. Walking close to the edge of the forest, one can frequently get a glimpse on the Aletsch Glacier below. The experience is close to how one imagines a winter fairytale. Once out of the forest, the trail crosses some clearings with a few wooden chalets powdered with untouched snow before reaching the little village of Egga which seems to be inhabited even at this time of the year. The walk continues mainly through forest until one reaches Blatten.
Belalp is truly a winter jewel tucked away in the Upper Valais, overlooked by visitors going to much better known resorts. I am glad I returned to the village after the first visit during the Belalp Hexe witch ski competition in mid-January. Now I have discovered the secrets of Belap hidden in the deep snows of winter.
If interested in visiting this magical place, do not hesitate to contact the friendly and helpful staff of Belalp Tourism office in Blatten which is located right at the bottom station of the cable car up to magical Belalp.