This beautiful trail, showcasing the peaks rising along the east and south sides of the Arolla Valley, leads to a pass on a rugged ridge with fine vistas of the Glacier de Cheilon flowing down the Val des Dix, Mont Blanc de Cheilon and Le Pleureur.
Arolla to Col de Riedmatten
In the the small village of Arolla, find the hiking signs on the west side of the town square (across from the bus stop). Walk southwest toward Pas de Chevres (2-hr 30-min) and Col de Riedmatten (2-hr 40-min).
At the first hairpin curve in the road, about 100 yards from the signpost, leave the road and continue along a track heading south/southwest. Follow the track as it switchbacks up a wooded hillside on moderate grades. At 0.3 miles pass a sign for the trail to Pra Gra and the Aiguilles Rouges branching to the right (north/northwest). Our trail goes left (southwest) toward the Pas de Chevres and Col de Riedmatten.
Follow the trail as it passes a few building and then skirts the north side of the Grand Hotel Kurhaus. Beyond the hotel the trail curves to the left, ascending west/southwest on moderately-steep grades up the Montagne d'Arolla valley. Openings in the trees offer intermittent views of the glaciers spilling down the rugged slopes of the Pigne d'Arolla to the south.
Ignore the trail at 0.6 miles branching left (south) toward the Cabane Vignettes. At 0.75 miles our trail turns left (southwest) on a road. After traveling a short distance along the road reach a trail junction near a restaurant. Turn right (west) toward Col de Riedmatten and Pas de Chevres.
The trail now climbs moderately steep switchbacks through meadows with grand views of Pigne d'Arolla. Mont Colon towers above the head of the Arolla Valley to the southeast. At 1.3 miles the trail curves to the left (southwest) and ascends steeply to meet a dirt road at the signed junction of Remointse d'Arolla at 1.5 miles.
Cross the road and continue traveling southwest on a trail that pass to the right (north) of the photogenic ruins of a few old stone buildings. Signs near the ruins point to Pas de Chevre (1-hr 35-min), Col de Riedmatten (1-hr 30-min) and Barrage Dix (Dix Dam: 4-hr 35-min).
Beyond the ruins the trail heads west/southwest on moderately-easy grades through rocky meadows sprinkled with wildflowers along the base of Mont Collon and the rugged crags to the north of the trail. Red and white blazes on rocks keep you on track. To the east (behind you) the jagged peaks towering above the east side of the Arolla Valley, including Dent d'Perroc, Pointe des Genevois and Aiguille de la Tsa, fill the skyline. To the south are splendid views of the glaciers cascading down the flanks of the Pigne d'Arolla massif.
Cross a wood bridge over the creek draining the cirque to the north at 2.5 miles. Soon the grade steepens as the trail starts ascending along the north side of the valley. As the path curves to the right (north), views open to the Pas de Chevres, a saddle on the ridge at the head of the valley.
Reach a junction at 3.2 miles. Here the trail to Pas de Chevres splits off to the left (west). We continue heading north climbing very steeply up rocky meadows toward the Col de Riedmatten. Soon the trail curves to the west, crosses a scree covered slope and then ascends very steep switchbacks to the Col de Riedmatten (9,577-ft.) at 3.6 miles. As you climb watch for chamoix, a goat-like antelope, grazing in the meadows around the pass.
The pass is really just a notch in the ridge. For the best views, climb the ridge to the north of the pass to a knoll. Here panoramic vistas extend south to Mont Blanc de Cheilon rising above the Glacier de Cheilon, a river of ice flowing the flanks of the peak. To the west, La Luette, Le Pleureur and Le Sale fill the skyline. Look carefully across the Cheilon Glacier to see the Cabane des Dix (hut) sitting atop a rocky knob. To the southeast, Mont Collon and the Bouquetins massif dominate the view. On a clear day the top of the Matterhorn graces the horizon.
From the Col de Riedmatten, a narrow, very steep trail drops down to the talus slopes above the lateral moraine along the east side of the Cheilon Glacier. Cables and chains along the upper section of the trail provided a level of security down a very steep slope with poor footing. After the steep drop the trail heads northwest, descending along the moraine and then crosses to the west side of the valley along the bed of the retreating glacier. Note: Rockfall can be an issue on the descent during inclement weather. Before setting out, check current condition in Arolla.
When you are done enjoying the views from the pass/overlook, retrace your steps back to Arolla. Along the way enjoy the wonderful views of the Pigne d' Arolla and the peaks rising along the east side of the Val de Arolla.
Note: Hikers looking for a challenge might want to consider the lollipop loop that visits the Col de Riedmatten and the Pas de Chevres. The clockwise loop descends ladders from the Pas de Chevres to the moraine above the Cheilon Glacier, crosses a boulder field atop the moraine and the climbs to the Col de Riedmatten. For more information see the Pas de Chevres hike.
From Les Hauderes: From the large parking area in front of the Les Hauderes Post, take the bus bound for Arolla and get off at the Arolla Post, the last stop on the bus. The ride takes about 25 minutes.
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