Lac Derborence Valais Switzerland

The Hidden Valley of Derborence – Hiking Guide

Fun caption at lac de Derborence, valais

The Valley of Derborence  – Why you MUST visit it

Are you ready to discover a hidden piece of paradise on earth? Then this is exactly what the Valley of Derborence is. A hidden gem of the Valais and I would even be as bold as saying of Switzerland. If you, like we are, love being away from it all and feeling totally absorbed in the Nature then this hiking guide to the Valley of Derborence will be a treat for you and your family.

First some facts about Derborence

In 1714 and later on in 1749, two immense landslides occurred from what is today called the Diablerets mountain.
At the time these mountains were called Rochers and Scex de Champ. But as the locals believed the landslides was the work of devil, they renamed it to Diablerets, (Devils Mountains).
Thousands of tons of rocks came crashing downduring these mudslides and formed a dam, resulting in the creation of today’s youngest natural lake in Switzerland.

For a long time, it was believed that the lake was cursed – nature was thus left to its own and was able to reconquer the terrain. Probably the best thing that could have happened to this stunning place.
Today the pristine Valley of Derborence is a nature conservation reserve, a rugged paradise and the region’s scenic highlight.

Beautiful Lac Derborence
Beautiful Lac Derborence, Valais

The Virgin Forest in Derborence

The virgin forest that grew and has intertwined with trees that survived the landslides has become an important part of the Valley of Derborence. Some of the trees in this forest are 600 years old.
The region has grown to an exceptionally rich fauna and has been protected by a 152 km2 hunting exclusion zone which leads to an amazing wildlife area.

Derborence young Forest,
Derborence young Forest, Valais

Wildlife to be seen in Derborence

This place is heaven for all wildlife enthusiast and for the ones that like a bit something special. Valley of Derborence is famous amongst the naturalist for the rare and most beautiful golden eagle. There are 5 or 6 nests in the valley. The forest caretaker like to keep the location of these nests a well preserved secret. But maybe you will be lucky, just always have one eye in the sky and who knows you might see eagle circling just above you.

Furthermore you also may spot the ibex, chamois, deer, marmots and hares and several bird species including the owl,  bearded vulture, partridge, black grouse, raven and alpine chough which have made this most amazing nature reserve their home.

Wildlife at Derborence Valley
Wildlife at Derborence Valley, Valais

How to get to the  Valley of Derborence

The pristine Valley of Derborence is located in central Valais Switzerland and can be reached by car or even with public transport.
From Sion / Conthey it is a 30km drive and will take you about 1hour.
The reason why it will take you so long is the spectacular windy mountain road that leads you all the way twisting along the gorges of the river La Lizerne to paradise.

The Road to Derborence

Be prepared for a jaw dropping journey and, in some places, if you drive with your car you may not even believe that the large yellow Postbus (public transport bus) will pass through here! There are very few laybys and as the road is quite narrow and single file in some places be cautious if you want to take photos. I normally get out of the car and walk quite some sections whilst my family is waiting further along in a safe layby section. This gives me time to make some great pictures without any stress.

This road is amazing during the autumn. But the problem is as it is so amazingly beautiful we want to stop at every corner, and there are many of them, so your journey can take as long as 2 hours. If your family is happy with this and don’t mind to be in the car for so long, then great. If not, remember on the way back where you have not stopped yet and combine the two together.

The road to Derborence,
The road to Derborence, Epic! Valais

Public Transport

Train to Sion, then postal bus to Derborence. Buses run only in summer: daily from late-June to late-September, then weekends until early October. Buses stop at Le Godey en route to Derborence. Check out the timetable

What to do in the Valley of Derborence

Well you do not need to do anything than just enjoy this spectacular hidden gem in Valais Switzerland. But of course, this is a hiking Guide to Derborence and if you are a serious hiking family then you will be spoilt with choices of where to head to.
At the parking lot is a massive sign with all different directions and times. Check them out and make your choice.

Derborence Hiking signes.
Hiking signes. Pick your route. Valais

Family Hike with Older Kids

A great choice is the 7.1 km Loop if your family is well trained and your kids are older. Although it is considered as an easy hike it still takes you over 2h.

Duration:: Minimum 2:15 h
Ascent:: 262 m
Descent:: 262 m

It brings you along the rockslide debris “Tour de l’éboulement des Diablerets” and also along the lake “Tour du Lac de Derborence”.
You will walk through the virgin forest west of the lake. Try to spot the monumental fir trees up to 600 years old. The fauna is spectacular and exceptionally rich in plant species. And if you are a bit quiet, you may be rewarded with some excellent chances of spotting the local wildlife.

Map of the loop hike
Loop Hike 7KM for families with older kids

Family Walk with Younger Kids

Families may prefer to opt for just one of the two tours that form a circuit. Each has a dedicated guide book (free download) with activities for children. A friendly mountain restaurant close to the two main lakes on the circuit offer rest and play stops.

Around the Lake hike
Duration:: maximum 1h
Distance:: 1.3km

If you are there with younger kids or members in your family that are not keen on such a hike you may want to do the 1.3km hike around the lake. There are plenty of spots to stop, take in the nature and maybe even spot some wildlife. You can finish the round at the front lake shore and install your picnic blanket for the day. Something we do regularly and each time we go home super relaxed and full with energy.

Beautiful family Hike around lac Derborence,
Beautiful Family Hike around Lac Derborence, Valais

Refuge du Lac de Derborence

You can actually sleep in this idyllic paradise. The Refuge offers dormitories and a real Valaisanne cuisine.
For more information and reservation contact the Refuge direct.

You may also like the following easy family hikes  in Valais

If you love this hiking guide to Derborence, the Valley  of Wonders of Nature, then PIN IT and share if with a friend.

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20 thoughts on “The Hidden Valley of Derborence – Hiking Guide”

  1. This location is simply stunning. I love that there are different trails to hike that vary in difficulty so that everyone can enjoy it at their own pace! We’d have to stick with the easier hike because of my health condition, but I would LOVE to visit here when we make it to Switzerland!

  2. Such natural beauty! I didn’t know anything about this part of Switzerland, in fact, I’m headed close by next month. Maybe I’ll try to fit this in. The forest is stunning and I love the reflection of the lake.

  3. I always love finding special, hidden gems. Are there a lot of tourists in this area? I like when places aren’t too crowded.

    • hi Chloe, thank you for commenting. Derborence is a secret place, (maybe not anymore now 🙂 ) but you can get lost in the Valley without seeing anybody and only engage with the Nature.

  4. Haha that’s interesting that people believed those lakes were actually cursed at one time. Switzerland seems like one of the cleanest countries in the world. Would love to see it one day!

    • hi Brittany, I know, in the earlier day people believed a lot in devils and ghosts…..which makes the place even more interesting after all.

  5. As a nature lover, I really love your post and your pictures, these kind of places always attract me. Switzerland is the country on my list, I will save this post for my resource <3

  6. Truly, this is a hidden piece of paradise on earth, I must say. I love hiking in the lush green forest a lot, and with this beautiful hiking destination, this would be a perfect haven for my itchy feet. The scenery is really amazing and still left in its innate state. Hopefully, I can traipse my feet here soon. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  7. Switzerland is high on my list of places to visit, all the incredible photos make me want to go even more. I really appreciate the information on the hikes especially what is difficult and what hikes are good for kids.

  8. So many beautiful photos of Switzerland! It’s top on my list of the countries to visit. My husband and I love hiking and can’t wait to visit this!

    • Hi Nina
      oh great that your planing to visit Switzerland, I am just about to publish our favourite hikes in Valais, check it out as you will love them.

  9. There are so many beautiful parts of the country to enjoy a hike and fresh air. The “Tour du Lac de Derborence” is one that I would enjoy. I love walking where there is water and seeing those ancient trees would be amazing.

  10. The lake looks beautiful. I’d have loved such a hike as a kid. I used to hike more with my parents when I was around 5 yrs old than I do now. I have some lovely memories from back then, and I’m sure your kids will, too.


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Hi, my name is Corina, a mum of twins, a wife and founder of Packed Again – a Swiss Family Travel & Adventure Blog. We live in the most amazing mountain valley in Switzerland, the Valais.

It is outdoors where we feel the most connected and happy with each other.

The Blog will give you lots of information on Swiss Adventures & Beyond.

Never Forget to Explore!

Thank you Corina

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