“Mummy, why do the cows have bells, and where do they sleep? Are they living up in the Swiss Alps all year round, also in the winter? Oh, and who is drinking all the milk?
I can imagine that these are questions your kids are asking when you see a herd of cows on a family hike in the Swiss Alps . Am I correct in guessing you may be a bit stuck in giving the right answer to your curious child? Well, I have the perfect theme trail in Évolène, Valais for you!
The NEW theme trail “Sentier de la Désalpe” is a downhill hike explaining what happens during the summer up in the Swiss alpine pastures. Information panels on the trail will provide the answers for your children.
Here are some more hiking suggestions when visiting the Valais in Switzerland
The Trail explains the following themes:
- The Désalpe (going back town to lower altitude for the winter)
- Life at the alpage (who is looking after the cows)
- The Hérens cow breed (Valais’ own pride and joy)
- Life in a Mayen (Alpine Chalets)
- Queen combat (there needs to be a chief or more precisely a queen on the pastures)
- Terrace culture cheese making. (Oh yes, Switzerland is well known for its best cheeses)
- Mowing the meadows. (Important to stock up for winter)
- The hamlet of Lannaz
What is a Désalpe?
Perhaps you have already heard the word – Inalpe? This takes place at the beginning of summer when the cows and other mountain alpine animals, such as goats and sheep are heading high up into the Swiss Alps for the summer.
Then after 3-4 months the désalpe occurs. The descent of the herds of cows, returning to their stables for the winter after spending the summer up on the alpine pastures.
During this event villages proudly decorate their cows with flowers and their finest bells. The descending cows will pass in procession to the applause of the public, and to the delight of the herdsmen and their families.
A living festival and whenever you have the chance to go and see a désalpe, don’t miss it. Villages throughout Switzerland have different traditions to celebrate a désalpe, but the one thing they do have in common is a happy, colourful and most of all a proud festival.
The Theme Trail “Sentier de la Désalpe” in Evolène
To access the désalpe theme trail you must make your way to Evolène, situated in the Val d’Hérens in Valais. See map below. I have also added another theme trail you will find in the Évolène Region, The Marmot Trail.
When you have arrived in the beautiful Valais village of Evolène follow the signs (and not your GPS) to the chairlift in Lana. Here you will find a large parking place and the chairlift which brings you and your family up to the Chemeuille alp.
Take note that the chairlift is closed for lunch from 13.15 to 14.15, therefore plan accordingly.
The ride up on the chairlift is already breathtakingly beautiful. You slowly gain altitude whilst passing traditional Mayens and Mazots, and the view gets better and better.
Start the Hike along the Sentier de la Désalpe at Chemeuille Alp
Before we start the theme trail, look around you! I mean seriously, how breathtakingly beautiful is this place?!
With the Dent Blanche and Val d’Hérens peaks, you also get the Matterhorn (in the distance on the right-hand side in the photo below, the one with the plateau on it). So here you go, you can cancel your Zermatt trip and enjoy Évolène a bit longer, 🙂
From the top you will also see La Maya, a blocky peak on your left and the glacier behind the alpage is the Glacier de Vouasson.
Even just coming up to the Chemeuille Alp, enjoying a Raclette on the Restaurant’s terrace, checking out the alpage and explaining to the kids all about “Life on a Swiss Alpine Pasture in Evolène” by reading the panels is a worthwhile trip. You will also find the information on the local website if this is your plan.
If you came here to hike it then let’s start. Follow the dedicated signs for the Sentier de la Désalpe theme trail and find the beautiful information boards illustrated by Derib (the author of Yakari.)
As it is a Désalpe theme trail the hike is a downhill trail. In some places you might want to take the little hikers by the hand, whereas in other areas they can freely explore the nature. It is not pushchair friendly.
At each panel you have an explanation on one of the stages of the life on a Swiss pasture, and some suggest alpine games you could play with the kids.
This also gives you a break from the downhill hiking which you may appreciate.
Never forget to marvel at the view!
The paths will also guide you through some Mayens which have been beautifully renovated, clearly with love.
Most of these mountain huts are owned by locals and stay within the family FOREVER! Imagine spending weekends at one of these Mayens, heaven.
Alternative Hiking Trails of the Sentier de la Désalpe
You can see on the hiking map below, that the path is zigzagging down under the chairlift. In the photos you also will see many of the dedicated signs you will pass on your descent.
If you feel that the path may be a bit too steep or slippery (if you hike it just after a rainy day), you can opt to take an alternative route (wider path) and join the theme trail again later.
You will also see on the local map the points marked with a circle and this is where you will find the dedicated information boards. Be aware that by taking another path, you may miss some boards.
But this doesn’t mean you will miss out on the information provided. You can check it later at home on the Evolène Region website or if you have taken the explanation print outs with you on the hike (you find them here) you always have the opportunity to read them now.
This is just in case you need to take an alternative route. 🙂
Enjoying the day at the Chemeuille Alp in Evolène, Valais
This area is incredibly beautiful and everyone should be able to witness it. You know what, it is accessible for everyone even non-hikers.
Ride up with the chairlift from Lana and spend the day within the nature and beauty of these Valaisanne Alps and experience the Swiss Alpine Pasture.
Enjoy lunch at the Restaurant de Chemeuille whilst the kids can run around freely. If you enjoy alpine flowers bring an identification book with you, find a nice place to sit and try to see if you can find them in your book. We LOVE to do this as a family during our hiking breaks.
The meadows are full with so many varieties that you may just need to come back another day to identify them all.
Hiking Map Sentier de la Désalpe, Evolène
How the map works: Click on “Learn More” to get to the full map layout with profile and interactive bike route indicator.
Location:: Evolène Lana Chairlift
Length:: 4.6 km downhill
Level:: easy to moderate hike some parts are steeper than other. Alternative routes possible.
Ascent:: 34m / Descent:: 769m
Highest point:: 2262m
Good to know
- There is a restaurant at the top of the chairlift
- It is not push chair friendly
- You need to have good hiking boots for this hike, As it is a downhill hike you may want to get your hiking poles.
- As always, bring rain and wind protection jackets
Please respect the mountain nature, and keep your dogs on a leash. Leave only foot prints and only take pictures.
You may also like the following family hikes in Valais.
These hikes below have an age rating for kids between 3-5 years of age. This is simply a recommendation by us. On each hike I have stated the age of our twins on the day of the hike.
- Evolène Arolla – Marmot Theme Trail
- Hiking in Grimentz-Zinal – Cabane du petit Mountet
- Randa – Zermatt – Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge Hike
- Verbier- Hiking La tour de la Pierre Avoi
- Ferpècle: A stroll or bike ride to the Mont-Miné Glacier, Valais
- Lötschental Panorama Hike
- Hiking to Lac de Salanfe with Kids
- 12 Easy Family Hikes in Valais
- A Family Hike at La Grande Dixence Dam
- Tseuzier Lake – Best family friendly hike with little kids
I hope that the information provided here will prove itself useful when Hiking in Evolène, Sentier de la Désalpe.
If I have left anything out or you have a question, please ask your questions in the comments below so that other readers can join in the conversation and benefit from your queries also.
Note: This was a collaboration with Evolène Region. And as always with these partnerships, the purpose is for us to test the hike and giving an honest review which we always do.
Thank you & Never Forget to Explore
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