It took me quite a while, but I finally went to see the mightiest of the Swiss mountains, the Matterhorn. While the whole Zermatt region is a hiker’s paradise, I chose for my day out a short but sweet hike from Rotenboden to Gornergrat. Great Matterhorn-sighting, a quiet trail and views of nine different glaciers.
The hike starts with a trainride on one of those cute little mountain trains (that cost a fortune, but are usually worth the buck): The Gornergrat Bahn. Take the train all the way up to the second last stop at Rotenboden. From there it is a short hike to Riffelsee, a popular photo stop where on a clear day, you can see the reflection of the Matterhorn in the lake.
Now follow the hiking signs to Gornergletscher (not to be confused with Gornergrat, bc that trail would lead you along the train tracks). The small trail takes you into the valley high above the Gornerglacier. It is fairly even which means you have energy to really enjoy the amazing view you get. There are various glaciers flowing together here and the surface is a maze of deep blue glacial pools, crevasses and ice sculptures.
After about an our on the trail there is a sharp turn to the left (indicated by a blue “alpine trail” sign.) The path cuts steeply into the mountainside to your left. It is all uphill from now on. A seemingly never ending series of switchbacks takes you steeply up to the Gornergrat. The train is indicated as an alpine trail with a difficulty rating of T4, yet apart from one very short scrambling through two boulders situation it is fairly easy as long as it is dry and especially as long as you hike upwards. The challenge here lies with the strength of your legs. Yet it is always worth to take a rest: The view just gets better and better!
The hike ends on top of the Gornergrat. A short walk along the ridge takes you to the Gornergrat station with its various viewing platforms, the restaurant and souvenir shop and of course the train station, for an easy way back down into lovely Zermatt.
Information: 4.5 km / 540 m up, 270 m dwon / rated T4, a short section is on blue-white-trail / approx 2 hours / Starting point: Rotenboden station / End point: Gornergrat station