Explore the magnificent beauty of the Swiss Alps on the Höhbalmen Hike, also known as the Edelweiss Trail, in Zermatt, Switzerland. This incredible trek offers an unmatched view of the iconic Matterhorn at sunrise from the viewpoint, leaving an unforgettable impression on every adventurer’s heart. Beginning in Zermatt, the trail takes you through lush Alpine meadows, dense forests, and traditional Swiss mountain hamlets before ascending to the picturesque plateau of Höhbalmen. Amongst a sea of Edelweiss flowers and bathed in the early morning golden light, the Matterhorn stands in all its glory, offering a breathtaking spectacle that perfectly captures the essence of the Swiss Alps.
HOHBALMEN HIKE: SUNRISE MATTERHORN VIEWPOINT
The Höhbalmen sunrise hike in Zermatt is an aggressive way to start your day with a 1,100m climb to a beautiful viewpoint with clear views of Matterhorn. The Höbalmen is known as one of the best sunrise viewpoints of the Matterhorn in Zermatt and is part of the Edelweiss Loop Trail. It is possible to hike and out back to Höhbalmen if you just want the view. I’ll detail all the options in this blog post.
HOHBALMEN SUNRISE HIKE DETAILS
- Hike Distance: The hike from Zermatt to Hohbalmen viewpoint and to return is 10km. However, there are lots of routes that continue from Hohbalmen that can make it a 20km loop. I just went up to the viewpoint and down and it was 10km.
- Hike Duration: The hike took me 2 hours and 50 minutes although it would be more likely to take 3-5 hours round-trip for an average pace of hiking.
- Hike Difficulty: The hike is not exposed and there are no dangers. The incline to the viewpoint is very aggressive with 1000m of incline within the first 4km, which is a lot to handle for many people…, especially before a coffee!
- Hike Incline: Starting point at Zermatt Town: 1608m – Hohbalmen Viewpoint: 2,673m
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HOW TO GET TO HOHBALMEN HIKE TRAILHEAD
The starting point for the Hohbalmen Hike is in Zermatt Town. Start at Grampi’s on Bahnhofstrasse and take the small path up towards the church. Continue up the hill following the signs to Edelweiss and then when you arrive follow the signs at Edelweiss to the Hohbalmen.
MY EXPERIENCE HIKING UP TO HOHBALMEN FOR SUNRISE
I woke up just 1.5 hours before sunrise thinking I would have enough time to make it to the viewpoint for first light. It turns out you should probably give two or two and a half hours of hiking time to make sure you can see the sunrise.
I made my way through the dark streets of Zermatt and found the narrow path just near Grampi’s that leads up to the Edelweiss Hut, which is the halfway point of the hike. It’s steep from the get-go and you are basically going to be breathing hard from this moment on as you tackle 1,100m of climbing to reach the Hohbalmen summit.
I decided to make a workout out of it and after watching the Ultraks Skyruning event the day before, I knew they had a cut-off in a similar route where athletes had 1.5 hours to reach 1km of climbing. I managed to almost do the same with my backpack full of gear. Most of the entire field met that cut-off with ease but it was a fun and sweaty challenge to keep me motivated in the morning.
The trail winds up the forest on a series of switchbacks until you reach the Edelweiss Hut. It is the mountain hut, precariously balanced on the side of the mountain, which you can see from Zermatt town no matter where you are. It only took about 45 minutes to reach even though it seems so high from Zermatt Town.
At the Edelweiss Hut, you can get drinks and food but there will be no one there pre-sunrise to field your requests. Instead, check out the signs and follow the route to Hohbalmen along the side of the mountain. It suggests it will take you two hours, which wasn’t great as I only had 30-40 minutes until sunrise. I went at it as fast as I could hoping to reach the viewpoint to see the alpenglow on Matterhorn.
Unfortunately, I had started the adventure too late. However, I did enjoy the sunrise and alpenglow on the other peaks as I hiked up and saw some beautiful colors. It’s often when we chase a specific moment we are given a surprise instead that can sometimes be more magical and this was the case for me. Rays poured through the peaks on the other side of Zermatt towards Gornergrat and I was happy to be up high in the mountains with no one else around during sunrise.
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I finally reached the summit after 1 hour and 50 minutes and I may have missed the alpenglow on Matterhorn but was just in time for the sun to burst over the mountains far away.
I wasn’t actually the only one at the summit. An old man hiked up just behind me and started doing a sun salutation as the sun appeared over the mountains. Quite a morning routine for an old fella to wave to the sun after 1,100m of climbing.
While I may have missed the alpenglow pre-sunrise, the early light was still pretty spectacular on the mighty Matterhorn and this is really a great, wide-open field to sit down, enjoy breakfast and watch the Matterhorn Peak in all of its glory. I spent the next 30 minutes sitting on a rock, looking at the steep ridges of Matterhorn while thinking about the people who would be climbing the peak that day. It’s pretty impressive what humans have been able to achieve but the peak itself is more impressive than any feat.
I decided to hike down more or less the same route, although I skipped out on Edelweiss and took a quicker route down as you can see on the map above. However, you can continue on the Hornweg, which is a 20km hike and there are a lot of trails in the area.
You could even venture further out to Trifthutte. Zermatt has tons of hiking trails and Hohbalmen is a great base if you want a full day of adventures. I had a flight to catch that afternoon so I shuffled down the mountain quickly after enjoying the sunrise expedition.
I hope you enjoy this sweet sunrise spot with a great view of the Matterhorn and also enjoy the epic leg workout you will get on the way to the top. Don’t forget to salute the sun when you reach the summit!
SWISS TRAVEL PASS or HALF-FARE CARD
OPTION 1: Buy the Swiss Half Fare Card: Switzerland trains, buses, and cable cars are EXPENSIVE! I found the best way to get around cheaply was to buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card before I arrived. It gives you 50% off every regular train, bus, and even many cable cars. It only costs $150 USD but pays itself off in just a few days with many train tickets in Switzerland costing close to $100 alone. If you are staying for more than 5 days, I suggest buying the Swiss Half-Fare Card.
OPTION 2: Buy the Swiss Travel Pass: The second option is to get the Swiss Travel Pass, which gives you unlimited train, bus, and (many) cable car rides but it’s pretty expensive at around $100 USD per day so if you don’t travel each day it isn’t worth it.
OPTION 3: Buy the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass: The final (BEST) option is to get the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass, which allows you to buy 8 days’ worth of transit but you can choose the night before if you want to activate the next day. That way you don’t need to travel every day to get your money’s worth, you can just activate the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass on the days when you are doing sizeable transits. My advice is to book the Swiss Half-Fare Card or the FLEXI Swiss Travel Pass in advance before your trip so it’s ready to go when you arrive.
MY SWITZERLAND HIKING GUIDES
I spent 100 days hiking in Switzerland and created a guide for different regions around the country. You can click on one of my Switzerland hiking guides below to help you plan your trip.
- The Complete Guide: 50 AWESOME HIKES IN IN SWITZERLAND
- The Via Ferrata Guide: 4 EPIC SWITZERLAND VIA FERRATA COURSES
- Lauterbrunnen Guide: 10 AWESOME HIKES NEAR LAUTERBRUNNEN
- Interlaken Guide: 15 AWESOME HIKES IN INTERLAKEN
- Grindelwald Guide: 12 AWESOME HIKES NEAR GRINDELWALD:
- Mürren Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES IN MURREN
- Appenzell Guide: 9 AWESOME HIKES NEAR APPENZELL
- Chur Guide: 7 AWESOME HIKES NEAR CHUR