Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers
Channel your inner cheese farmer / dairy maiden on this run! There are small local cheese farms where you can stop off taste the goodness created by the contented cows grazing all around you. A little chapel built into the rock cliff makes for a worthwhile pilgrimage site. And the grand finale is running on metal ramps and stairs through the thermal canyon waterfall created by the Dala River.
The town of Leukerbad has been a destination since Roman times. Almost 4 million liters of 120 degree water come out of springs here every day to supply the famous pools and wellness spas. This loop run starts from downtown on Larchmattenstrasse which curiously cuts through a building via a short tunnel passageway. The initial ascent is mostly on gravel and dirt roads that switchback steadily up the forested hillside. Don't be disappointed in this first part of the excursion, it gets much better!
Once the trail emerges from the trees, the great views begin in earnest. Huge rocky outcrops and impressive mountains loom over the broad alpine valley. These include the Folljeret pastures to the west, the Majing pastures further up the valley, and the top-most ones are the Flüealp meadows. The cows munching away at the grass and wildflowers produce the delicacies served in the various working cheese dairies here. Fluealp is also the name of the small cheese making operation and associated snack place.
At the high point, near the head of the valley you'll cross a suspension bridge over the headwaters of the Dala river. There are a few picnic tables set on the hillside meadow that is impossibly dense with wildflowers. This is a perfect spot for lunch and an alpine nap! Around the corner is a tiny church built from a natural rock grotto in the early-19th century. This one-room chapel has a few pews and candles to light in exchange for a donation.
Begin the return trip to town via a steep descent along the river on the opposite side of the valley. The trail crosses several steep, rocky gullies. Some of these gullies have running water and others are dry, but all are severely eroded. The trail is faint here and challengingly sloped. Take your time and watch your footing! Finally, the grade and terrain eases. Pass a few waterfalls, foot bridges, farms and rock walls.
There are multiple routes back to town, but this description sets you up for a bonus visit to the Thermal Canyon. Head steeply downhill and back into the forest, following yellow diamond markers painted on rocks. Before long you'll once again reach the Dala river canyon. Head into the canyon along metal ramps and stairways suspended above the rushing waters. This cannot fail to bring a smile to your face - it's free and fun! There are info panels explaining how the warm thermal waters seep from the walls and how the canyon walk was originally built and then repaired by volunteers after storm damage. Keep an eye out for a little trolley on a wire that you can use to dip hot water from a thermal pool and winch it back up to feel the heat!
All good things come to an end... the canyon's ramps end in a little community park with more info boards. Follow streets and a path along the river back to your starting point downtown.
Shared By: Megan W