In recent years, trail running has become increasingly popular among active mountain sportsmen and women. Trail means path or path and running. And that is exactly what trail running is: running on a path. As soon as you put on trainers and leave the asphalt or treadmill, you are a trail runner. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a daring extreme sport. If you jog around your own vegetable patch and arbor, you are actually a trail runner. The Saas Valley is ideal for this sport with its many different hiking trails. Below you will find three routes which have been put together for you by our professionals. Enjoy your training!
The Hannigalp Loop is a great introduction to the terrain found in the Alps. It’s a moderate trail running tour (a distance of 10 kilometres with 520 metres of vertical gain) which includes plenty of singletrack, a bit of rocky terrain, and even a summit. After riding the gondola up to Hannig, the trail starts with a 600-metre ascent to Mällig where you can pause to enjoy views of the Mischabel Group’s 4,000-plusmetre peaks and glaciers, as well as the Weissmies and Lagginhorn across the valley. From the summit, descend a short ridge into a small valley behind the Senggflüe. Don’t forget to look over your shoulder at the glaciers cascading off the Nadelhorn as you cruise down to re-enter forest at Balmiboden. Finally, the descent concludes with a cool cruise on silky smooth singletrack through larch forest, all the way back to Saas-Fee.
This circular trail is found in the Run the Alps Switzerland trail running guidebook and has a little bit of everything. It starts with a long climb, on an incline gentle enough to run up, before gaining enough elevation for big views of the surrounding 4000-metre peaks and glaciers. Some easy scrambling follows, and finally a fast downhill finish.
Starting in Saas-Almagell, the 21-kilometre loop leads over an ancient salt trading (and smuggling) route, and connects two wild Swiss valleys, passing over the Italian border on its way. Switchbacks lead up through larch forest and into the secluded Furggtälli Valley. Heading to the back of the valley, easy running becomes rockier and more technical as you approach the Antronapass, where you cross into Italy and make your way around the Jazzihorn before returning to Switzerland at Jazzilücke. At that point, you’ve gained nearly 1400 metres, now it's time to descend the same distance.
The steep descent to the Ofental eventually levels out and the trail provides a mix of both technical and fast running. Speeding down to the Mattmark dam might be the first time you meet other people on this otherwise remote route. Stride alongside the turquoise water of the lake before descending to Saas-Almagell.
The Glacier Trail is a day-long route with a huge variety of terrain. Thanks to all the right ingredients: alpine views, singletrack, a hut stop, glacier crossings, and a fast descent, it’s a day you’ll never forget
Runners should be ready to take on 28 kilometres of track and 1600 metres of vertical gain as they leave Saas-Fee and head for Plattjen. After Plattjen, things quickly turn more technical as you make your way to the Britannia Hut.
Once you reach the hut, the Klein Allalin, standing at 3,069 metres, is a quick climb for a great view of surrounding glaciers and 4000-plus-metre peaks. Return to the hut to recharge and sample what’s on the menu that day!
From the hut, you head almost directly out onto the Hohlaub Glacier. Trail markers guide the way across to a rocky island, and from there you’ll move on to the Allalin Glacier. A long traverse on flat, hard snow and ice leads you off the glacier and back onto rocky trails. From there, it’s a steep descent to the Mattmark dam before the fast, flowing trail down the valley to Saas-Almagell. From Saas-Almagell it’s just one last 150-metre climb to get back to Saas-Fee.