Through the Golden Larches of Engadin

On our 100km trek through the Engadin, we hiked over passes, through forests, over streams and down hidden valleys. Due to the wonderful summer we had, we didn’t feel the need to head off to a warmer climate for a week of vacation in autumn. Last year we soaked up the sun in Andalusia, this year we stayed in Switzerland. A few years ago I bought a book on week-long hikes through Switzerland which feature regional culinary highlights. The first one in the book is in the Engadin, one of our favorite places to visit.

And off we were!

Day 1: The first leg of the trip was a warm-up walk from Maloja to Val Fex. We walked for 7 fairly flat kilometers along Lake Sils, stopping very often to take photos of the beautiful larches just turning color. We started out in the pouring rain, but then lucked out on some sun. Coming closer to Val Fex, we noticed how different it looked than it did when we visited earlier this year in winter.

Day 2: On our second day we were blessed with beautiful weather and a lot of sun. By the end of the day, and around 18 km, our cheeks were glowing. We veered off the trail at one point, the snow hid the trail and we took a little detour, before hiking up to what could be one of the most beautiful vista points in Switzerland, Fuorcla Surlej. Once we started down the other side of the pass, we didn’t see another soul. Arriving at our hotel in Val Roseg in the dusk, we saw 5 chamoix come out and cross the creek on the valley floor. What a sight!

Day 3: Val Roseg has long been a favorite of mine and it’s definitely on my list of top three valleys in Switzerland. We hiked out of the valley, along the river and this time we passed quite a few other people. Since the walk into the valley and out is flat, it’s a favorite trail and many look forward to taking the horse-drawn wagon (or sleigh in winter) out of the valley again. There were plenty of squirrels zooming up and down the trees, and I picked out pine seeds to feed the chickadees. We had a lot of “do you remember” moments, thinking about when we had been in the same area 3 years ago. From Val Roseg, up through Pontresina and to Muottas Muragl was a 15.5 km hike and the views from the top were lovely.

Day 4: This day started out rainy and then snowy, but then ended sunny and warm. We hiked from Muottas Muragl to Fuorcla Muragl at almost 3000 m, where we spent as little time as possible. It was windy, cold and snowy. At the end of our 19.5 km hike, we had met exactly one person. We hiked through Val Prüna which felt like it hadn’t seen a person in years and then saw some of the most beautiful larches in Val Chamuera. Val Chamuera made it onto my top valleys in Switzerland list. Arriving in Chamues-ch, we decided to treat our weary bodies to a soak in the mineral baths in Samedan. Bliss!

Day 5: We allowed ourselves a short train ride instead of hiking 2 more extra hours as this day was a long hike. There was a very slow elevation gain so the trail didn’t have a very steep incline, but that made for a longer hike. We started in Cinous-chel, walked to Susauna and 20 km later we reached Fuorcla da Funtauna. Again one of the more solitary legs of the trip, but we did pass a few other hikers.

Day 6: Last days are always bittersweet. On the one hand I was ready to loose my heavy backpack and give my knees a rest, on the other I wanted to keep on hiking. We started out early carefully avoiding icy patches and hiking between the lakes Lai da Revais-ch Suot and Sur. We crossed over the Sertigpass and down to Sertig. The closer we got to Sertig, the more larches appeared in their golden color. From Sertig we took the bus to Davos Monstein, where we spent our last night.

This is a hike I’d highly recommend. On each day, except day 5, we would have been able to take the train or bus if the weather hadn’t been good enough to hike in.
Where to stay and eat:

  • Chesa Pool: The restaurant was highly recommend by a friend who grew up in the next village and we found the food delicious, but we thought our room in the hotel overpriced for what it was.
  • Hotel Roseg: The cake buffet is famous and the food is good. Since there are no cars or other buildings, it’s very quiet, and all we heard was the stream and the bellowing stag.
  • Hotel Muottas Muragl: This was the second time we stayed at this mountain top hotel with the amazing view. The food is delicious and the rooms delightful.
  • Chesa D’Arch: This bed and breakfast is in a newly built Minergy house. The owners are very welcoming and the rooms spacious.
  • Kesch Hütte: This mountain hut has been recently renovated and we were lucky to be there when it wasn’t full. We had a room to ourselves and were up at the crack of dawn to enjoy the view of the mountains.
  • Hotel Ducan: Our last night was spent at the small hotel right across the street from Europe’s second highest brewery. Of course we stopped by before sitting down in the hotel to one of the best meals we had on the trip.
  • Walserhuus Sertig: We wanted to stay here, but they were already booked. So we settled on celebrating the end of our hike with a delicious lunch.

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