Stunning Cabane de Moiry sits at 2,825 metres above sea level and occupies the most impressive location of any hut on the Walker’s Haute Route – and let me assure you, that is definitely saying something! Perched precariously (don’t worry, it only feels that way) atop a high, rocky alpine shelf with commanding views of the surrounding mountains and back down the valley to aquamarine Lac de Moiry, all of which would already make it one of the best huts in Switzerland.
However, it also happens to sit directly beside the ruggedly picturesque Moiry Glacier and the majestic Grand Cornier, featuring exceptional close-up views of one of the most famous glaciers in Switzerland. Sitting at the end of the impressive modern dining room of Cabane de Moiry hut, beer in hand, staring out the floor to ceiling windows it can feel like you are practically nose to nose with this icy behemoth. An unforgettable experience.
At least until the clouds roll in and completely cover the view in all directions. Luckily, though, they rarely stay long and, in our case, having the clouds float in and out of the scene was almost as mesmerizing as the clear, blue sky views (especially in time-lapse video).
Yes, I understand that thanks to global warming Moiry Glacier is now just a fraction of its former size, which is undeniably sad and very difficult to witness for those who have seen it in its former icy glory. However, it was our first time seeing it in person and I can assure you, it is still a pretty magnificent sight.
Cabane de Moiry is an official Swiss Alpine Hut (meaning it is eligible for discounts for Swiss Alpine Club members) and as for its place in the scheme of the Walker’s Haute Route, well, for most people it falls around day 8, just over halfway on a typical 13-14-day itinerary. And, while Cabane de Moiry can easily be visited on a simple one day in, one day out itinerary, or even as a reasonable day hike, if you love to hike and have both the time and physical ability we would highly recommend tackling the entire Walker’s Haute Route.
We have done multiple long-distance treks around Europe, including the vaunted Alta Via 1 in the Italian Dolomites, the spectacular oceanside Rota Vicentina in Portugal, several of the notorious Caminos de Santiago in Spain and, of course, the justly famous Tour du Mont Blanc, which actually shares a few stages with the Walker’s Haute Route. Yet, even considering all of those great treks, plus other top candidates in Nepal, New Zealand, Chile and Peru, just to name a few, the Walker’s Haute Route might just be the best one we’ve ever done. So consider it “highly recommended”, I guess is the point.
Walker’s Haute Route Itinerary
If you are considering visiting Cabane de Moiry as part of the Walker’s Haute Route trek there are many ways to customize your itinerary and factoring in available time, fitness, pack size, preferred length of hiking day, etc. But the following itinerary is probably the most common:
Start in Chamonix
3. Le Chable
4. Cabane Mont Fort
5. Cabane de Prafleuri
7. La Sage
8. Cabane de Moiry
11. St. Niklaus
12. Europa Hut
Whatever way you choose to visit, though, you are sure to be mesmerized by the views from the top (as well as every step of the way up). Just remember that this is true alpine hiking and the weather can change in an instant so be sure to prepare for every eventuality.
How to Get to Cabane de Moiry
There are a few different starting points to reach Cabane de Moiry but all of them involve a steep, rocky final ascent of reasonable difficulty that will, nonetheless, test even the fittest hikers. Of course, the terrific scenery along the way certainly helps, as well as knowing your exertions will ultimately be rewarded with stupendous glacier, mountain and valley views from the top.
Here are the four different hiking routes to Cabane de Moiry:
1. La Sage to Cabane de Moiry
11 km / 6-8 hrs / +1,700m / -550m
Following the typical Walker’s Haute Route stage from the adorable little village of La Sage, you’re in for a very difficult day. In our opinion, this was the hardest stage of the Walker’s Haute Route. No, 11 km may not sound that long but look a little closer at the elevation gain and loss and you’ll get a better idea of how strenuous the day is going to feel.
The long climb (1,200m) from La Sage to the top of Col du Tsaté (2,868m) is obviously very exhausting but at least the trail itself is dirt and relatively straightforward. You have to cross a bit of rockfall on the last stretch before the top but other than that it is easy walking. Just all uphill, all morning (3 hrs or so).
You might also be slower than you expected because you’ll be turning around to admire the views behind you so often and, of course, are eventually rewarded with absolutely phenomenal views in both directions from the pass.
From there, it is a steady but reasonably gentle descent (1 hr) to Lac de Chateaupre where you can rest those weary legs before the final climb (and marvel at how the few other hikers you saw at the pass have now been joined by a whole new set of day hikers).
Now, the final section (1.5-2 hrs / 500m gain), which starts with a surprisingly gentle path up the east side of the valley. Don’t be fooled, though, the gentle part soon changes as you reach higher ridges and steeper sections. As you go up the surroundings are increasingly otherworldly but the last half-hour gets pretty intense, especially considering how tired your legs probably are by now. Rough, uneven and occasionally exposed as you cross the rock-strewn evidence of ancient glaciers, it can be slow-going but at least the end is now in sight.
2. Zinal to Cabane de Moiry
16 km / 7-9 hrs / +1,750m / -600m
This is a relatively easy stage when coming DOWN from Cabane de Moiry. Not if you’re going up, though. The big saving grace, however, is the option of reducing some of the climb from Zinal to Col de Sorebois (2,835m) by taking a cable car.
If you’re determined to walk the entire way, you have two choices coming out of Zinal and the Val d’Anniviers. You can take the slightly more gradual route from the west end of town along the ridge and eventually up more steeply to the Col de Sorebois (2.5-3 hrs). Or you can follow the official WHR trail that zig-zags upward sharply from the cable car station in the centre of the village (2-2.5 hrs).
A more practical choice, considering the amount of work still left to do after crossing Col de Sorebois, is to take the cable car up from Zinal to either Sorebois (45-min hike to the top) or La Vouarda (30-min hike to the top). This option reduces the entire trek to more like 4.5-5.5 hours and the total elevation gain to under 1,000.
However you get to Col de Sorebois, the views are pretty amazing, although the Val’Anniviers around Zinal is definitely booming and there is more development there than we saw anywhere else along the Haute Route (at least until we reached Zermatt).
From the pass, you head down for half an hour or so (much easier in this direction, as you’d expect) then head west on an undulating trail that runs high along the ridge above colourful, intensely photogenic Lac de Moiry. Coming from this direction you do not actually reach the shore of the lake itself or even Lac de Chateaupre but you also don’t give back all of the altitude you’ve gained before the final climb to Cabane de Moiry. But don’t get cocky, you don’t save that much. It is still a long, intense climb (see option 1).
3. Cabane Barrage de Moiry to Cabane de Moiry
8 km / 3-3.5 hrs / +600m / -0m
It may not be as close to the glacier as Cabane de Moiry but the cabane at the dam, Le Gîte de Moiry (also called Clems & Fabs Restaurant) at Moiry Barrage (Moiry Dam), has a pretty sensational location in its own right. Perched right next to the dam that abruptly cuts off vibrant Lac de Moiry, you can start here, end here, spend a night or just stop in for a meal with a view.
To get to Cabane de Moiry, you can choose to walk along the lake where you get, first of all, close views of the amazing water. Secondly, the trail is fairly flat, gaining just a very gentle 100m over 4.5 km to Lac de Chateaupre. Leaving you, theoretically, with plenty of energy for the final tough climb to Cabane de Moiry.
A more strenuous option is to take the high route described in option 2, which adds some elevation gain and probably an extra half an hour but provides higher views of the lake.
4. Lac de Chateaupre to Cabane de Moiry
3.5 km / 1.5-2 hrs / +500m / 0m
Ha, saved the best for last! Well, easiest, anyway. Some will be excited (thrilled, even) to hear that you can drive all the way to Lac de Chateaupre and simply start walking from there. There is a fairly large parking lot to accommodate vehicles for day hiking and overnight parking is allowed for those that want to spend a night (or longer) up at Cabane de Moiry. And all you have to worry about are those last couple hours up the rocks.
Cabane de Moiry Hut Details
The hut is divided into two different sections – old and new. The modern addition to this popular hut is impressive with 4-person dorms with views and a narrow window that opens, a private outlet and lots of storage. In this section, there are 3 shared toilets and 2 showers (6 CHF for 3 minutes when there is enough water to spare).
Meanwhile, the older section has larger dorms (8-14 beds) with mattresses lined up side-by-side. While it is still comparable to the other mountain huts along the WHR, we would definitely recommend trying to get beds in the new section. Beds in the new part cost 8 CHF more per person than those in the older section (a small price to pay, in our opinion).
Beds can be booked online and they require a 50% deposit by credit card. A SAC (Swiss Alpine Club) membership (or equivalent membership with another club) saves around 14 CHF per person per night. You need to bring a sleep sack (or can rent one for 10 CHF) but they do provide blankets.
The main reason that Cabane de Moiry is often called Switzerland’s best mountain hut is, of course, its proximity to the glacier and the spectacular views that come with that. Which is why they take full advantage of the scenery in the new section, with a huge deck overlooking the glacier and valley and a large, sun-warmed dining room with fantastic floor to ceiling windows.
There is no wifi in the hut but when you are standing on the deck you can get one or two bars of cell service to use the data on your phone. There is a large boot room with a good selection of hut shoes for use (in all sizes) but no potable water so you either have to purchase bottled water or treat the tap water. We used Aquatabs as we do in most places and were fine.
There is free coffee or tea in the afternoon until 17:30. Dinner is at 18:30 with assigned seating. When we were there, the dinner was soup, pork, roasted vegetables, rice and lemon tarts. The food was served family style for the table but you can ask for more so don’t worry about running out.
Breakfast (bread, butter, jam, yogurt/cereal, sticks of cheese and apple juice/tea/coffee) was from 5-7:30 and you pick your time the night before. If you want packed lunches, you order them when you arrive (or ahead) and they get passed out during dinner. The lunches came in a cute fabric Migros (Swiss grocery store) bag that we continued to use to carry our lunches for the rest of our time on the Walker’s Haute Route (and beyond). The lunch included a baguette, apple, granola bar, chocolate and peanuts.
Cabane de Moiry Map
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How to Get to La Sage
The cute little ski village of La Sage sits just a couple kilometres up the hill from Les Hauderes and 30 km up the valley from the city of Sion (45 min). If you don’t have a car, there are hourly PostBus connections from Sion that take about an hour.
It is about a 2-hour drive (or train) from either Geneva or Bern to Sion, and around 3 hours from Zurich.
How to Get to Zinal
The buzzing ski town of Zinal is easily reached by car (30 km / 40 min) from Sierre, capital of its own municipality. Zinal is even closer to the popular tourist destination of Grimentz (8 km / 12 min). All three are connected by PostBus routes that run roughly hourly.
Sierre is roughly the same distance from major Swiss centres as Sion.
How to Get to Barrage de Moiry
Via car or public transportation you will head from Sierre to Grimentz just as you would for Zinal, then head west instead of east. The Lac de Moiry hut is almost the exact same distance as Zinal as well. There are also several PostBus routes (use the destination “Moiry VS, barrage”).
How to Get to Lac de Chateaupre
The last parking lot and closest point you can get to Cabane de Moiry by car is just another 5-minute drive past the dam. There is at least one PostBus connection (destination “Moiry, glacier”) late in the day for those who want to stay the night at Cabane de Moiry, although in high season there are usually more options.
Renting a Car in Switzerland
Although the public transportation system in Switzerland is excellent, sometimes it is nice to have the freedom of your own vehicle. With so many great towns and villages in the area we highly recommend renting a car for at least a few days to cover more ground and set your own schedule. We find Discover Cars usually have the best deals in the area.
Cabane de Moiry Summary
There is some tough competition when it comes to picking the best hut on the Walker’s Haute Route. Europahutte has epic valley views, the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge and their deck is one of the best places in Switzerland to enjoy an afternoon beer. Meanwhile, Cabane Mont Fort is surrounded by day hike possibilities and you can see two famous massifs right from the terrace (and even some of the rooms).
But for our money, Cabane de Moiry is the best. The epic glacier, valley and mountain scenery, combined with the wildly impressive new addition that maximizes glacier views while providing a surprisingly comfortable place to stay, make the top hut on the WHR and certainly one of the best places to stay in all of Switzerland. Of course, the number of Swiss mountain huts we’ve stayed in is pretty limited, so feel free to argue the merits of a different one, but with all that going for it, Cabane de Moiry will always deserve to be part of the conversation.
Whether you are an avid long-distance hiker or simply capable of handling 500m of elevation gain over a couple hours, Cabane de Moiry is a can’t-miss Swiss Alps destination.
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