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Hörnli Trail (Nr. 27)

· 1 review · Alpine trail · Switzerland
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Zermatt - Matterhorn Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • The Hörnli Trail starts from the Schwarzsee top station
    The Hörnli Trail starts from the Schwarzsee top station
    Photo: Edith Lehner, Zermatt Tourismus
m 3400 3200 3000 2800 2600 2400 4,0 3,5 3,0 2,5 2,0 1,5 1,0 0,5 km Schwarzsee (Bergbahnstation) Hörnlihütte | Matterhorn Schwarzsee Kapelle Schwarzsee "Maria zum Schnee" Schwarzsee

This trail leads to what is probably the key location in Zermatt, the Hörnli Hut at the foot of the Matterhorn. Historically this has been the heart of all the action, and remains so today.

Distance 4.3 km
2:15 h
693 m
13 m
3,260 m
2,570 m

Anyone visiting Zermatt should take this path at least once. It was here that the first climbers to conquer the Matterhorn set off for their ascent on 14 July 1865. Of the seven mountaineers, only three returned to the village of Zermatt, including the British climber Edward Whymper.

At the Hörnli Hut, visitors can really feel, touch and experience the Matterhorn, which towers majestically above the building. The climbing route leads from here via the Hörnligrat ridge up to the summit. From the hut’s terrace, visitors can watch the mountaineers (binoculars required) beginning their ascent before dawn, equipped with head torches. It’s fascinating to watch. Is it a smooth climb? Have they reached the Solvay hut (4,003 m) yet? Are they managing to scale the “shoulder”? How quickly will they reach the summit?

  • Trail leads past the idyllic Schwarzsee lake with chapel
  • Accommodation in the Hörnli Hut Matterhorn (reservations required)
  • Best time of year for spotting mountaineers scaling the Hörnligrat: August–September
  • Photographic subject: the Matterhorn, close up

Author’s recommendation

Please contact the Hörnli Hut for the most up-to-date information on trail conditions.


The trail features open-grilled metal walkways suspended over the void; this can prove a challenge for those who do not have a good head for heights. The path is exposed in places.

A must for those interested in the Matterhorn: the Matterhorn Museum - Zermatlantis, brings the story of the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 vividly to life. Exhibits include pictures, the original snapped rope from the first ascent, artefacts, finds from the mortal accident…

Profile picture of Zermatt Tourismus
Zermatt Tourismus
Update: November 22, 2022
Highest point
Hörnlihütte, 3,260 m
Lowest point
2,570 m
Best time of year

Track types

Forested/wild trail 3.63%Path 96.37%
Forested/wild trail
0.2 km
4.1 km
Show elevation profile

Rest stops

Hörnli hut | Matterhorn

Safety information

  • Plan every mountain tour carefully and adapt to participants’ fitness level as well as the weather and season.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
  • Inform others of planned route, and whenever possible avoid going alone.
  • Do not leave the marked routes; do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
  • Please be considerate to other walkers and to plants and animals.
  • Take note of the warning signs drawing attention to the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs.

Tip: “Be searchable”. Equip yourself with an additional RECCO rescue reflector*. Whether summer or winter. Available in our Online-Shop or our information desk.* The additional reflector does not replace an avalanche beacon.


Schwarzsee (2,583 m) (2,583 m)
2'620'971E 1'093'373N
45.991595, 7.709289
45°59'29.7"N 7°42'33.4"E
32T 400042 5093923
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Hörnli Hut Matterhorn (3,260 m)

Turn-by-turn directions

Schwarzsee - Hörnli Hut Matterhorn

(Hiking time for the walk back: approx. 1h 30)

This hike is marked on the signposts as “Hörnliweg”.


all notes on protected areas

Public transport

By train to the Matterhorn village: 3½ hours from Zürich airport or 4 hours from Geneva airport. Change at Visp onto the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn (Matterhorn Gotthard Railway). From Visp, the railway leads through the Mattertal valley past idyllic small villages to Zermatt.

Zermatt is also the start and finish point for the world-famous Glacier Express panoramic train journey (Zermatt to St. Moritz or Davos).

Getting there

Zermatt is car-free. Private vehicles are permitted only as far as Täsch (5 km before Zermatt). The Täsch–Zermatt road is closed to the public.

Onward travel to Zermatt is either by private taxi or shuttle train. Trains depart every 20 minutes; the journey takes about 12 minutes, and ends at the Bahnhofplatz in Zermatt.


Täsch has car parks with both covered and open-air parking – e.g. at the Matterhorn Terminal or privately operated facilities.

Onward travel: see “Getting there”.


2'620'971E 1'093'373N
45.991595, 7.709289
45°59'29.7"N 7°42'33.4"E
32T 400042 5093923
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Book recommendation by the author

"Der Wächter des Matterhorns – mein Leben auf der Hörnlihütte", Kurt Lauber. Droemer Verlag 2012. Deutsch, evtl. Japanisch. ISBN 978-3-426-27573-3. "Der Wahrheit näher – die Katastrophe am Matterhorn von 1865", Hannes Taugwalder und Martin Jaggi, Glendyn Verlag Aarau, 2013. Deutsch. Ohne ISBN-Nr. Erhältlich in der Buchhandlung ZAP, Zermatt. „Scrambles Amongst the Alps – in the Years 1860-1869“. Edward Whymper, National Geographic Adventure Classics, Washington D.C., Englisch. ISBN 0-7922-6923-3. "Ulrich Inderbinen", Heidi Lanz / Liniane De Meester, Rotten Verlag, CH-3930 Visp, 1996. Auflage in Deutsch in Vorbereitung. English, Französisch. „Visionäre Bahnprojekte – die Schweiz im Aufbruch 1870 – 1939“, Heinz Schild, AS Verlag Zürich, Deutsch. ISBN 978-3-906055-13-8

Author’s map recommendations

A walking map (1:25,000) is available from Zermatt Tourism’s guest information centre, along with brochures containing tips and recommendations.


We recommend:

  • Good footwear
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Clothing suitable for the weather (always carry a waterproof)
  • Binoculars
  • Camera / Telephoto

Important! A good head for heights, a sure foot  are needed

Questions and answers

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Saghar Hosseini
August 05, 2019 · Community
Photo: Saghar Hosseini, Community
Photo: Saghar Hosseini, Community
Photo: Saghar Hosseini, Community

Photos from others

4.3 km
2:15 h
693 m
13 m
Highest point
3,260 m
Lowest point
2,570 m
Linear route Scenic Refreshment stops available Geological highlights Botanical highlights Flora and fauna Cableway ascent/descent


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