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Riffelsee Lake Hike In Zermatt: Best Matterhorn Reflection


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lonni Feinberg



Welcome to Zermatt, Switzerland’s picturesque mountain village nestled in the heart of the Alps. Known for its stunning landscapes, world-class ski resorts, and the iconic Matterhorn, Zermatt is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. And if you’re looking for a hike that offers breathtaking views and a chance to witness the enchanting reflection of the Matterhorn, the Riffelsee Lake Hike is a must-visit.


The Riffelsee Lake Hike is renowned for providing one of the most picture-perfect views of the Matterhorn. As you embark on this adventure, you’ll be treated to a mesmerizing panorama of snow-capped peaks, vibrant alpine meadows, and crystal-clear mountain lakes. This hike not only offers a physical challenge but also rewards hikers with an unforgettable visual spectacle that has made it a favorite for avid photographers.


With its serene setting and the magical play of light on the water’s surface, Riffelsee Lake becomes a canvas that paints a flawless reflection of the majestic Matterhorn. The symmetrical image created by the towering peak against the still water is a dream come true for both amateur and professional photographers alike.


Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, the Riffelsee Lake Hike offers a memorable experience for all. The journey will take you through winding trails, alpine forests, and scenic vantage points that showcase the beauty of the Swiss Alps. The trail is well-maintained and accessible, making it suitable for hikers of all skill levels.


In this article, we will delve into the details of the Riffelsee Lake Hike, including the route description, difficulty level, best time to visit, and how to get there. We will also explore the significance of Riffelsee for photographers and delve into the enchanting phenomenon of Matterhorn reflections. So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and let’s explore the wonders of the Riffelsee Lake Hike in Zermatt.


Overview of Riffelsee Lake Hike

The Riffelsee Lake Hike is a mesmerizing trail that offers breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the world. The hike begins in Zermatt and takes you to the pristine alpine beauty of Riffelsee Lake, where you can witness the awe-inspiring reflection of the Matterhorn on calm days.


The trail to Riffelsee Lake is approximately 5 kilometers long, with an elevation gain of around 300 meters. Hikers will traverse through enchanting alpine meadows, quaint Swiss villages, and dense forests as they make their way towards the picturesque lake. The well-marked trail is accessible for both experienced hikers and beginners, although some sections may require moderate physical fitness.


Throughout the hike, you will be accompanied by captivating views of the surrounding mountains, including the Weisshorn, the Dom, and the Gornergrat. The beauty of the Swiss Alps is unrivaled, and the Riffelsee Lake Hike provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in these stunning landscapes.


As you approach Riffelsee Lake, the anticipation of witnessing the Matterhorn reflection grows. The lake, nestled at the base of the mountain, is famous for its mirror-like surface that perfectly captures the majestic Matterhorn. On clear days, the reflection is so pristine that it feels as if you are gazing at two identical peaks, one above and one below the water’s surface.


The tranquility of Riffelsee Lake adds to the surreal experience. Surrounded by alpine flora and fauna, the peaceful atmosphere is ideal for relaxation, contemplation, and of course, capturing the perfect photograph. Visitors often spend time by the lake, immersing themselves in the beauty of nature and basking in the magical ambiance it offers.


The Riffelsee Lake Hike is not just about the destination but also the journey itself. The trail is well-maintained and signposted, ensuring hikers can navigate comfortably and enjoy the surrounding scenery. Along the way, you’ll encounter wooden bridges, mountain streams, and stunning viewpoints that offer panoramic vistas of the Swiss Alps.


Whether you’re an avid hiker or a nature enthusiast, the Riffelsee Lake Hike guarantees an unforgettable experience. From the mesmerizing reflection of the Matterhorn to the serenity of the alpine landscape, this hike encapsulates the beauty of Zermatt and showcases why it is a popular destination for outdoor adventurers from around the world.


Route Description

The Riffelsee Lake Hike begins in the charming village of Zermatt, located at the foot of the Matterhorn. From the village center, head towards the Gornergrat Bahn station, where the trailhead is located. The trail starts with a gentle climb, gradually leading you towards the alpine wonderland.


As you ascend, you’ll pass through lush forests of pine and larch trees, offering a pleasant shade during warmer months. The trail is well-marked with signs indicating the way to Riffelsee Lake, ensuring you don’t lose your way.


After approximately 1.5 kilometers, you’ll arrive at a viewpoint known as Riffelberg. This is a perfect spot to rest and take in the panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. On clear days, you can catch a glimpse of the Matterhorn and its reflection in the distance, building anticipation for what lies ahead.


Continuing on, the trail becomes a bit steeper but manageable for hikers of all levels. You’ll pass by alpine meadows adorned with wildflowers, adding a burst of color to the landscape. Take your time to soak in the natural beauty and breathe in the fresh mountain air.


After approximately 3 kilometers, you’ll reach the highlight of the hike – Riffelsee Lake. Here, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the Matterhorn casting its reflection on the tranquil waters of the lake. This is the perfect spot to capture that iconic photo or simply sit back and be awed by the sheer magnificence of the surroundings.


Once you’ve taken in the beauty of Riffelsee Lake, you have the option to continue the hike to the Riffelberg viewpoint or head back down to Zermatt. If you choose to continue, the trail will take you further up the mountain, providing even more breathtaking vistas of the Matterhorn and the surrounding peaks.


Overall, the Riffelsee Lake Hike is a relatively moderate hike that can be completed in approximately 2-3 hours, depending on your pace and how much time you spend at the lake. It’s important to wear comfortable hiking shoes, carry water, and pack appropriate clothing, as weather conditions in the mountains can change quickly.


Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply want to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Swiss Alps, the Riffelsee Lake Hike promises an unforgettable experience that will make your visit to Zermatt truly memorable.


Difficulty and Duration

The Riffelsee Lake Hike is considered a moderately challenging hike, suitable for hikers of various skill levels. While the trail does involve some uphill sections and elevation gain, it is well-maintained and accessible for most individuals. However, it is important to assess your own fitness level and come prepared accordingly.


The hike to Riffelsee Lake spans a distance of approximately 5 kilometers, with an elevation gain of around 300 meters. The duration of the hike depends on your pace, breaks, and how much time you spend at the lake. On average, it takes about 2-3 hours to complete the hike, allowing for ample time to soak in the scenery and capture photographs.


The difficulty level of the hike can vary depending on weather conditions and individual fitness. While the trail is generally well-marked and easy to follow, there are some uphill sections that may require a moderate level of physical fitness. It is advisable to wear comfortable hiking shoes with good traction and bring along walking poles if desired.


It is also important to consider the altitude when undertaking the Riffelsee Lake Hike. Zermatt is located at an elevation of around 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) above sea level, and the trail takes you higher. Some individuals may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as shortness of breath and fatigue. It is recommended to take breaks, stay hydrated, and listen to your body throughout the hike.


Overall, with proper preparation and a reasonable level of fitness, the Riffelsee Lake Hike can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The stunning views of the Matterhorn and the serene beauty of Riffelsee Lake make the effort worthwhile, leaving you with lasting memories of your time in Zermatt.


Best Time to Visit

The Riffelsee Lake Hike in Zermatt can be enjoyed throughout the year, each season offering its own unique charm. However, the best time to visit depends on your preferences and what you hope to experience during your hike.


Summer, from June to September, is considered the peak tourist season in Zermatt. During this time, the weather is generally mild and comfortable, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). The alpine meadows come alive with colorful wildflowers, adding a vibrant touch to the scenery. Summer is also ideal for photography, as the days are longer, providing ample time to capture the perfect shot of the Matterhorn reflection.


Autumn, from September to November, offers a different ambiance with the changing foliage. The mountainsides are painted with hues of red, orange, and yellow, creating a breathtaking panorama. The weather is cooler, with temperatures ranging from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a comfortable time for hiking. However, it’s important to note that the weather can be more unpredictable during these months, so be prepared for sudden changes and shorter days.


Winter, from December to February, transforms Zermatt into a winter wonderland. The snow-covered landscapes and glistening peaks create a magical setting. However, hiking during winter requires extra precautions and proper gear, as the trails may be icy or inaccessible. It is recommended to check weather conditions and consult with local authorities before embarking on the hike.


Spring, from March to May, brings a sense of renewal to Zermatt. The snow begins to melt, and the valleys become carpeted with blooming flowers. The temperatures range from 5 to 15 degrees Celsius (41 to 59 degrees Fahrenheit), making it a pleasant time for hiking. However, similar to autumn, weather conditions can vary, so be prepared for changing conditions.


Overall, the best time to visit Riffelsee Lake in Zermatt depends on your personal preferences and the experience you seek. If you prefer milder weather and longer days, summer may be the ideal time. If you enjoy the beauty of changing foliage or a winter wonderland, autumn or winter might be your preferred choice. Regardless of the season, make sure to check weather conditions and plan your hike accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


How to Get to Riffelsee Lake

Reaching Riffelsee Lake from Zermatt is relatively straightforward, and there are a few different options available.


1. Gornergrat Railway: The most popular and convenient way to get to Riffelsee Lake is by taking the Gornergrat Railway. From Zermatt, you can board the train at the Gornergrat Bahn station, which is located near the center of the village. The train ride itself is a scenic experience, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The journey to Riffelsee Lake takes approximately 30 minutes, and the train will stop at the Riffelberg station. From there, it’s a short hike of about 1 kilometer to the lake.


2. Hiking from Zermatt: If you prefer to start the hike from Zermatt itself, you can do so by following the signs towards the Gornergrat Bahn station. The trailhead for the Riffelsee Lake Hike is located near the station. This option allows you to immerse yourself in the natural beauty from the very beginning and adds an extra sense of accomplishment to the hike.


3. Private Transfer: For those who prefer a more personalized experience, private transfers can be arranged from Zermatt to Riffelsee Lake. This option is ideal for those who want to have more flexibility in their schedule or wish to explore the surrounding areas at their own pace. Private transfers can be arranged through tour operators or taxi services in Zermatt.


Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, it’s important to note that the Gornergrat Railway operates on a schedule, so it’s advisable to check the train timings in advance. Additionally, hiking to Riffelsee Lake may require a valid hiking pass depending on the time of year and any restrictions in place, so it’s essential to check with local authorities or tourist information centers for up-to-date information.


Once you reach Riffelsee Lake, you can spend as much time as you desire exploring the area, capturing photographs, and enjoying the mesmerizing view of the Matterhorn. When you’re ready to return to Zermatt, simply retrace your steps back to the train station or begin your descent down the hiking trail.


Whether you choose to take the scenic railway or hike from Zermatt, the journey to Riffelsee Lake is part of the adventure itself, offering glimpses of the stunning Swiss Alps and the anticipation of witnessing the captivating reflection of the Matterhorn.


Importance of Riffelsee for Photographers

Riffelsee Lake holds a special place in the hearts of photographers, whether they are seasoned professionals or amateur enthusiasts. The lake’s significance lies in its ability to capture the perfect reflection of the Matterhorn, creating an ethereal and magical scene that is a dream for any photographer.


The mirror-like surface of Riffelsee Lake acts as a canvas, perfectly reflecting the towering peak of the Matterhorn. The symmetrical image created in the still water is a sight to behold, offering a unique and captivating perspective of one of the most iconic mountains in the world. Photographers are drawn to this natural phenomenon, eager to capture the flawless reflection and eternalize the beauty of the scene.


Timing is crucial for photographers seeking to capture the perfect shot at Riffelsee Lake. Early morning and late evening tend to be the ideal times, as the light is softer, creating a magical glow over the landscape. During these times, the chances of calm weather conditions are higher, allowing for a clearer reflection and enhancing the overall impact of the photograph.


Photography enthusiasts often spend hours at Riffelsee Lake, experimenting with different angles, compositions, and settings to capture the essence of the Matterhorn. The changing colors of the sky and the subtle shifts in light create a dynamic atmosphere, offering endless possibilities for artistic expression.


In addition to capturing the Matterhorn’s reflection, Riffelsee Lake also serves as a subject of interest for photographers. Its serene surroundings, the vibrant alpine flora, and the dramatic backdrop of the Swiss Alps provide ample opportunities for landscape and nature photography. The lake acts as a natural frame, adding depth and visual interest to compositions.


It’s not just professional photographers who flock to Riffelsee Lake; it’s also a favorite spot for travelers with a passion for capturing memories. In the age of social media, capturing a stunning shot of the reflection is a coveted experience that can be shared and treasured for years to come.


However, while photography is an incredible way to capture the beauty of Riffelsee Lake, it’s important to remember to respect the environment and preserve its natural charm. Visitors should adhere to guidelines and restrictions in place to protect the fragile ecosystem surrounding the lake and ensure that future generations can also enjoy its splendor.


Whether you’re a professional photographer or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, Riffelsee Lake is a place that will inspire and delight. Its importance as a photography destination cannot be overstated, as it offers an unparalleled opportunity to capture the iconic reflection of the Matterhorn and create timeless images that will be cherished forever.


The Magic of Matterhorn Reflections

The Matterhorn, with its striking pyramid shape and towering presence, is one of the most recognizable mountains in the world. However, its allure goes beyond its majestic stature. The magic lies in the reflection of the Matterhorn, which can be witnessed in all its glory at Riffelsee Lake in Zermatt.


When conditions are calm and the surface of Riffelsee Lake is undisturbed, an extraordinary phenomenon occurs. The Matterhorn casts its reflection on the perfectly still water, creating a mesmerizing and symmetrical image. It is as if the mountain has duplicated itself, one rising high above and the other mirrored in the peaceful lake.


The reflection of the Matterhorn is a breathtaking sight that captivates photographers, travelers, and nature enthusiasts alike. It adds an element of enchantment to the already stunning landscape, creating an atmosphere that feels out of this world. The clarity and precision of the reflection are truly remarkable, evoking a sense of wonder and awe.


This natural wonder provides endless opportunities for photographers to capture unique and awe-inspiring shots. The interplay between the mountain and its reflection allows for creative composition and perspective. The symmetrical image invites viewers to contemplate the harmony and balance of nature, leaving them in awe of the grandeur and beauty of the Swiss Alps.


The magic of Matterhorn reflections is not limited to the visual realm. It also evokes a sense of tranquility and serenity. Standing by Riffelsee Lake and witnessing the perfect symmetry of the reflection can be a meditative experience, a moment of peace amidst the vastness of nature. It invites visitors to pause, reflect, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds them.


The reflection of the Matterhorn is not confined to a single season or time of day. Depending on the weather and lighting conditions, the reflection can vary in intensity and character. From the soft glow of the sunrise to the warm hues of sunset, each moment offers a unique and awe-inspiring reflection of the mountain.


Whether you’re an avid photographer, a nature lover, or simply someone seeking a moment of awe-inspiring beauty, witnessing the magic of Matterhorn reflections at Riffelsee Lake is an experience you won’t soon forget. It’s a reminder of the power and majesty of nature and an invitation to immerse yourself in the captivating wonders that the Swiss Alps have to offer.


Precautions and Safety Tips

While the Riffelsee Lake Hike in Zermatt offers stunning views and a memorable experience, it’s important to prioritize safety during your adventure. Here are some precautions and safety tips to keep in mind:


1. Check the weather: Before setting off on your hike, make sure to check the weather forecast. Weather conditions in the mountains can change rapidly, so be prepared for sudden shifts in temperature, fog, or rain. If the forecast indicates unfavorable conditions, it may be best to postpone your hike for another day.


2. Dress appropriately: Wear comfortable and weather-appropriate clothing. Dress in layers to accommodate changing temperatures. Bring a waterproof jacket in case of rain, and don’t forget to wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots with good traction to navigate the terrain safely.


3. Stay hydrated and pack snacks: Carry an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Additionally, pack energy-rich snacks to keep your energy levels up. It’s important to fuel your body during physical activity.


4. Carry essential supplies: Bring a backpack with essentials such as a map, compass, sunscreen, insect repellent, a first aid kit, and a headlamp or flashlight. It’s better to be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances, especially if you plan to explore beyond Riffelsee Lake.


5. Respect wildlife and nature: When hiking in the Swiss Alps, it’s crucial to respect the flora and fauna. Keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid disturbing their habitats. Leave no trace by disposing of any waste properly and following the principles of environmental stewardship.


6. Stay on designated trails: Stick to the marked trails to minimize the risk of getting lost or causing damage to the fragile alpine ecosystem. Deviating from the designated paths can result in accidents or harm to the environment.


7. Hike with a companion: It’s always advisable to hike with a companion, especially if you’re new to hiking or unfamiliar with the terrain. Having someone by your side can provide assistance in case of emergencies and add to the overall enjoyment of the experience.


8. Be mindful of altitude: Zermatt is located at an elevation of about 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) above sea level, and Riffelsee Lake is at an even higher elevation. Take breaks and acclimatize to the altitude to avoid symptoms of altitude sickness, such as dizziness, headaches, or nausea.


9. Follow local regulations: Be aware of any specific regulations or guidelines set by local authorities or park rangers. These may include restrictions on camping, lighting fires, or certain areas that are off-limits.


10. Notify someone of your plans: Before starting your hike, inform someone of your itinerary and expected return time. In case of any unforeseen circumstances, this ensures that someone can alert the authorities if you fail to return on schedule.


By following these precautions and safety tips, you can enjoy a safe and memorable hiking experience at Riffelsee Lake. Take the time to appreciate the beauty of nature and the awe-inspiring surroundings, all while keeping your well-being a priority.



The Riffelsee Lake Hike in Zermatt is a truly remarkable experience that offers breathtaking views, a chance to witness the iconic Matterhorn reflection, and an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Swiss Alps. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone seeking an unforgettable adventure, this hike has something to offer for everyone.


From the moment you set foot on the trail, you’ll be captivated by the stunning landscapes, quaint villages, and lush alpine meadows that characterize the journey to Riffelsee Lake. The well-marked trail ensures a comfortable and accessible hike for hikers of various skill levels.


Arriving at Riffelsee Lake, the magic truly unfolds. The mirror-like surface of the lake perfectly reflects the Matterhorn, creating a symmetrical image that seems almost surreal. It’s a sight that will leave you in awe and provide endless opportunities for photography, allowing you to capture the beauty and serenity of this enchanting location.


Throughout the seasons, Riffelsee Lake offers a different experience. Whether it’s the vibrant wildflowers of summer, the changing foliage of autumn, the snow-covered landscape of winter, or the renewal of spring, each season brings its own charm to this remarkable place.


However, it’s important to remember to prioritize safety during your hike. Check the weather conditions, dress appropriately, stay hydrated, and follow the guidelines set by local authorities. Respecting the environment and the wildlife is crucial to preserving the natural wonders of Riffelsee Lake for generations to come.


In conclusion, the Riffelsee Lake Hike is an extraordinary adventure that showcases the beauty and grandeur of the Swiss Alps. It allows you to witness the magic of the Matterhorn reflection and immerse yourself in the tranquil and awe-inspiring surroundings. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of photography or simply seeking a remarkable outdoor experience, Riffelsee Lake and the surrounding Zermatt region will leave an indelible mark on your heart and create memories that will last a lifetime.