Scenic Circular Hike from Simplon to Spitzhörli

For many, the Simplon Pass is no more than just a beautiful gateway between Switzerland and Italy, but there’s more to it. The pass actually has many hiking trails to offer. Finding a suitable day hike was not as easy, due to the huge choice. Eventually, I did get to make my decision: The round-way up to Spitzhörli (2737 m) it was going to be! The hike takes about 4.5 hours without breaks and leads up to the top of the Spitzhörli from where you can enjoy a wonderful view. 

Together with my partner, I did this hike on a summer day, end of July. I had expected the weather to be cooler (the pass is elevated at 2005 m), but little did I expect the difference to be this huge. The day of the hike, the entire pass was covered in fog. I knew the weather would clear up later in the day, as I could even see the sun and the blue sky through the fog. This is why I was so surprised when we got out the car at 10 am and I find out it was only 5 ℃ up there! One of the major reasons for this insanely cold weather is a heavy wind which seems to blow right through the pass. While we were hiking, we noticed all the other hikers were well prepared, some even having gloves with them. I wish I had done some more research on the area before as I would have probably enjoyed some of the views a lot more. Anyways, you’re officially warned: It gets cold up there!

Beautiful fog-effect

We started the hike just next to the Hotel Simplon-Blick. From here we followed the signs to Spitzhörli, but you’ll notice it’s not always indicated and in some cases it’s even downright confusing. Therefore, it makes sense to keep maps.me handy just to make sure you’re on the right path. As I had mentioned, there are really many trails out there and you could easily end up walking a different trail. Some of the trails were not even on maps.me even though they were well trodden. So, unless you’re in an adventurous mood, stick to maps.me and all will be just fine 😉

Say hello to the friendly cows!

The hike up is very pleasant. The ascent is steady and not too steep. At a certain point we reached a pretty big plateau from where we could walk even for a while. As much as I enjoyed the even walk, this was one of the windiest and therefore also one of the coldest parts of the hike.

Enjoy the even walk!

After about 2 hours you’ll reach Üsseri Nanzlicke from where you have a truly wonderful view which seems to be incapturable by camera! I guess it’s a good reason to go there by yourself, my pictures just don’t do it justice.

The view from Üsseri Nanzlicke doesn’t look great on camera, but is pretty nice in real life

From here, you can go up to the Spitzhörli, which is a short (but a bit steep) 15 min hike. This is also by far the windiest and coldest part of all. My hands were freezing up to a point where I had to stop taking pictures, because my frozen finger could barely press the button anymore. So basically, we went up to the top, quickly enjoyed the view and made our way back down again. 

View from the Spitzhörli

From Üsseri Nanzlicke we continued our walk to the Bistinepass. Once we got down to Üsseri Nanzlicke I could feel my body slowly warming up again, though it was still windy and cold. At a certain point we passed by a mountain hut which was surrounded by small and bigger artworks made of rocks. The biggest and nicest work was a big arch made of stones. 

While we admired the different works, the door suddenly opened and out came a friendly man who offered us a tea which we, of course, gratefully accepted. He told us that he was herding some sheep up there for a 2 month period. I admired the back to basic lifestyle. He made us tea from herbs he had picked in the area, with water he had heated on a wood stove. He told us that a helicopter had provided him with food at the beginning of the 2 month period and that’s it. Obviously, he had many friends visiting him (at the moment he also had a friend over), but apart from that it was him, the sheep, the stones in front of his house and the stunning sunsets every evening. What a life! 

After we had chatted for a bit, my partner and I continued our hike. Not far after passing the house, it looks like you could take a shortcut by following a trail straight rather than turning right, but this trail doesn’t lead anywhere. The myriad of trails gets a bit confusing, but we decided to stick to maps.me in order to make sure we get back to the pass without getting lost. 

Some 20-30 minutes after we left the house, we also started to feel the weather changing. We ended up in a kind of valley which seemed to be protected from the wind. The temperature here was a lot warmer compared to the rest of the hike, in fact the temperature was even “normal” again. So make sure you take appropriate clothes for all weather conditions!

Not only the weather is pleasant during the descent, the view is wonderful as well. The valley is  beautiful with streams and a gorgeous view. Once we got towards the end of this small valley, we could already see the pass on our left hand side. 

View on the Simplon Pass

Eventually we ended up lower than the pass which meant we had to ascend a little bit towards the end again. Depending on the energy level you’ve got left, you can either decide to walk straight back to your car or the bus stop, or you could take the hiking path which passes by a small but pretty lake and the stone eagle statue, the landmark of the Simplon pass which commemorates the Swiss soldiers in World War II. 

From here you’ll have to climb back up a bit
The Simplon-Eagle, overlooking the pass

Obviously, I would advise you to take the touristic route and to enjoy every little bit of the wonderful views this pass has to offer!

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