If you hear about a hike from a local, you have good reason to do everything in your power to find it. This is what brought me to Salanfe Lake and Dailley Gorge, two spectacular hikes that can fill a day, and are only superseded by the drive to find them.
Switzerland is the land of lush green forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. It is a place where the melody of cowbells crosses the alpine winds and views that each mountain vista unveils is often more impressive than the last. For good reason it is one of the most expensive countries in the world, and the only way to experience its natural beauty is by walking through it.
The easiest way to get to the Dailley Gorge and Salanfe Lake is to drive. Located just outside the city of Martigny is the mountain town of Salvan where the adventure begins. At 912m with a population barely scraping past 1000, Salvan is the last stop before you aventure along the pencil thin switchback roads with dark cavernous tunnels built right into the rock leading to Van d’en Bas.
You can hike from Salvan to Van d’en Bas, but in the interest of making this a day trip it’s easier to just drive up and enjoy the adventure of navigating the alpine roads (wondering how buses and winter drivers do it).
Before entering Van d’en Bas you’ll see a small parking area off to the left. This is the first stop, and the easiest way to enjoy Dailley Gorge and its breathtaking Pissevache waterfalls that crash down its narrow cliffs. Lined with elevated wooden bridges and stairs that lead down the gorge, each section revealing impressive engineering and new views of the snowcapped Rhone Valley mountains towering above the horizon in the distance.
For us, a 30 minute vertigo-inducing walk down the gorge was invigorating, and more than enough to enjoy everything Dailley Gorge had to offer. Back at the car, after exploring Dailley Gorge, you’ll need to continue driving up to Van d’en Haute, a tiny hamlet of summer cottages, before the Lac de Salanfe hike begins. Beyond the cottages is a small parking area before you reach the camp ground. Here is where you’ll leave the car and begin your hike to the lake.
The hike to Salanfe Lake takes about an 1hr 15min and has two routes, one of stairs and another road-like path. Plan to arrive in the afternoon for a Swiss lunch at the lakeside Salanfe Inn while you take in the towering peaks of the surrounding mountains. If you want to stay the night along Lake Salanfe the Auberge de Salanfe offers dormitory bunks and private rooms as well as a delectable assortment of traditional Swiss options at its restaurant.
Not planning to ascend any of the big hikes surrounding the lakes my wife and I enjoyed an afternoon hike and traditional Swiss lunch, then opted to head back down the mountain to the comforts of a Martigny hotel rather stay the night at the Auberge. However, from the lake sitting at 1950m, you can attempt a variety of other hikes to enjoy exceptional views of the lake and les Dents-du-Midi on a multi day visit with a stay at the inn.
From here, it’s up to you how you want to plan your adventure to Lake Salanfe and Dailley Gorge but we hope enjoy it as much as we did!
Option: if you’d like to hike up to Dailley Gorge you can do so from Salvan where a hiking trail begins from behind l’Hotel de la Balance.
More: For more information about staying at the Auberge de Salanfe and hikes in the area check out their website http://www.salanfe.ch/en/
Manage to find these hikes and explore the lake and gorge? Have another great hike in the Martigny\Montreux region? Share your comments below and let us know that you thought!