We decided to do a hike down to the Riffelsee lake in the late morning from Gornergrat. It was quite beautiful. We decided to continue onward to Riffelberg rather than returning from the nearby Rotenboden station. We passed by a smaller but even more beautiful lake on our way. Ultimately, we ended up hiking for much longer and further than we had planned!
We started our hike by taking a look at the glaciers below the Gornergrat train station. They’re always so very impressive to see!
The weather was looking good as we started walking downhill, initially adjacent to the cog train tracks.
This train was headed up the mountain as we were headed down.
We considered walking through this tunnel under the tracks as there is a small pond on the other side, more or less. It didn’t really look like there was any trail there though so we continued onward instead.
There are crosses in many places on this mountain, not just the peaks.
Another train, this one headed down. It is probably the same one we just saw going up. We haven’t seen more than one passenger train at Gornergrat yet.
A really great view of the glaciers!
Matterhorn towers over everything nearby. On the left, one of the glaciers that doesn’t make it all the way down.
Looking up, we could still see the 3100 Kulmhotel at Gornergrat.
Another cross! This one was tiny compared to all the others we’ve seen.
The trail passed pretty close to the tracks here. We took a look both up and down.
Eventually, we were able to see our destination below us, the Riffelsee. It was still far away though, both in distance and elevation.
Looking to the left of the trail, we could see that we had already descended a good amount.
We noticed what looked like a tiny sign atop some cairns off to the side of the trail. Beyond this point, the trail started to descend more steeply. Before heading down, we went for a closer look. It turns out it was a QR code! We ultimately found perhaps 6 or 7 of them by the end of our hike.
While taking a look at the QR code, we heard a noise to our left. We noticed a small avalanche! It looks like a snow cornice above a steep rock slope broke and fell.
As we continued onward, we noticed an oddity towards the train tracks to our right. The remnants of a rough stone structure.
We saw another train heading down the mountain.
And another train on its way up. This photo and the previous one were taken with the same focal length so we were making slow but steady progress!
We didn’t take any photos of this steep portion of the trail as it wasn’t particularly photogenic and we were focused on working our way down. But we did take this one as we descended past most of the steep portions.
Yet another train, this one on its way down. Probably the one we saw going up previously.
We decided to take a side trail as it seemed it would take us closer to the glacier. As we were hiking on the mostly flat trail, we saw a tandem paraglider take off from the mountain just above us! They were headed towards the Matterhorn. We watched them as they got smaller and smaller and eventually turned behind some terrain.
Eventually, we reached a QR code atop a small hill on the trail. There was a great view of the adjacent glacier from here.
Although the trail continued, we didn’t know where it went and it was taking us away from our destination. So, we turned around and backtracked.
We took a look at the bottom of a few of the glaciers to our left as we walked back. We photographed these glaciers at various elevations during our hike.
We were almost at Riffelsee! There were many people here, much more than we encountered on the trail. They came from a train station at the top of this hill. The station can’t be seen but the catenary wires for the train are visible.
Finally, the lake was right in front of us! And we could see that its surface was calm and highly reflective!
We had to hike towards the right as the way down was not as steep there. On the way, we got a full reflection of the top of the Matterhorn.
We got a better reflected Matterhorn once we reached the edge of the lake.
We were surprised to see so many little fish in the water!
After reaching the Riffelsee, we had a choice of either hiking up a bit to the train station, or continue down to the Riffelburg station. We decided to keep on going. After a short walk, we saw a second smaller lake that was shaded from the sun.
Looking back, we could no longer see the Riffelsee.
This smaller lake, a pond really, was extremely still and offered a fantastic reflection of the Matterhorn!
We continued hiking downwards, generally in the direction of the Matterhorn. We didn’t encounter very many people on this portion of the trail.
We noticed what appeared to be a dried out pond right after we took a junction on the trail.
This part of the trail was cut into the side of a steep slope. Not really the type of trail that I enjoy! But, we continued on.
Looking back towards the dried out pond and the mountains to the southeast of the Matterhorn.
For the first time on our hike, we could see trees and buildings in the valley below!
Looking upwards, we could see the 3100 Kulmhotel at Gornergrat. It was the first time seeing it again in a long time!
Eventually, we could see civilization further down the valley!
At this point, the trail flattened out. We periodically took a look behind us at the Matterhorn.
We could finally see Riffelberg in front of us!
We passed by a small chapel as we got closer to the station and other buildings around it.
Finally, we reached the station and took the train back up to Gornergrat.
We ended our day by taking a look at the glacier once again as well as the ever present Matterhorn.