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Zermatt Winter Hiking Trail
Sure, you can ski or snowboard in Zermatt. That's the "cool" thing to do, right? Isn't that the only reason to go? Not so much. About four hours before this photo was taken, we stood on a footbridge in downtown Zermatt and watched thousands of tourists packed into huge tour buses unload like ants and descend upon the cable cars to go up the mountain. My wife isn't able to ski very well, and I wanted to take some photographs without constantly looking over my shoulder worrying about a cluster of teenage snowboarders crashing into me or an impatient speed skier bearing down on me and looking annoyed as they whizzed past. Lucky for us, Zermatt has a huge selection of prepared winter walking trails, and this is one of them, just below the rail stop at Riffelalp. The signpost here lets walkers know there is a warm hut/restaurant up ahead serving food and drinks. If you look through the trees, you can see the Matterhorn. From Riffelalp, you can get back to the town in about two hours if walking downhill, but don't forget to stop for some gluwhein (hot, mulled red wine) to keep your parts moving well in the cold. You can even great a plate of rosti (hash browns) or salad and beer to refresh your spirits. You won't come across many walkers (we saw two the whole way down) and the quiet tranquility of the snow and trees is simply unforgettable. And best of all? No lift tickets, skis, helmets, or special passes are required. It's completely free.
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Original whistler auddev