[cdt-l] Via Alpina

Eric West ericallanwest at gmail.com
Sun Aug 27 06:26:29 CDT 2006

My girlfriend and I spent a week or so hiking on the Via Alpina Red
Trail along the France/Italy border last month. Unfortunately, the
waymarking was not consistent enough for us to rely exclusively on the
online maps, and the trail kept diving down to road level at the end
of each stage, often on a paved road. It seems that most waymarked
routes in Western Europe, including the well-known GR routes in
France, are designed with overnight accommodation in mind; it's like
they're a long series of day-hikes rather than true crest or
wilderness trails.

For example, guidebooks rarely mention anything about water sources,
assuming that you'll fill up your bottles at the refuge or bed and
breakfast you stayed at the previous night, and they almost never
mention anything about campsites. I think there is great potential for
a high-level route through the Alps, and the Via Alpina could
definitely be the foundation for such a route; we generally found the
scenery to be quite nice, and the trails weren't that heavily used.
But the Via Alpina as it stands is probably not that attractive to
hikers on this list.

The British magazine TGO ran an article in April 2005 that gives a
good overview of each of the five Via Alpina trails (quick
registration required):


There's also a French-language site for a hiker who is currently
traversing the Alps from Nice to Vienna using the Via Alpina trails:


If anyone has links to other Via Alpina sources, please post them.

Eric "Pacer" West

On 8/11/06, jonathan at phlumf.com <jonathan at phlumf.com> wrote:
> Thanks for posting this link...
> What a cool site too - just about everything you need is right there. One
> thing though, the "whole route" is 5000km, but there are many parallel
> routes. I couldn't find any data for what "just the red route" is for
> example.
> It seems they're really pushing for this to be a "tourist track", with
> guide services, huts and the like - along with nothing too steep or
> "wild". I liked this quote:
> Consistent services: accommodation and catering every evening
> How civilized :-)
> I know there are some other less-civilized routes across the Alps... will
> have to look into that. It seems that one could put together a really long
> through-hike combining some of the via Alpina route(s) with some
> alternates to go higher than 3000m in places...
> -Jonathan
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