Mark Twain WegRegional hiking tour

On the trail of the American writer Mark Twain: a pleasant walk on the Riffelberg with breathtaking views of the Matterhorn. In his satirical account "Climbing the Riffelberg", Mark Twain poked fun at the expeditions of the 19th century into the alpine world around Zermatt.

Best season

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Recommended: "Climbing the Riffelberg", a booklet containing the narrative in both English and German. In it, Mark Twain (1835–1910) mocked the enormous fuss that surrounded expeditions in the 19th century to explore the mountains around Zermatt.

Pure entertainment and breathtaking views

Hikers who have prepared for their own personal expedition by reading the charming booklet can visit the Hotel Riffelberg right at the start of the trail to breathe some living alpine history. This is Zermatt’s oldest mountain hotel, built in 1855, and Mark Twain very probably spent the night here.

The trail then leads gently down to Riffelalp, where the Riffelalp Resort stands today. The original hotel was built between 1874 and 1884. It can be assumed that Mark Twain saw the hotel under construction, because he arrived in Zermatt on 27 August 1878 and stayed for a considerable time.

The hike and the booklet together promise a wonderfully entertaining experience, complete with glorious views of the Matterhorn, Weisshorn and the famous 4,000-metre peaks that frame Zermatt way below.
Riffelberg - Riffelalp

(Hiking time in reverse direction: approx. 1h 10)

We recommend:
  • Good footwear
  • Hiking poles (optional)
  • Clothing suitable for the weather (always carry a waterproof)
You will find the highest tramway in Europe at Riffelalp.


Mark Twain’s “Climbing the Riffelberg” is suitable for this outing. This little book is available in German and the original English.


Additional information and recommendations are available from the guest information centre on Bahnhofplatz (by the railway station).

  • Plan every mountain tour carefully and adapt to participants’ fitness level as well as the weather and season.
  • Weather conditions can change quickly in the mountains. Appropriate clothing is therefore essential, along with adequate supplies of food and water. In uncertain weather, turn back in good time.
  • Inform others of planned route, and whenever possible avoid going alone.
  • Do not leave the marked routes; do not venture onto glaciers without a mountain guide.
  • It is forbidden to walk on the ski pistes.
  • Please be considerate to other walkers and to plants and animals.
  • Take note of the warning signs drawing attention to the constant danger in river beds and along watercourses below dams and reservoirs.
Mark Twain, "Climbing the Riffelberg/Riffelberg-Besteigung". Zweisprachige Ausgabe Deutsch/Englisch, Verlag Dorfpresse, CH-8135 Langnau, Schweiz, ISBN 3-905480-02-6

Map and arrival





Difficulty medium
Distance 2,5 km
Ascent 37 m
Descent 400 m
Duration 0,50 h
Lowest point 2212 m
Highest point 2579 m

Starting point of the tour:

Riffelberg (2'582 m)

Destination of the tour:

Riffelalp (2'211 m)


  • Nice views
  • Geological highlights
  • Faunistic highlights
  • Tour route
  • With refreshment stops
  • Cultural/historical value
  • Botanical highlights
  • Mountain railway ascent/descent


Tour map (PDF)
Google-Earth (.kml)
GPS-Track (.gpx)

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