Hiking trail

Mark Twain Trail (Nr. 18)

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.

360° Panorama
  • Type Hiking trail
  • Difficulty medium
  • Duration 0,50 h
  • Distance 3,4 km
  • Ascent 0 m
  • Descent 375 m
  • Lowest point 2208 m
  • Highest point 2582 m


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)

This hike is marked on the signposts as “Mark Twain Weg”.

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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Map and arrival