The Drône hike

Isaline and her husband last went hiking in Valais exactly ten years ago. A decade on, six of the family are now hiking the same route. They kept a record for us of their impressions of their hike through the Rhone Valley with their four children.

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On Saturday, we tried out one of the family hikes recommended and selected by Swiss Post, the main partner of Suisse Rando. We chose the one in Valais quite simply because we adore the region and this route is very close to our hearts. Ten years ago we did the hike before we had children without ever imagining that we’d do it again one day as a family of six. It is also suitable for children. Ours are aged 3, 6, 7 and 9.

Preparation

The day before we downloaded the new brochure from the website where you’ll also find those from previous years (we tested out the Versoix one to be on the safe side).  You can also order them free of charge via the Swiss Post website.

After reading through the details, we noticed that you can take a bus along almost all of the route and that there are two restaurants. That’s quite reassuring when setting off with the children, because if something happens or if someone doesn’t want to carry on, we can react quickly.

Our day on the trail

As there was a heatwave, we set out early to avoid high temperatures. We left our car in Drône to take the route from the start. A bus at the end of the hike (Pont de la Morge) would bring us back to the car.

Once you’ve parked the car, it’s simply a matter of following what’s indicated on the yellow signs to ensure you stay on the trail. You also have to look out for stones and keep an eye on the ground as sometimes yellow diamonds indicate which path to take where there are no signs.

It’s an easy path because it’s downhill. It runs alongside two irrigation canals – the ‘Lentine’ and ‘Mont d’Orge’ canals. The children loved looking at insects, eating wild strawberries, wetting their t-shirts to cool off and splashing around.

Copyright: Isaline Ackermann

We watched the winemakers at work. I can’t think of a better hike for children than one which follows a body of water. They walk for hours without even noticing.  Our kids even run sometimes, like when they rescued my t-shirt that I’d lost in the canal.

Copyright: Isaline Ackermann

This hike passes through the vineyards and provides magnificent views of the Rhône Valley, Sion and the two castles. I had wonderful memories of it and wasn’t disappointed.

We arrived at ‘Lac de Morge’ after hiking for just over two hours. This is a wonderful, unspoilt place. As it’s a nature reserve, you’re not allowed to bathe. There’s a restaurant, the nature center and toilets. We enjoyed marvelling at the ducks who come along to say hello and took the opportunity to think about the rest of the day and the route ahead.

Copyright: Isaline Ackermann

We’d already covered 6.1 km and had taken a bit longer than the time indicated on the map. The various stops along the route meant it took longer. It’s worth noting that the time estimated on the maps is based on the walking speed of an adult and not a three-year-old child. We had the choice of carrying on for another 45 minutes or taking a bus to get back to Drône. The kids wanted to carry on, so we decided to go to Sion station to catch the next bus to Drône. It took us 20 minutes to reach the Postbuses and to hop on ours.  Needless to say, the children dozed off as soon as the engine started up. There was still far too much to see on the bus and we left with our minds full of new memories of this hiking trail.

Copyright: Isaline Ackermann

Key pointers

Download the brochure before setting off.

Each hike is dedicated to an animal in the region. Ours was Emma the marmot. We couldn’t answer her question because we didn’t finish the hike – but we’ll be back because it seems there are cactus on the trail … but hush. That’s just between us.

If you check the bus timetables before heading off you can stop to catch a bus anywhere along the route without missing a connection. You have to wait for a while at certain times and on weekends.

Don’t set off without enough water and a snack.

Also take a first-aid kit just in case.

The route is in the shade but also gets full sunshine along certain sections. In summer, I’d advise you to wear a cap and to take something to freshen yourself up with. Children need good walking shoes (trainers as the bare minimum) and make sure they walk carefully alongside the canal when you’re above the Rhône Valley. Some sections are steep. The route isn’t dangerous and is quite easy but you still have to be careful.

You could also park in Sion and take the Postbus to Drône.

Isaline Ackermann has been blogging as Therese and the Kids since 2016, telling about her life as a mum of four. Therese is the name of her grandmother who she loves dearly. The likeable French-speaking Swiss also uses her Instagram profile @thereseandthekids to provide us with an insight into everyday life in a large family.