Saoseo Hut Snowshoe Hike, Graubünden, Switzerland

The snowshoe hike to the Saoseo hut is a great snowshoeing adventure in the beautiful mountains of the Swiss canton of Graubünden (or Grisons, or Grigioni), in the southeast corner of Switzerland. This is a perfect location if you want to enjoy some silence and quietness away from the winter mountain crowds.

Alpine snow landscape in the Graubunden canton in Switzerland close to Saoseo

The view from the trail close to the Val Viola Lake

In winter, this is a great location not only for snowshoeing but also for cross-country skiing. In summer this is a popular location; many will visit the Saoseo Lake (Lago di Saoseo in Italian) and hike the nearby trails.

Also, you can reach both the Lago di Saoseo (Saoseo Lake) and the Lagh da Val Viola, a bigger, uphill lake, on this beautiful route.

Beware though, while reaching the Saoseo Hut (Rifugio Saoseo in Italian) and the Lake is quite easy, the look hike around Lagh da Val Viola is a rather demeaning one that may require an overnight at the hut – which is what I did.

Saoseo Hut at sunset

The Saoseo Hut

Regardless of which you choose, the trail goes through some beautiful country, forests, and the imposing snow-covered mountains around the valley. All the ingredients for a beautiful day out on the trail and the quiet of a snow-covered landscape.

Now let’s get into the details.

Table of Contents

Overview of the Saoseo Hut Snowshoe Hike & Map

First of all a note on safety; before setting out for a snowshoe hike in the area, make sure you check the avalanche forecast and danger levels.

This can be done on the Swiss Natural Hazards website or directly on the Meteoswiss App.

Second, I have marked this trail in one single track, but this hike required an overnight at the hut.

Third, the trail crosses the Lagh da Val Viola (Val Viola Lake) which, unless it’s completely frozen solid, may be dangerous to do.

Max Altitude  2,260 mm
Distance  15,6 KM
Elevation gain  640 m ↑ / 640 m ↓
Hike time  06:00/ 07:00  Hours
Hike Difficulty  Hard

Here is the map of this snowshoe hike. You can download the GPS track for free from the Komoot activity if you wish to do so.

How to get Saoseo to and Parking

The trailhead is in Sfazù, a small locality on Road 29, close to Poschiavo. Essentially you will have to drive toward or down the beautiful Bernina pass. It’s a beautiful drive on either side, usually open all winter.

  • Driving Directions: from the North, i.e. central Switzerland, you will have to drive through the Bernina pass and down the other side, until you reach the Parking area. From the south, i.e. Poschiavo or Tirana, you will have to drive toward the Bernina pass. and stop at the parking area.
  • Parking: there is a large Parking area at the trailhead, in front of the hotel. That’s the Parking Sfazù, paid. The maximum tariff is 10 CHF per day.
  • Public Transport: in summer, you can catch a bus ride to the Saoseo hut. The stop is the Lungacqua bus stop, with PostBus.

If you look on Google Maps, it may likely give you an option to drive to the Saoseo Hut directly. This is not possible in winter, but only in summer if you are a resident.

Sfazu parking area with some cars

The Sfazù parking area, where you can leave the car.

The Snowshoe hiking trail around Rifugio Saoseo

Being this a loop, you could do it either way. I did it counterclockwise, to get the longest and more difficult part of the trail behind. That was about 10 km and c.600m elevation gain. While that may not seem much, it’s harder than it looks because, after the Saoseo Lake, it’s almost a backcountry track that may require breaking a trail through deep snow.

View from the trail on a snowshoe hike to the Saoseo Hut

The upper part of this trail goes through some pristine which will likely be covered in deep snow.

Anyways the trail is initially easy in both directions. If you are doing the trail clockwise, it’s about 5km to the Saoseo hut. This is the best option if you arrive in the early afternoon and want to do the longer part of the trail the day after.

If you arrive in the morning or before noon then you can do as I did; get most of the KMs in first, arrive at the hut in the evening, have a great dinner, and a good night’s sleep, and leave the morning after for another day on the trail.

Cross country skiers viewed through a window in Rifugio Saoseo

The Rigugio Saoseo is also the starting point to explore the area further.

From Sfazù to Rifugio Saoseo

But back to the trail. I’ll describe it counterclockwise since that’s how I did it. The first part of the trail goes mostly through some sparsely inhabited areas with some huts, some forests, small creeks, and lakes.

A small lake in a snow-covered landscape in switzerland

This is quite an easy snowshoe hike up until the lake, where you will be able to see through the woods. You can visit it if you want, although it will just look like a flat white clearing at this time of the year. Also, up until this point, you will be able to follow the white-red-white trail marks of the summer hiking trail.

From the Saoseo Lake, the trail becomes increasingly steep. It’s unlikely to get much traffic, so you may have to break trail from here. No further trail marks to follow from here onwards until you are on your way back from Val Viola Lake. So make sure you have proper navigational devices.

Creek along the snowshoe hiking trail to the Saoseo Hut

One of the many creeks along the trail

Mountain hut in a snow-covered landscape on a sunny day in the Swiss mountains

Also, one of the many huts.

The elevation gain continues until you reach a relatively flattish area right above Val Viola Lake, where the trail steeply descends toward the lake and crosses it. I did this trail at the end of winter when the lake was frozen solid and the ice was very thick. If the Ice is thin, you may need to find a way around the lake.

One of the mountains towering above Lago Val Viola

Val Viola Lake, the flat area in the middle of the image.

Trees in the snow on a winter landscape in Switzerland

From here the trail goes down to the lake where you may need to cross it, assuming it’s safe to do so.

Anyway, once you have reached it, the hardest part of this snowshoeing trail will be behind you. From here onwards, it’s just an easy and wide downhill trail to the hut. It will take approximately 40/50 minutes to get there.

The Saoseo Hut Snowshoe Hike Photos and Photography Tips

In the first part of the trail, it’s the scenery is nice, mostly through the forest with a few creeks and small clearings here and there. The most scenic parts are above Val Viola Lake, where the landscape opens up. So Ideally that’s where you would want to be in the late afternoon or for the golden hour if you want to catch the best light.

View from the snowshoe hiking trail to saoseo hut

Alpine snow landscape in the Graubunden canton in Switzerland close to Saoseo

mountains in the late afternoon light viewed on a snowshoe hike to the Saoseo Hut

In winter, the sun will set opposite the Val Viola Lake so the area right above the lake itself is a great location to catch the setting sun.

The hut isn’t to far from here, about 40 minutes downhill. Still make sure you have a headlamp if you are planning to be here for sunset.

sun setting behind rocks in Lach val viola in graubunden

The sun setting behind some rocks near the Val Viola Lake.

Sun setting behind some trees in the snowy landscape

Drone photo taken on a snowshoe hike to the Saoseo hut in Winter.

Drone photo of mountain landscape in the canton of graubunden at sunset

Drone Photo

I pretty much used only my 24-70mm lens here. I found no need to use any wider or longer lenses. I’ve found the landscape to be too wide for any of those.

Also, assuming you are complying with local regulations, you can fly a drone here. This will get you the best views of the wide landscape and wide valleys of this corner of Switzerland.

Sun setting behind the mountains in a winter and snow landscape.

Sun setting behind the mountains.

Sun setting behind the mountains

Video of the Saoseo Hut Snowshoe Hike

Last but not least, here is a short video of this Snowshoe Hike from my YouTube channel:

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Where to stay

Well, the Saoseo Hut of course! You can book the hit directly on their website, or give them a call. The staff is extremely kind and helpful. The hut is well-organised and has bunk bed accommodations. the food is great too, classic delicious, high-energy “mountain” food!

Bunk beds in the Saoseo Hut

Bunk beds in the hut.

You can book directly on the Saoseo Hut Website or the SAC website.

Additional Resources