Hiking to the two Emosson lakes and the dinosaur footprints, Switzerland

Have a simple family hike by Switzerland’s second largest dam, le barrage d’Emosson.  If you continue further via the Vieux-Emosson, you can get close up with more than 800 dinosaur footprints dating back 250 million of years.

David and I have our favorite places we like to bring our family and friends and the barrage d’Emosson is one of our favorites because the lake is not only beautiful but is easy accessible and the walk by the lake is suitable for all ages.

The dam

The beautiful Emosson dam is situated at the Col de la Gueulaz in the canton of Valais. The dam was build between 1969 and 1975 and it is the second largest dam in Switzerland in terms of its capacity. Its 180 metre wall makes it the 3rd highest dam in Valais, after the Grande-Dixence and Mauvoisin dams.

The fun part of getting there

To reach the dam is perhaps the most fun part, unless using a car. From Châtelard,  you need to take the THREE RAIL SYSTEMS: Starting from Châtelard with a Funicular, and then you will be changing into a Panoramic train and finally ride up on a Mini funic. Please study the picture below.

A MUST ! I really recommend you to take your time visiting this page Here where you can read all about the history of the funiculars and information about each funicular station. On the same site, you will also have all  the information you need from how to get there to the prices, the timetable and other interesting information like family offers and packages.

Photo: Here


The child friendly hike to the Vieux-Emosson dam and Dinosaur footprints.

Please note that I have never done this child friendly version myself. I have gathered all the information from the Charlotte la Marmotte but unfortunately the site is only in french. Please have a peek!

But before everything else, please download the PDF of the trail Here. Unfortunately, the PDF is also only in french.


Hight lights of the child friendly trail:

  •  Dinosaur theme trail with 250-million-year-old footprints.
  • 12 stations of games along the trail.
  • Quiz of the Emossan dam and the environment.

Suitable age of kid: From age of 6

Time: 4 hours

Round-trip: 9 km

Stroller: YES, walk the same way back.

Elevation gain: 200 m

The hike starts from the funicular/parking lot, continue on the Emosson dam, and then on a paved road to the Vieux-Emosson dam and the restaurant Cabane du Vieux-Emosson (only in French). For those who come with a stroller, you need to go back the same way you came as the rest of the way is not suitable for a stroller. 

For those other, either you continue another 30 min - 1 hour walk further alongside old Emosson lake. The trail takes you uphill to the site of the Dinosaur tracks or you can return on the round hike on the Charlotte Marmotte trail.

With a stroller.

The map of the Charlotte la Marmotte trail. Photo : Here

The giant footprints!

More than 800 dinosaur footprints dating back 250 million years were discovered here near the Vieux-Emosson. It was the French geologist Georges Bronner who discovered these footprints on 23 August 1976, after a particularly very hot summer. The rock formations belong to a period before the true dinosaurs developed; the prints match those of primitive reptiles belonging to the group known as Archosaurs, which includes the ancestors of dinosaurs and crocodiles.

Are you interest to know further about these Dinosaur footprints in Emosson, there are guided tours of this site available in July and August each year, with a geologist from the Natural History Museum of Geneva. For all information about the guided tour click Here.

IMPORTANT!  The footprints are usually visible from mid-July (before then, they are covered by snow).

The Dinosaur footprints in Emosson, Switzerland. Photo: Here

Now to the harder hike…

...via Col de Terrace.

Difficulty: Medium

Route: 6.5 hours

Elevation gain: 880 m

Round-trip: 12 km

The hike starts with a gentle uphill and there are many view points overlooking the beautiful Emosson dam…AND the Barberine dam ! Yes, you read it right! The Emosson dam is actually divided in two. The Barverine dam is only visible until early summer and then is submerged by the waters of Emosson Lake.

Frankly, hiking without kids is so much more fun and easy..LOL

You can hike around the lake Emosson which I heard to be flat but exhausting because the tour-du-lac is veeery long!

The rought climb start here! Once up, there is only a way and it’s down…which can be very hard on the knees for me.

Looking down toward the Emosson dam after a steep climb to the Col de Terrace.

When finally up on the Col de Terrace, you will have a beautiful view of the Vieux-Emosson.

David and I in 2011, hiking Lake Emosson.

When we came back to hike with a friend in 2013, the Vieux-Emosson was nowhere to be found! Later we found out that the dam was under construction. Now in 2018, the lake is open for public.

Where is the Vieux-Emosson dam? In summer 2013 we were searching for the dam.

Not yet exhausted, we decided to walk another 200 m up to the lac Vert and Col du Sassey which is also the border to France!

Standing on the Col du Sassy with France on the background.

The very steep trail down leads you to the stone wall of dinosaur footprints and then to the Vieux-Emosson. 

On the way back to our car it was getting dark and I didn’t expected it to be another 200 m of elevation gain so yes I was quite exhausted on our way back. Meaby we should have taken the easy paved road along the shore as you can see on the picture below! But other than that, we had a very lovely day of hike to the Emosson lakes! 

Are you looking for more hikes around Swiss dams and lakes? How about these beautiful dams and lakes?

For the hike to the three beautiful lakes Lago Ritom, Lago Tom and Cadagno please click Here.


How about a hike around the gorgeous Gelmersee? Please click Here.

The gelmersee, Switzerland

Or how about a hike to the Trift suspension bridge and the Trift glacier and lake? Please click Here.

The Trift glacier and lake, Switzerland.

Like it? Pin it!




Family Earth Trek


  1. Wow, Honestly speaking I have never heard of this place but from what I have read in your post I am definitely adding this to my must visit list. The Dinosaur footprints sounds so cool, it would be an incredible experience to have a look at these prints. I will keep in mind to plan a swiss trip in summer just to do the hike and see the footprints.

  2. Although I usually prefer to rent a car and drive around in such places, getting to the dam with a funicular, followed by a panoramic train and then a mini-funicular, sounds pretty cool! The views are gorgeous. Good to know that they have children friendly hiking trails, I’d probably end up taking that one considering I’m not in that great shape 😀 Love your pictures.

Write A Comment

Pin It

Do you want to join us three around the world?

Join our mailing list to receive updates about our latest adventures!

Thanks for subscribing!