Regional Comparison: Graubünden

Graubünden Trail Running

For an international trail running audience, the Graubünden is the least known of all the regions. It’s where locals go to get away from the masses but stay in the Alps. And, it’s probably the best trail running destination you’ve never heard of.

But you probably do know it for winter sports. It’s home to Davos and St. Moritz, long famous for skiing, and increasingly popular for mountain biking. Now, Graubünden is striving to establish itself as a trail running destination as well.

If a quiet trail running experience is your thing, but you’ll be visiting the Alps in the summer months, this is the place for you. Best of all, the Graubünden may be the most beautiful place in the Alps for fall colors. Not only are the golden larch spectacular, but the lakes, the light, and the overall feel of the place sparkle in the autumn months. It’s pure magic. And again, if it’s solitude you’re seeking, running the trails here in October offers solitude even with all that fall color.

Fun folks and food, vibe we can all appreciate

Vibe

Here, the vibe-ometer picks up on some traces of energy, even if the main clientele of the region is post-retirement age. The Graubünden is a bit more diverse thanks to an abundance of cross-border workers and elite athletes using the high elevation training centers. If Rolls Royces and fur-covered everything is your thing, the town of St. Moritz is a must see, but for mountain athletes, you’ll also find a lot of relatively quiet trails.

Logistics

Unless you base yourself in one town and do everything there, you’ll have some travel between trails, sometimes multiple hours worth. Moving around with trains and buses is possible, but being efficient at the same time becomes difficult. The Upper Engadin Valley, including Zuoz, Pontresina, St. Moritz, and Maloja, is the hub of the region, so if you’re looking to basecamp yourself, that’s the place to be. But if you want to see other areas, like Val Müstair or Brigels, you’ll need to spend some hours in transit.

Traffic

Compared to all the other regions, this is where the Graubünden shines. It might be busy by any North American mountain area’s standards, but in comparison to other hotspots in the Alps, it’s as mellow as it gets.

In the fall, when tourists are back to work, kids are in school, and most travelers are too fearful of bad weather and short days to come to the Alps, that’s when you can really have not only the trails to yourself, but also what might be the most beautiful fall colors and landscapes in the Alps.

The Alps easternmost 4000er, the Piz Bernina (left)

Scenery

Most people haven’t heard of the Graubünden because of its lack of iconic landmarks. There’s no Matterhorn, Mont Blanc or Eiger to attract the “Things to See in your Lifetime” crowd. Instead, there are pristine high mountain lakes, larch covered hillsides, unique curvy Romansch architecture dotting the landscape, and the Alps easternmost 4000-meter peak, Piz Bernina with its famously ice capped north ridge, the Biancograt. 

Val Surses Savognin is a little paradise

Variety

As Switzerland’s largest canton, variety comes easy. On one side of Pontresina you’ll find glaciers and alpine terrain while on the other side lies golden tundra. Shaley ridgelines stretch in all directions near Brigels; ancient, twisted rock formations rise above Flims; and in the far east, Switzerland’s National Park is full of wild forests, but not full of trails, infrastructure or people. We’ve done our best to provide runs to get you into these different landscapes. And of course there is the Via Grischuna, which if you really want to see the Graubünden, consider it a sampler as it’ll hit many of the region’s hotspots.

So creamy

Trails

Graubünden has had the lowest ratio of trails we approved to those that didn’t work out for good running. When they don’t work out, it’s usually due to being too rocky for long sections, karst, or way too many cows and all the problems they inflict on the landscape. 

But, while we’ve had a lot of bad luck, the good trails have been great. Runs like Brigels, Zuoz, Val Müstair, Davos’ Sertigtal, Rosegtal, and Val Surses are some of the better runs on our site. Wait, there’s also Val Funtauna and Piz Languard. In the Graubünden, when it’s on, it’s on.

Through some exploration, cussing, and ankle rolls, we’ve weeded out the less than ideal trails to run so you don’t have to. The good ones are in our Graubünden Trail Running Guide.


Where to Run in the Alps

If you’re trying to understand the Alps different trail running hotspots, we’ve created a Regional Comparison series that looks at Chamonix, the Valais, Berner Oberland, and the Graubünden.

Share:

Your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *