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Water during a mountain hike

We will be taking water on our hikes (Zermatt and Grindlewald areas), but if we need more, are the streams or waterfalls along the way pure enough to refill our water bottles and drink from? In some small towns I've seen some "troughs" with water spouts that I believe are to drink from, but not sure if anything like that along the mountain trials? Thanks

Posted by
768 posts

Generally the trails in those areas intersect the train and cable-car stations and mountain huts enough that water is available. If you tell us the exact hikes you are thinking about we can probably tell you the water spots. There are enough cows and sheep in those areas that I'd use a water filter if using streams or lakes. If water is coming out of a spout high enough to lean over and drink from it is generally assumed to be safe. Still, I prefer water from the bathroom faucets which are found in the stations and huts.

The only time I had to worry about extra water was the 6 hr hike from Schynige Platte to First. The high altitude dries you out fast, but fortunately there is a hut with refreshments about half way through.

Posted by
6788 posts

I've always been trained to NEVER drink from a mountain stream or other water source, even way up in what you may believe to be pristine high country. There are animals (both livestock and also wild animals) that can be and often are well above even the most adventurous hikers. You know the old joke about what bears do in the woods, and what they say runs downhill.

Parasites may always be present in even the most beautiful streams that flow through wilderness. Those may be tempting, but it's not worth the risk IMHO.

Posted by
25 posts

@shoe we hope to do the Eiger Trail and First Balchalpse and Gornergrat to Riffleberg and Possibly Five Lakes. I had thought it might not be healthy to drink directly so thanks for any info on water spots to refill!

Posted by
768 posts

I typically have a quart of water in my backpack when hiking in the Berner Oberland, and it's been enough except for the 6 hr hike I mentioned earlier. It should be fine if you hike downhill on the Eiger trail (otherwise bring 2).

First to Bachalpsee is 50 min each way, and is fairly level. My quart was plenty each time I took that trail. Also, there is a nice water fountain just outside the bathrooms downstairs at the restaurant at First.

Gornergrat down to Riffelsee is downhill all the way, and I don't think I even took a sip on that trail. You don't have to walk back to Gornergrat, just cut over to the next train station down from Gornergrat. The 5 lakes hike, I didn't get low on water, but you might vary, so take 2 quarts if you're worried.

Posted by
33339 posts

the fountains found all around and the running troughs are piped water and are excellent to drink. In the rare case that this is not true there will be a sign, "Kein Trinkwasser" (not drinking water). The same is not true for streams, waterfalls or lakes. If you are staying in the back country always use the appropriate filters and tablets.

Posted by
6682 posts

In the rare case that this is not true there will be a sign, "Kein
Trinkwasser" (not drinking water).

Or, if you've happened to wander in to a French speaking area, "Eau non potable".