Autumn walk in Flims, from Lake Cauma to Lake Cresta

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Autumn walk in Flims, from Lake Cauma to Lake Cresta

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The area surrounding Flims, in the Grisons, is a very popular hiking destination in Switzerland. The beauty and variety of its landscape and the presence of some true natural gems, such as Lake Cauma and Lake Cresta, make Flims a recommended destination at any season of the year. We visited this wonderful region in autumn, when the red, orange and yellow of the trees is perfectly combined with the blue and turquoise of the lakes, making the landscape even more fascinating.

Flims

We love... Flims!

The area around Flims, in the Grisons, is a very popular hiking destination in Switzerland. The beauty and variety of the surrounding landscape and the presence of some true natural gems, such as Lake Caumasee and Lake Cresta, make Flims a recommended destination at any season of the year. During the Summer the warm waters of the Caumasee and the Crestasee make the town a perfect bathing destination. But in Winter the landscape completely changes and the area becomes a favorite destination for winter sports lovers, which here can find excellent and well-equipped ski resorts. We visited this area in Autumn, when the red, orange and yellow of the trees is perfectly combined with the blue and turquoise of the lakes, making the landscape even more fascinating. The area is also famous for the presence of one of the most magnificent landscapes of the Alps: the beautiful Rhine Gorge, which can be discovered by yourself on foot or by bicycle through one of the many hiking or biking trails in the area.

How to get there

Arriving by public transport

Flims Waldhaus, Caumasee bus stop

arriving-train

The vacation area of Flims, Laax and Falera can be easily reached by public transport. By train, many national and international connections pass through Chur. From there, the Postbus number 81 will take you to the stop Flims Waldhaus – Caumasee in about 35 minutes, where the hike begins. However, depending on your departure place and given the long travel time to the destination and the duration of the hike, we recommend that you stay overnight and spend here a full weekend. Tickets for public transport can be purchased through the SBB website or through the SBB app. As always, we suggest you use the same website or app to check timetables and different travel options in advance.

Arriving by car

Flims Waldhaus Parking area

arriving-car

The vacation area Flims, Laax and Falera is located about 30 minutes from Chur and about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Zurich. It is therefore easily accessible by car. From Zurich or Basel, you can follow the A3/A13 highway to Chur and take exit 18 to Reichenau. From here, simply take road 19 and drive along it for about 8.5 km and then turn onto “Via Nova” and the “Promenade” for about 3.5 km. Several paid parking options are available in Flims Waldhaus. Parking fees can also be payed via smartphone using the Parkingpay app or the Twint service. For the more conservative, it is also possible to pay with coins through traditional parkimeters. At this link  you can find all the information and a helpful parking map (available only in German).

Hike overview & map

Our hike starts at the bus stop Flims Waldhaus – Caumasee and leads through forests, lakes, viewpoints and green valleys to Flims Dorf and back to the starting point. It is a circular route of about 14.5 km that can be covered in more or less three and a half hours. The path is well marked during the whole route and it is almost entirely on gravel roads. For this reason it doesn’t have particular difficulties and it is in fact largely frequented by hikers of every kind: young people, old people and families with children of every age. Caution is required only during the short detour to the Felsbach gorge, near the Crestasee, where you will leave the main path for a forest path and where the presence of water and dampness can make the ground a bit more slippery. Along the way you’ll find a couple of refreshment stations, benches for relaxation, barbecue areas and toilets. All the current information about the tourist area Flims-Laax-Falera, including the webcams available in the area for a better evaluation of the weather conditions, can be found at this link.
Flims-Cauma-Cresta-elevation-profile

From Flims Waldhaus to the Lake Cauma

To enjoy the beauty of the autumn foliage, this year we decided to spend a weekend in Graubünden, in Flims, where we arrived on Saturday morning and left on Sunday afternoon. As a base for our weekend we chose the Hotel Des Alpes*, a 3-star hotel with friendly staff, clean rooms and fair prices. In addiction, it is just a few steps away from the bus stop and we slept very well and ate excellent food in the restaurant-pizzeria “il forno”, which offers Italian and also Swiss dishes. Our route starts just behind the hotel. From here, a short descent leads us to a paved road in the middle of the woods and gives us a first taste of what will be the main theme of the entire weekend: Autumn and its colors! For this first part of the hike we have chosen an alternative route: we don’t go down to the lake shore immediately, but we continue along the path that leads to the elevator, a little higher up. This allows us to see the lake and its colors from an elevated position. Of course, we didn’t give up on walking the circular trail along the shoreline as well! We therefore stretched the route a bit, but it was certainly worth it and we recommend you to do the same. 
From there, we follow the path through the woods for about 1.2 km to a crossroad. If, like us, you decide not to give up the path that goes around the lake, then you will have to opt for a sharp curve that will take you on a path parallel to the one you just made, but a little lower. Otherwise, or if you want to shorten the path, you can continue straight to the viewing platform “Il spir”. We, as already mentioned, want to enjoy the Caumasee in all its splendor, so we continue on the path further to the right and in just under 250 meters we are on the shores of the lake. From here it’s an incredible series of observation points and views. The official path passes a little higher than the water, but in this season, with the bathing facility closed, you can really explore the lake very closely, invading the spaces that are usually reserved for bathers. To do the full loop from here you’ll have to walk about 2 km. You should be able to do it in about 35 minutes, but to tell the truth we stopped so often to take pictures and observe the view that it took us much longer! Along the way you’ll also find the Caumasee restaurant, for a snack or a coffee, and several relaxation areas where you can lie down, rest a bit or just contemplate. At the end of the tour, however, the path will lead you back to the crossroads, where this time we will opt for the route that leads to the viewing platform “il Spir”.

From the Lake Cauma to the Lake Cresta, with a detour to the "Spir" platform

From the crossroad begins a long path through the woods that gives us some of the most beautiful photos of the foliage of this excursion and, perhaps, of this year. Also this part of the route, like the previous one, develops on a paved path and it is almost entirely on the flat. We continue for about 1 km, slowly approaching the side of the mountain that descends to the Reno. From this point, in fact, the path is surrounded on the left by green valleys with cows, goats and horses and on the right by the fascinating Rhine Gorge. A few elevated pitches allow you to see them from time to time. If you arrive here for lunchtime, about 500 meters further on you’ll find a few picnic tables and the Conn restaurant. If necessary, you will also find public toilets here. A little further on, after 300 meters, you will find the viewing platform “Il Spir”, probably one of the best observation points of the so-called Ruinaulta, Anterior Rhine Gorge. On weekends the viewing platform can be quite crowded, so be patient but don’t miss the opportunity to see the view from above, even if only for a few minutes.
We take a couple of pictures and continue our route towards the Crestasee. We take a few steps back in the direction of the Conn restaurant, but just before the restaurant we turn right. The path initially passes between a few wooden houses, but a little further on it plunges into the forest and from here it continues on a slightly uneven ground due to the roots of the trees.
After about 3 km, the Crestasee slowly begins to show its face. We have to be honest: if we have arrived here in Flims it is mainly because of the fame of the Caumasee. The Crestasee, in fact, is much less known and photographed and perhaps for this very reason we did not have high expectations. When planning this hike, we had even thought about cutting this part of the route to spend time on other equally beautiful places in the area. But the reality is that of the two lakes, the Crestasee is the one that impressed us the most: the colors of its waters are probably less impressive and more ordinary, compared to those of its bigger brother, but the way in which it serves as a mirror to the beautiful surrounding nature is incomparable. We were entranced admiring it for quite some time before resuming our walk. We also took advantage of the open kiosk on the shore to eat a slice of apple pie, drink coffee, and catch our breath for the final sprint back to the hotel.

From the Lake Cresta to Flims Dorf, along the Felsbach gorges

A little higher up than the Lake Cresta, at the Gasthaus Crestasee, our walk to the hotel in Waldhaus begins. However, we plan to take a short detour from the main route and to follow the narrow, damp path along the Felsbach Gorge. This path, which is not very well trodden, runs through the wood close to the characteristic gorges carved by the river Flem. It is a narrow and wet path, so it can be slippery in some places and requires some attention. At the beginning the gorges are not far from the path, but slowly they get closer to it until they touch it. Some points, more prominent, are fenced to prevent accidents. If you are here with children, therefore, be very careful. The gorges themselves have a discreet charm, but very interesting is the way the rock is carved and polished to perfection by the water. About 500 meters after the start of the trail, a viewing platform allows you to get the best view of the gorges and the small waterfall from which they originate. From here, the uphill path to the official route towards Flims begins. This ascent of about 800 meters is slightly steep and requires a little effort but not too much. It develops in the woods, on terrain and rock, and then returns to a gravel road. We walk another 800 meters in a shady path and we also start to get a little cold. So we start to desire to reach a more sunny path. We opted for a detour from the originally planned route, leaving the forest path and heading towards Flims Dorf through urban and residential areas. This detour, however, gives us amazing views of the valley, sunny and surrounded by imposing mountains. In a little more than half an hour’s walk and about 1.5 km we are in Flims, where we have the opportunity to take a short tour of the village and to drink an aperitif at the tables of an outdoor bar. We enjoy the last rays of sunshine of the day, comfortably seated and with a glass in hand. From Flims, following the Promenade for about 1.5 km you can easily return to Waldhaus without too much effort, but if you are tired you can of course take advantage of the shuttle bus or the frequent bus lines that pass by here.

Tips

1

All hotel guests receive a special paper Guest Card that allows them to take advantage of discounts and special offers for attractions, museums and transportation. Among other things, the card allows free use of the shuttle bus that connects Flims, Laax and Falera. It’s a good way to save money on transfers while maintaining a wide flexibility in the choice of destinations. But beware: the normal PostAuto lines are not included in the offer! So if you decide to opt for a regular bus (of course more frequent), you will have to buy a ticket for the ride! Here you can find all informations about the (digital) Guest Card.

2

During our stay in Flims, we discovered by chance the small town of Falera. A true jewel! We spent some time in Falera on Sunday (we have told you about it in this posts), choosing it as the starting point of an easy walk in the woods up to Laax. If you have some free time, we recommend you do the same!

3

The Rhine Gorge is one of the area’s main attractions. With an extensive network of hiking and biking trails, they certainly deserve to be explored during a dedicated visit. We, therefore, will certainly return to Flims. What about you? If you decide to explore the Rhine Gorge, please let us know by leaving a comment below.

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