When you say “Grisons, Switzerland”, what comes to mind? For most people this Swiss canton conjures images of skiing in the Alps, for example the ski resort in Laax/Flims/Falera. Most of the area focuses the winter sport that makes Switzerland one of the top winter destinations in Europe.
What happens if you want to do something else besides skiing? Maybe the weather is bad? Maybe you are sore and just want a day to do something else? If you like hiking but are looking for an easy day, may I present the Crestasee/Felsbachschlucht combination.
Crestasee (or Lag da Cresta in the Rhaeto-Romance languages spoken in addition to German in the area) means Cresta Lake and is a lake without any tributaries, although it does have an outflow. It survives on rain and snow melt from the nearby mountains. A wooded area surrounds the lake but you can access both by foot and by bus. On a clear day when the water is still (which it usually is), it reflects the surrounding mountains, providing a picturesque tableau of the area.
The lake itself is small and you can walk around it in about half an hour. You can spend extra time at the guest house and restaurant that lie on the edge of the lake as well as swimming inside it, although you need permission from the authorities (located in a handy little kiosk on the lake’s edge near the aforementioned restaurant/guest house).
From the lake, the Felsbachschlucht is easily accessible. The Felsbachschlucht (Schlucht = gorge/ravine) has been cut relatively quickly (only over the past 10,000 years, which is fast in geological terms) by the river Flems. While only a few hundred metres from the Crestasee, these two water phenomena are actually completely separate from each other (at least for the moment).
The Felsbachschlucht is surprisingly deep and narrow. You can walk to the very edge of the ledges as the river has cut through the bedrock, meaning that the ledges themselves are very firm. If you do not like being on a ledge, there are also two points. The first is a half-bridge that sticks out over the Felsbachschlucht and the other is a viewpoint with barriers towards the beginning of the Felsbachschlucht. Both offer nice views of the gorge but you will miss the series of waterfalls in the middle where watching from the ledges would be the most advantageous.
Both the Crestasee and the Felsbachschlucht offer circular routes. They can be combined and completed within approximately 2 hours for a total of approximately 6 km. The actual distance and time vary depending on what you decide to do and see, of course. On the day that we went, snow was falling thick and fast. However it was not uncomfortable for hikers and we met others on these trails. Due to these weather conditions, I was unable to get the mountain reflections on the surface of the water. We couldn’t even see the mountains. However the walk and the views were worth it regardless. We were recommended to visit this area no matter the weather by a local friend and we would recommend it as well!
Here are some more pictures from the area: