An Amazing Destination Run: Laax, Switzerland
Whether you are a city or country runner you simply can not deny yourself, if the opportunity arises, to run with benefiting high altitudes amongst breathtaking mountainous views and additionally spectacular acres and acres of natural terrain. At the same time, coordinating an outdoor adventure along with year-round recreational fun like skiing, snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, hiking, and biking, while having immediate access to some of the finest chocolate in the world, may all seem to be too good to be true. It is safe to say dreams do come true because all of this does exist and more in a quaint commune called Laax in the beautiful region of Sulserva, in the canton of Graubunden, in Switzerland.
A few facts about Laax:
Located in the central part of Switzerland and just a little over an hour and 30 minutes drive southeast from Zurich and 150 minutes from Milan, Italy, you find yourself deep within the Swiss Alps. A third of Laax is used for agriculture, another third is forested, while the remaining is mountains, rivers, and glaciers. There are just under 2,000 residents in Laax whom 50% are German-speaking which makes Laax more of a tourist destination all year long. A largely known ski and snowboard town in the winter often referred to as a boarder’s palace, the Flims – Laax – Falera ski and snowboard resort resides amongst the vast mountainous ranges and valleys with 235 kilometers of ski trails and a peak altitude of 9,934 feet. Outside the winter activities, summer in Laax should not be forgotten for its simply stunning hiking, mountain biking, and of course, running trails.
Running trails in Laax:
While there is no specific designated running track in Laax, you can certainly find enough trails within the mountains, as well as flatter terrains around some smaller lakes and also along the major road route getting you into and out of the village. All provide unique perspectives, whether at the base of the mountain or at higher elevations, but each most certainly makes you feel at one with nature. Even a short distance run will provide optimal mind and body benefits amongst the scenic landscapes with all its fresh air.
Be sure to keep in mind, however, with the elevation and altitude changes any run will certainly feel much different and more tasking on the cardiovascular system than any regular sea level runs. Be mindful that altitude sickness, a mild negative health effect of high altitude from exposure to low oxygen levels that can cause headaches, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, and trouble sleeping, is very real. Remember to stay hydrated as a preventative measure.
Next, we have mapped out 3 technically different routes ranging from scenic to challenging.
Starting from the Laax base at the ski and snowboard resort, you exit out to the right onto the main roadway called Stradun Cantunal in the direction towards Lag Grond. The course will have a couple of rolling hills and a couple of pedestrian underpasses to keep you safe on the road until you reach a very small but scenic lake. You can choose your distance relative to how many loops you do around the lake. To keep it to about a 5 km distance, you will need to complete at least 2 loops before heading back to the Laax base.
If you would like a map to view of this course, click here.
A similar start as the Lake Run, you will start from the Laax base at the ski and snowboard resort except when you exit onto the main roadway called Stradun Cantunal, you will go left in the direction towards Flims base, a small sub-division adjacent to Laax. About a mile in, you will bear right onto Promenda towards the Flims camping grounds. Take a left onto Via Prau Sura, which will take you through a small neighborhood until to reach the start of the famous Trutg dil Flem, a collection of trails that ranges in size from 4.8 km to 12.5 km. It is famous for the crossing of the seven bridges with an amazing waterfall called Punt Gronda. This route is extremely technical with varying degrees of ascents and descents, narrow passages and overflowing water. These trails can only be used when there is no snow or ice and it is recommended to have a good pair of stable hiking or trail shoes.
An 8 km out and back route from the Laax base to the Punt Gronda Waterfall can be found here.
For those of you looking for a less challenging mountain trail compared to Trutg dil Flem, you can run the wider and flatter dirt road trails from Laax base to Falera base, another sub-division adjacent to Laax. Be warned though, there are still some 200 meter climbs over a progressive and continuous period of 2 to 3 km stretches. From the Laax base, head out right to a smaller trail just parallel to the main road Stradun Cantunal onto Via Larnags. Follow this to the second left where the trail signs will direct you towards Falera. Continue, ignoring 3 left turns until you reach Panoranweg, for panoramic views all the way down to Falera. Here you can choose to brave the hills again or choose a road route Via Falera to Stradun Cantunal back to Laax base.
For the Laax – Falera – Laax 8 km trail run, click here.