Typically, the mountain-hiking season ends mid September. So it did this year: a brief spell of colder weather and heavy precipitation caused many huts and routes to close. It was previously anticipated that this would lead to the definitive end of the hiking season in the Alps.
But we’ve been wrong – and proudly admit that. But also, sad to admit it. Under normal circumstances, and certainly after a year like the previous, we would hope for a wet, cool autumn season. But rather, the opposite has happened: a lack of precipitation, combined with a freezing level of >3000 meter has kept the hiking season open.
Although the general advice would be to do your autumn-hikes in the south of Europe, or in low-lying areas; the mountains are still snow-free until very high altitudes. Similar to a normal summer, actually.
And this is not going to change any time soon. Do bear in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly in this season. From one day to another, it might be 20 degrees colder. Usually this doesn’t happen unnoticed, but it does under certain circumstances.
Benefits of off-season hiking
Hiking off-season is great: you will meet mostly locals and its more quiet in general. You will notice more wildlife, scraping their food together for the hibernation period.
But also the beautiful colors of the forests, the damp soil due to the colder nights and the abundance of mushrooms and blossoming algae is worth the walk. High up in the mountains, you can find fighting goats and deer and the ptarmigans are slowly changing their summer feathers for the winter pack.
Most high-altitude areas are still passable – but do note that most huts are closed.