Vorderrhein driving tour, Rhine River
This driving tour along the Vorderrhein begins in Reichenau and ends in the hamlet of Tschamut.
From Reichenau road 19 (signposted to Flims and Disentis), after crossing the Rhine, goes up to the village of Tamins (Romansch Tumein, "hill", alt. 668 m/2,192ft; bypass), dominated by the prominent spire of its 16th C. parish church. The road then curves round to cross the Lavoi-Tobel (gorge) and winds its way up the hillside, with views to the left of the Domleschg (valley of the Hinterrhein) and Schloss Rhäzuns, one of the many old castles in the valley, and of the gorge carved by the Vorderrhein through the great Flims landslide. Shortly before Trin the highest point on this section of road (895 m/2,936ft) is reached. On a crag to the left is the old tower of Hohentrins castle.
Trin to Flims
4km/2mi from Tamins is Trin, German Trins (890 m/2,920ft), attractively situated on a terrace above the gorge of the Vorderrhein. The road then continues downhill, with a view to the rear of the tower of Hohentrins. In 1km/0.6mi it bends to the right, and one can see on the left the hamlet of Digg, picturesquely situated on the hillside. Then follows a fairly level stretch of road under the sheer cliffs of the Porclas defile, with meadowland and forest on the valley floor below. At the Trinsermühle (Romansch Trin-Mulin, 833 m/2,733ft; restaurant), an old mill, there are beautiful waterfalls. The road then climbs again, with many bends, along the edge of the gigantic masses of rock debris which tumbled down from the Upper Segnes valley during the Ice Age, covering some 52 sq. km/20 sq. mi of the Rhine valley. Off the road to the left is the little Cresta-See (850 m/2,789ft). Beautiful view of the valley below. 6.5km/4mi beyond Trin is Flims.
Flims to Illanz (Vorderrhein driving tour)
After Flims the road passes a parking place (on right) for two cableways and bends to cross the Neue Stennabrücke (new Stenna bridge) over the Flembach (Segnesbach). After passing through the park-like landscape of the hotel settlement of Flims Waldhaus the road winds its way through a beautiful stretch of woodland and meadowland. 1km/0.6mi further on, a side road goes off on the left to a camp site; then in another 1km/0.6mi, at Mulania (on right), is the lower station of a cableway 4,045 m/13,272ft long to Crap Sogn Gion (upper station 2,220 m/7,284ft; large restaurant, ski-lifts) and Crap Masegn (2,477 m/8,127ft). The road then runs downhill and uphill again on a moderate gradient, crosses the Laaxer Bach and descends again above the deeply slashed Laaxer Tobel (gorge). The road continues via Laax to Ilanz and from here it follows a fairly straight and level course to Disentis along the left bank of the Vorderrhein, close to the Rhätische Bahn, through a stretch of the valley known as the Pardella. 2km/1mi beyond Ilanz is Strada.
Strada (to Waltensburg), Switzerland
Near Strada (720 m/2,362ft; bypass) is the charmingly situated little village of Schnaus (higher up on the right). 2.5km/1mi farther on is Ruis station (736 m/2,415ft; the village is above the road on the right). The road crosses the Panixer Bach, with the ruins of Jörgenberg Castle (495 m/1,624ft) on a wooded crag on the right. 4km/2mi beyond Strada a road goes off on the right and winds its way up (3km/2mi) to Waltensburg.
Waltensburg to Tavanasa
In Waltensburg (Romansch Vuorz, 1,010 m/3,314ft) there is a church containing fine 14th and 15th C. frescoes. From Waltensburg a by-road, with extensive views, runs along a natural terrace to Brigels (5km/3mi).The main road continues along the left bank of the Vorderrhein, then crosses to the other bank and curves under the railroad. It reaches Tavanasa (800 m/2,625ft) at the narrow mouth of the Tscharbach valley.
Above Tavanasa are two ruined castles, Schwarzenstein to the left and Heidenberg to the right. Here a side road on the right crosses the river to Danis and winds its way up (6km/4mi north) to the village of Brigels, Romansch Breil (1,283 m/4,210ft), a popular summer and winter sports resort in a sunny expanse of Alpine meadows, with the Late Gothic churches of St Maria (restored 1963-66) and St Martin. In the surrounding area (good walks with far-ranging views) are a number of pretty chapels, including the chapel of St Eusebius, with 14th C. frescoes on the exterior.Route over the Kisten pass (2,638 m/8,655ft) to Tieffehd (9-10 hours).
Zignau (Ringgenberg Castle ruins)
From Tavanasa the road to Disentis continues along the wooded slopes above the right bank of the Vorderrhein. Off the road to the left is Zignau, at the mouth of the wild Val Zavragia, and the ruins of Ringgenberg Castle. Then on a stretch of concrete road to a bridge over the Vorderrhein and past St Anne's chapel (1716, on right), on the spot where the "Upper" or "Gray" League of the people of the Grisons against the oppressions of the nobility was renewed in 1424.6km/4mi from Tavanasa is Trun.
Trun, German Truns (855 m/2,805ft), is a village of 1,600 inhabitants at the mouth of the Val Punteglias, which runs down from the Brigelser Hörner (3,250 m/10,663ft; 10 hours, with guide). In the village are the parish church of St Martin (1660-62), with a Romanesque tower, and the former residence of the Abbots of Disentis (1675), now housing the district court and a museum, with handsome rooms (interesting coat-of-arms of the communes belonging to the Gray League and of all district judges since 1424). Above the village stands the 17th C. church of St Maria della Glisch.
Rabius (Val Sumvitg), Switzerland
From Trun the road climbs gradually to the village of Rabius (955 m/3,133ft), where a road on the left crosses the Rhine to Surrhein (892 m/2,927ft) and climbs the wooded Val Sumvitg (Somvixer Tal to 6.5km/4mi south) Tenigerbad, Romansch Bagn Sumvitg (1,273 m/4,177ft) (indoor pool). From Tenigerbad the road continues 1.7km/1mi to Runcahez (1,300 m/4,265ft), on a small artificial lake.
A main road runs from Rabius to Somvix, Romansch Sumvitg (summus vicus, "highest village"; 1,050 m/3,445ft), with the Gothic chapel of St Benedict. Below, on the Rhine, lies the village of Compadials (965 m/3,166ft). Beyond this is a beautiful stretch of road high up on the hillside, running through a defile and then over a new bridge (to the right the old covered wooden bridge) spanning the deep gorge of the Val Russein, which runs down from Mt Tödi. The road then ascends the rocky hillside and comes to Disentis, 7.5km/5mi from Somvix.
From Disentis road 19 leads up the Val Tavetsch on a moderate gradient, high above the river, with picturesque views of Disentis and its white abbey to the rear and the villages on the slopes of the valley downstream. Ahead can be seen, on the hillside to the right, the villages of Acletta (chapel), Segnes (1,336 m/4,383ft) and Mompé Tujetsch (1,397 m/4,584ft). The road then continues, with expanses of coniferous forest, passes close to a high viaduct on the Furka-Oberalp railroad and curves round to cross a mountain stream, the Bugnei.9km/ 6mi from Disentis is Sedrun.
Sedrun (1,401 m/4,597ft), chief place in the Val Tavetsch (Val Tujetsch), is beautifully situated on gently sloping Alpine meadows and popular both with summer visitors and winter sports enthusiasts (ski-lift); enclosed swimming pool. The church of St Vigilius (1693), has a Romanesque tower and a carved altar (1491). Chairlift to the spring pastures of Cungieri (1,900 m/6,234ft; restaurant).To the south is Piz Pazzola.
From Piz Pazzola (2,582 m/8,472ft; four hours) there are magnificent views. Further up the valley there is a fine view of Mt Badus (Six Madun). At Camischolas the road crosses a stream flowing down from the Val Strim. From here a narrow road (closed to traffic) runs up 8km/ 5mi to the Lai da Nalps, an artificial lake (1,909 m/6,263ft).
Rueras (1,450 m/4,757ft) is a little village in the Val Milar, with a small church and fine wooden houses. The road then winds its way up from the valley floor to the hillside and crosses streams flowing down the Val Milar and Val Giuf. To the left can be seen a tower of the ruined castle of Pontaningen (Pultmenga) and beyond this the chapel of St Brida. 1.5km/ 1mi before Tschamut a road branches off on the left via the village of Selva to the hamlet of Sut Crestas (1,540 m/5,053ft) lying in the valley, and which has a charming little church.
From Rueras a road leads to the beautifully situated hamlet of Tschamut (1,648 m/5,407ft), opposite the mouth of the Val Curnera (on left). It then crosses the Gämmerrhein, which flows down from the Val de Val (on right), and bears right at the foot of Mt Calmot into the Val Surpalix. To the left the Vorderrhein flows out of the Tomasee, at the foot of Mt Badus.