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Vieux-Emosson Geological Trail

This educational trail was created in 1998 by the Municipality of Finhaut with the support of Espace Mont-Blanc. It was completely modernised in 2015 in collaboration with the Natural History Museum of Geneva and with the support of the Canton of Valais and the Swiss Confederation. It is one of three "Finhaut Trails", an educational project that aims to showcase the commune’s history and heritage.

Vieux-Emosson footprints layer

The footprints discovered in 1976 at Vieux Emosson date back more than 240 million years. In 2008, a new discovery made by Marco Avanzini, an Italian palaeontologist, revived scientific interest in this site. The presence of a track on a detached block made it possible to identify the species that left the track and paved the way for new hypotheses for dating the find.

The site predates the emergence of dinosaurs in the true sense. The tracks were left by primitive reptiles belonging to the Archosaurian groups, which include the ancestors of both dinosaurs and crocodiles.

The Emosson reptiles thus resemble dinosaurs, but had not yet acquired all of their characteristics. The details found on this track have established the connection with a reptile whose appearance can be compared to that of a short-muzzled crocodile, about 1.5 metres long, standing erect on its feet. It belongs to the genus Isochirotherium (the name assigned to the type of footprints) and may be related to the skeleton of Ticinosuchus, a fossil of which was found in Ticino, in Middle Triassic layers.

The study of the site continues, not least because these are the oldest fossil tracks of vertebrates in Switzerland.

 

More information about the Vieux-Emosson footprint layer, here

 

Useful informations

The proposed route is fully signposted and is shown on local hiking maps.

The footprints are usually visible from mid-July (before then, they are covered by snow).

We recommend that you start out with good walking shoes, appropriate equipment and refreshments. Bear in mind that weather conditions can change suddenly between altitudes of 1,900 and 2,500 metres.

Half-way, there is the Vieux-Emosson mountain hut where you can eat or drink something (www.cabaneduvieux.ch).

 

Guided tours

Each Summer, from end of July and for 3 weeks, a guide is on the site and give you explanation about it. 

More info 

 

The various didactic paths in Finhaut

In addition to the Vieux-Emosson Geological Trail (formerly The Dinosaurs' Trail), the trail Balcon du Mont-Blanc (overlooking Mont Blanc) presents the natural environment of the mountainside and its forested avalanche paths between Finhaut and Emosson; the trail A Travers Finhaut (through Finhaut) describes the history and development of the communities of Finhaut-Châtelard-Giétroz, which were famous tourist resorts during the Belle Époque period at the beginning of the 20th Century.

 

Text from the brochure Vieux-Emosson Geological Trail

  

Download the brochure here

  

Empreinte © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève. 2011
Empreintes fossilisées dans une dalle de grès © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Empreintes fossilisées dans une dalle de grès © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Empreintes fossilisées dans une dalle de grès © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Explications des géologues
Explications géologiques pour les randonneurs © P. Wagneur, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Interprétation d'une empreinte © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève. 2011
Le lac du Vieux-Emosson © P. Wagneur, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Moulage d'une piste d'Isochirotherium découverte en 2008 © P. Wagneur, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Traces et rides de vages © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève. 2011
Une petite empreinte d'Isochirotherium découverte en 2008 © P. Wagneur, Muséum de la Ville de Genève
Vue générale de la dalle aux empreintes du Vieux-Emosson © L. Cavin, Muséum de la Ville de Genève. 2
Vue générale de la dalle aux empreintes du Vieux-Emosson © P. Wagneur, Muséum de la Ville de Genève