• Forever Wanderers

CHAMONIX, FRENCH ALPS • A LOCAL HIKING GUIDE

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Leave the main roads, take the trails.

Pythagoras



With jaw-dropping views around every corner, there’s no denying that Chamonix is an iconic location to explore on foot.


The first time you arrive in Chamonix, your eyes are immediately drawn to one thing – the magnificent Mont Blanc, standing proud above the valley floor. With so much to take in, you would barely glance at the surrounding mountainsides as you sweep past on the road.

But after some time, you will start realising how diverse and truly spectacular this valley is as well.


There’s so much to see. Every route brings new surprises and delights – hidden alpine villages, crashing torrents, glacial encounters, mirror-like lakes, suspended bridges taking your breath away and countless stunning panoramas. You can even find an atypic cafe where you would least expect it, this place is absolutely incredible.


No need to say more, you understood that it’s a perfect walking region. Aside from the scenery, there’s an enormous variety of trails, from gentle valley paths to high-altitude breath-takers. They are well-signposted, easy to follow and surprisingly often punctuated by charming mountain cafes, restaurants and even huts for those who want to spend the night up there.



In this article, I will share with you different trails that I consider a bit more out of the beaten track. I will not be mentioning the "famous hikes" of the Valley, such as the Lac Blanc. But if you want to learn more about it, I wrote about it in a previous article : Chamonix's travel guide. Feel free to check it out.


Does it sound tempting to you ? Are you ready to dive into this hiking guide ?


But first, some hiking tips


First important thing, always check the forecast and don’t take any risks or head out on unfamiliar paths in poor conditions. An accident can happen faster than we think.


What to wear ?


Make sure you are well-equipped and dressed for the season and length of time you will be out. Trail shoes or walking boots are a must for many of the paths here, even if you go for an easy trail. Besides, be prepared for the weather to change quickly in the mountains. I would advise you to always carry waterproofs and warm clothing even if the day starts out fine.


What to pack ?


Make sure to get some sunscreen and good sunglasses as well. The sun is particularly strong and tricky in the mountain areas.

Also, don't forget to pack some snacks, fruits or even lunch (depend on the length of the trail) and a lot of water.


Don't push yourself too much


Be aware of your own limitations and don’t push yourself beyond your level of comfort and fitness. Difficult weather and routes can be risky, so stay safe – there’s plenty of gentler and lower-altitude options that I’m sure you will enjoy just as much.


Green tip


The last thing, be aware that there isn't much trashes along the trails, make sure to take something to store your litter until you find proper trashes. Let's preserve this beautiful nature that surrounds us.


All right, I think now we are ready to go. Let's hit the mountains !


Short hikes


Easy trails


Le Chapeau from les Tines


Overview - A simple and nice walk bringing you to a beautiful viewpoint over the Mer de Glace and the Gorges de l'Arveyon.

Departure point - Les Tines train station.

Length - 2h40 way-return / 5km.

Recommended period - From 15/05 to 15/10 *.

Elevation gain - 503m.


Petit Balcon Nord - Le Tour to Argentière


Overview - This footpath links the villages of Le Tour to Argentière on the northside. Gorgeous views, lush paths and the soothing sound of the river, this walk is so enjoyable.

Departure point - Le Tour.

Length - 1h for the way down / 3km.

Recommended period - From 14/05 to 31/10 *.

Elevation gain - 90m.


Charousse


Overview - Five farms make up this old alpine pasture that has been renovated. Yet, it still bears all the signs of a bygone pastoral age. Beautiful site with views of the Aiguilles de Chamonix and the Chaine des Fiz.

Departure point - Côte des Chavants car park.

Length - 1H way-return / 2km.

Recommended period - From 01/05 to 31/10 *.

Elevation gain - 80m.


Medium trails


Les Mottets


Overview - Along the way you can witness wonderful views of the Aiguilles des Drus, but also astonishing colours. From the red rocks to the green's shades of the mountains, it's a beautiful show.

Departure point - Montenvers train station, in Chamonix.

Length - 3H30 way-return / 9km.

Recommended period - From 01/05 to 31/10 *.

Elevation gain - 835m.



La Pierre à Bérard


Overview - A pleasant walk along the water, partly through larch forests. There is a hut at the arrival where you can eat and even spend the night in.

Departure point - Hôtel du Buet.

Length - 3H30 way-return / 10km.

Recommended period - From 01/05 to 31/10 *.

Elevation gain - 628m.


Difficult trails


Cascade du Dard (Dard's waterfall)


Overview - The Dard's waterfall is close to the entrance of the Mont-Blanc tunnel. In the heart of the forest, this is the last in a series of waterfalls whose turbulent, sparkling waters are a truly natural marvel.

Departure point - Grepon car park, in Chamonix.

Length - 1H15 way-return / 7km.

Recommended period - From 15/04 to 01/11*.

Elevation gain - 400m.


One day hikes


Easy trails


↠ Petit Balcon Sud - Les Tines to Les Bossons


Overview - This walk is going through the valley, giving continuous views over it and the Mont-Blanc massif.

Departure point - Les Tines train station.

Length - 3h for the way down / 10km.

Recommended period - From 01/05 to 31/10 *.

Elevation gain - 569m.


Le Chemin des Diligences


Overview - From 1792, the Chemin des Diligences has linked Martigny (in Swizterland) and Chamonix via the Col des Montets. It allows people to explore Vallorcine’s hamlets, which have faithfully preserved many of their traditions.

Departure point - Railway station at Plan-Envers.

Length - 3H30 way-return / 9km.

Recommended period - All year *.

Elevation gain - 169m.


Medium trails


Alpages de Blaitière


Overview - Beautiful alpine pastures overlooking the valley, offering fantastic views of the Chamonix's Aiguilles.

Departure point - Grepon Car Park.

Length - 5H way-return / 9km.

Recommended period - From 01/06 to 30/09*.

Elevation gain - 924m.


↠ Aiguillette des Posettes trail


Overview - Wonderful panorama of the Mont-Blanc and the main glaciers of the Valley, such as Les Bossons or Le Tour's glacier.

Departure point - Le Tour.

Length - 4H30 way return / 7km.

Recommended period - From 01/06 to 15/10*.

Elevation gain - 721m.



Difficult trails


Merlet to Aiguillette des Houches (Via Alpages des Chailloux)


Overview - A steep walk taking you into the Carlaveyron Nature Reserve. The difficulty of the trail is compensated by the succession of wonderful views.

Departure point - Merlet's Park, Les Houches.

&❊ Length - 4H way-return / 10km.

Recommended period - From 15/05 to 15/10*.

Elevation gain - 765m.


Alpage de Loriaz (from Couteray)


Overview - Mountain pasture below the Chaine des Perrons and Loriaz, offering an incredible angle of the Valley. At the arrival, you can find a hut with a restaurant.

Departure point - Le Couteray.

Length - 4h15 way-return / 8km.

Recommended period - All year *.

Elevation gain - 751m.



Few days hikes


Medium hikes


Tour des Lacs - Massif des Aiguilles Rouges


Overview - This trail is kind of a lake tour into the beautiful natural reserve of Les Aiguilles Rouges, as you will encounter the following ones : Cornu, Noirs, Fouet, Blanc, Persévérance, Chéserys and Flégère.

Departure point - Lift of Planpraz.

Length - 2 days way-return / 25km - Night at Lac Blanc's refuge.

Recommended period - From 15/05 to 15/10*.

Elevation gain - 1948m.


Lac et Col d'Anterne


Overview - This hike also includes lakes discovery. On the way in, you can have a swim into Pormenaz's Lake after a first challenging hiking day. Then the next day, on the way back you will meet Anterne's Lake and at the arrival, you will end with the stunning Green Lake of Passy.

Departure point - Passy Plaine Joux.

Length - 2 days way-return / 20km - Night at Refuge de Moëde Anterne.

Recommended period - From 15/05 to 15/10*.

Elevation gain - 1303m.



Difficult hikes


Le Buet from Vallorcine


Overview - Over 3000m high, a magnificent view over the Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont-Blanc. It's challenging hike, surrounded by a wild and gorgeous nature.

Departure point - Buet train station.

Length - 2 days / 18km.

Recommended period - From 15/05 to 15/10*.

Elevation gain - 1839m.


* All trails accessibility can vary with the meteorological conditions. Stay informed before going on a hike.


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We hope you enjoyed this time discovering some of Chamonix's gems. If you want to share some of your own tips or recommendations in this valley, you are more than welcome to do so.


See you soon for another article, take care & travel safely.


#hiking #mountains #nature #frenchalps #chamonix #travelguide #foreverwanderers

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