Chamonix is absolutely breath-taking in the summer and at no time is that more true than when you’ve hiked into the high mountains and you’re enjoying the views while catching your breath. All the trails are well-maintained and clearly sign-posted so, instead of keeping your head down to follow a map or compass, you can keep your eyes focused on those spectacular views.
The Chamonix summer walking and hiking trails are very varied so they offer something for everyone, all ages and abilities. Either set off from your Chamonix accommodation along the valley floor or through the forest, or catch a cable car and hike the high mountains at altitude.
Below are some of the must-do Chamonix summer hikes and walks, as recommended by our Resort Team. We hope they’ll give you a flavour of what you can get up to on your Chamonix summer holiday, but we also highly recommend picking up a good trail guide when you arrive in Chamonix too. Our well-worn favourite is Mont Blanc Trails – 183 Chamonix Summer walks & hikes, available from Chamonix Tourist Office. The book includes descriptive guides to many of the valley trails, as well as many variants and a fold-away map too, and is available in French and English.
Depending on your level of fitness and what you’re hoping to get out of your stay, you may wish to do as much of your hiking on foot as possible. Alternatively, the many lifts included on the Mont Blanc Multipass give access to walking and hiking trails too, saving your heart and lungs on the climb up or your knees on the way down – or both!
Must-do Chamonix summer hikes and walks
Our Chamonix Resort Team have selected some of their perennial favourite hikes and walks. The ‘balcons’ or balconies are panoramic trails which have less height gain than some of Chamonix’s other trails. There are ‘grands balcons’, usually around 2000m, or ‘petits balcons’ which run not much higher than the valley floor.
Top 3 Chamonix hikes to try this summer
- Bragging rights: For the ultimate bragging rights, you’ve got to try the Vertical KM! The trail forms its own race as part of the Marathon du Mont Blanc events and is easily reached from Chamonix town centre. The path winds up under the Brevent cable car – so your mates can wave at you as they take the lazy option – and there’s some scrambling at the top where it gets steeper. Can you beat the record of 34’34”?!
- Stunning views: you really can’t beat the Lac Blanc for stunning Chamonix summer views. Accessible from the top of Flegere cable car, or tacked on to the end of the Grand Balcon Sud, or via a longer uphill hike from Montroc train station and the Col des Montets, the Lac Blanc overlooks the tongue of the Mer de Glace on the other side of the valley and the sweeping views also take in Aiguille du Midi and Mont Blanc.
- Sightseeing and a walk: the Grand Balcon Sud is a popular trail between the top of Montenvers train and the mid-station of Aiguille du Midi. If you want to make the most of the loop, get up early and head straight up the Aiguille du Midi cable car to visit the (in)famous Step Into The Void. Avoid the queues of later in the day by taking the cable car back down to the mid-station and walking along this panoramic footpath. You can either continue to hug the mountain as the path curves round to Montenvers or get more height and head up to the Signal Forbes for spectacular views of the Mer de Glace before descending to the station and taking this historic train back down to the town centre.
Top tips for a great day walking and hiking in Chamonix
- Be prepared. Don’t forget to take a glance at the weather forecast, as Chamonix summers can be quite changeable. Go prepared for everything – with sun protection as well as warm and waterproof layers, and don’t forget plenty of water and some snacks to keep you going. You can also pack a packed lunch, or plan a stop at one of the mountain restaurants which are open in summer as in winter.
- Get advice. The Maison de la Montagne can always advise on the latest conditions at altitude including snow-cover at the start of the summer – sometimes the snow can stick around into July after the winter so it’s best to ask the experts. Maison de la Montagne is located opposite the Tourist Office.
- Poles might be useful. You’ll undoubtedly see many of the trail runners and experienced mountaineers carrying poles through Chamonix town centre but they can be useful regardless of your ability. Telescopic poles can be particularly handy at the start of the Chamonix summer in case you need to cross any patches of snow, but throughout the summer they provide extra balance, especially going downhill. Poles can be hired or bought from many of the sports shops along Chamonix high street.
Once your appetite has been whetted by conquering the mountains and their trails, you’ll be itching to try glacier hiking! Our glacier discovery activity on the Mer de Glace is perfect if you’ve never experienced an icy world like this before – you’ll be introduced to wearing crampons, roping up and even ice climbing if you want! The Vallée Blanche Traverse is a great challenge if you already have some experience at altitude and on glaciers too. You’ll need a head for heights for both hikes due to the access onto the glaciers – read more about glacier hiking for descriptions of what to expect.
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