Walking & Hiking in Chamonix
Chamonix has it all, from walks starting from outside your accommodation to high mountain hikes where you can really get some altitude. All walks are well sign-posted and trails are maintained so that you don’t have to spend all day staring at your map and compass – just enjoy the views instead!
We have recommended some of our favourite hiking in Chamonix and walks to give you a flavour of what you can do when you get here. All lifts mentioned below are included in the Mont Blanc Multipass.
We also suggest that when you get here that you buy the Mont Blanc Trails – 183 Summer walks & hikes from the Chamonix Tourist Office (approx. 14€). This descriptive guide to the trails of the valley comes with a map too.
The Lac Blanc is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the Chamonix valley, and when you see the photos (see above) it’s not hard to see why! You can either hike from the top of the Flégère cable car or take an additional chair lift (L’index) to save your legs.
Starting point: Top of L’index chair lift, via Flégère lift
Time to Lac Blanc: 1hr 15mins | Direction: North East | Difficulty: Low/medium
First, take the path on the right heading towards Lac du Fouet. The path then heads down to the Combe des Aiguilles Crochues. Next, traverse the hillside where you will meet the Reserve Naturelle des Aiguilles Rouges. Climb up across the hillside and once level with a large cairn follow the footpath to the lake and hut. You can descend on the footpath that snakes towards the main Flégère lift.
If you fancy a much longer hike with more altitude gain, there’s an alternative approach from the Col des Montets at the other end of the valley – you can access it by taking the train to Montroc. You can then descend to the Flégère gondola by either of the routes mentioned above.
Cascade du Dard
This is great family walk from the edge of Chamonix town centre up a picturesque winding trail with only 200m of altitude gain, bringing you to a lovely ‘buvette’ (snack bar) with terrace which give views of the spectacular 20m waterfall. A real treat if you are thinking of hiking in Chamonix.
Starting point: the Grépon car park, Chamonix
Duration: 45mins | Direction: South | Difficulty: Low
Take a right along Chemin du Camping which runs alongside the Route Blanche. Cross over the Torrent des Favrands et des Tissourds. After 100m take the path that heads into the forest. Cross over the bridge and walk up Les Molliasses. Turn right on to the tunnel access road, following it up for approximately 50m. Turn left along a steep path that weaves between the trees. Cross the footbridge and you will come to the mountain hut and the stunning waterfall.
Grand Balcon Nord
This popular walk is one of the ‘balcony’ trails which run along either side of the valley. The balconies are trails at low, medium or high altitude (approx. 2,000m) and could be described as offering a ‘panoramic’ walking experience. The high balconies are easily accessed via the lift system and do not involve too many significant differences in altitude along the trail, meaning that they are great for little legs or for enjoying the high mountains without committing to a taxing hike. You can walk this route starting from the Plan de l’Aiguille (Aiguille du Midi mid-station) but we recommend starting from the Montenvers train station where the queues in peak season are usually shorter. The walk including cable car and train lasts for about 5 hours.
Starting point: Montenvers train station in Chamonix
Duration: 5hrs round trip | Direction: North | Difficulty: Low
Take the train from the Montenvers train station in Chamonix town centre, alight at the top and walk past the Grand Hôtel du Montenvers. From here there are two possible routes which you can take to reach the ‘Grand Balcon Nord’: either take the path which heads up towards the Signal Forbes (gaining more altitude to admire the views of the Mer de Glace from the top) or go straight ahead towards the Plan de l’Aiguille – you will gain less height but the trail is narrower and not recommended in early summer when there may still be snow on the paths. From the Signal Forbes you will descend again down a switchback trail to rejoin the balcony and from there the trail continues with spectacular views of the peaks of Brévent-Flégère to your right as you aim for the Aiguille du Midi cable car, with the Glacier des Bossons straight ahead.
Of course, you can also make the most of the traverse by experiencing all the visitor attractions at the top of the Aiguille du Midi and at Montenvers. A great way to top off your experience whilst hiking in Chamonix.
Top tips for Hiking in Chamonix
There’s nothing better than grabbing a picnic on a sunny day and heading up the mountain to start your walk, but don’t forget to take plenty of water, your sun protection and layers – including a waterproof – as the weather can be changeable. It is always recommended to check the weather forecast before you leave because a sunny morning can quickly change into a stormy afternoon here in the mountains. Take precautions when hiking in Chamonix.
At the start of the summer, we also recommend finding out about snow cover as this can take a while to melt, particularly if we’ve had a good winter. The ‘Maison de la Montagne’ (centre for mountain guides) opposite the Tourist Office can offer plenty of advice on weather and ground conditions.
Telescopic poles are also handy to take along for your walk, again particularly at the start of the summer when they will help you cross any remaining patches of snow. However many people still carry them when the snow is gone to provide extra balance as they navigate the sometimes uneven mountain trails. These can be hired or bought from many of the sports shops in Chamonix.
There are more recommendations for hiking & walking in Chamonix on our blog.
Glacier hiking in Chamonix
Once you’ve conquered the mountains, next up are the glaciers! Beginners can book onto the glacier discovery day on the Mer de Glace for those who have never worn crampons before, after which you’ll be at ease in this new environment. If you have some experience at altitude and on glaciers then the Vallée Blanche traverse is a wonderful experience which begins at the top of the Aiguille du Midi lift.
For others who wish to experience the technical and personal challenges of alpine mountaineering, the historic Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix can recommend routes and book guides for you.
All the lifts for walking, hiking, glacier hikes and mountaineering are included on the Mont Blanc Multipass.