hikes in Chamonix
The spiritual home of mountaineering, Chamonix is a hiker’s dream. A small, cosmopolitan town nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc, Chamonix provides access to some of the most dramatic peaks and fantastic hiking trails in the French Alps. Expect to see towering, snow-capped peaks, creaking glaciers, and flower-strewn trails as you walk in the footsteps of mountaineering legends.
The most striking feature of the region around Chamonix is the towering face of Mont Blanc, which looms high above the town. As the highest mountain in Western Europe, and the site of many pioneering mountaineering expeditions, Mont Blanc exercises a powerful hold over the imagination of many hikers, and the trails in the Mont Blanc massif and surrounding area certainly won’t disappoint.
Hiking in Chamonix is a pure delight, with views that will take your breath away around every corner. With ice-blue glaciers and impossibly craggy ridges, romantic wildflower meadows and gurgling streams, the landscape of the French Alps is truly spectacular. What’s more the bustling town of Chamonix itself is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day out on the trail.
This incredible region is packed with five-star hiking trails, so it’s almost impossible to choose our favorites! Nevertheless, we’ve put together a list of the best hikes in Chamonix, to help you plan your next hiking adventure. Read on to find out more!
Top Hikes In Chamonix
As the adventure capital of the Alps, Chamonix is the ideal place to visit for an epic hiking adventure. Nestled in the shadow of Mont Blanc, this magnificent region has so much to offer for all kinds of visitors, from beginner hikers to experienced thrill-seekers. One of the advantages of taking a summer hiking trip in a ski resort is that the ski lifts are still available to take hikers high into the mountains to start their walk, meaning that it’s easy to enjoy some phenomenal views without expending too much energy. You’ll find fun family hikes, easy short routes perfect for a low-key stroll, and strenuous day hikes that will test the mettle of the most experienced hikers. Heaven for hikers, Chamonix has it all.
- Col de Balme Hike: The hike to the Col de Balme is a Chamonix classic, and a good option if you’re looking for a less strenuous hike in the Alps. Take a ski lift right to the edge of the Swiss border and start the trail on a straightforward path through flower-strewn, expansive meadows. The views over the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc will take your breath away, and we think this is one of the best easy hikes in Chamonix.
- Pointe de Vue Hike: This lovely hike is the perfect option if you’re looking for an easy day out in the French Alps. The trail ascends gently through some truly gorgeous alpine scenery, with wild flowers and pretty shrubs, crossing over gurgling mountain streams. The viewpoint at the end of the path, however, is truly spectacular, offering views over the immense Argentière Glacier, creaking and groaning as it proceeds slowly down the mountain.
- Lac Blanc Hike: The hike to Lac Blanc is one of the best family hikes in Chamonix, and a good option for families looking for an exciting day out in the French Alps. This beautiful lake is surrounded by snow-capped peaks that cast a shimmering reflection into the crystal waters, offering an alpine vista that you’ll never forget. Kids will love this trail as it passes by a nature reserve filled with ibex and marmots, making it a good place for wildlife watching.
- Grand Balcon Sud Hike: This spectacular hike will take you along a beautiful, varied trail, much of it in the shadow of the towering Mont Blanc. This trail is pure joy to hike, and a good option if you are travelling with older children who want a taste of the dramatic scenery of the French Alps. The views change constantly along the route, meaning you’ll never be bored, and the awesome view of Mont Blanc at the end is simply jaw dropping.
- Albert Premiere Hike: This steep, dramatic hike will take you all the way up to the Refuge Albert Premiere, with a staggering viewpoint overlooking the glacier. The climb is steep and rocky in places, but the views along the way are incredible, and there’s plenty to distract you from your aching legs. It’s possible to do this as one of the best day hikes in Chamonix, but if you want to take it easy, you can stay at the refuge and admire the wonderful sunrise and sunset from this high mountain vista.
- Lac Cornu Hike: Looking for a quiet hike that takes you away from Chamonix’s summer tourists and off the beaten track? The route to Lac Cornu is a wild and wonderful hike that will take you away from the Chamonix Valley to a series of three beautiful mountain lakes. This is an immensely satisfying day hike, and a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the wilder side of the French Alps.
- La Jonction Hike: This epic hike in the French Alps is one of our favorite challenging hikes in Chamonix! You’ll hike along a dramatic ridge on a zigzagging path, with impressive glaciers on either side, creating an impressive alpine vista. However, the greatest surprise is left until the end – an immense glacial amphitheater with incredible views all around you. This is a strenuous hike, but it’s worth every little bit of effort.
- Aiguilletteis des Posettes Hike: This gorgeous hike is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery of the French Alps, combining high, snow-capped peaks, cool larch forests, and an impressive craggy ridge. This area is especially lovely in autumn, when the leaves turn and the larch forests show off their fine colors. The ascent is steep, but you’ll be walking alongside fragrant plants such as juniper, rhododendron and blueberry, and the descent offers magnificent views of the Chamonix Valley all the way down.
- Grand Balcon Nord Hike: The spectacular Grand Balcon Nord hike offers mind-blowing views and a wonderful panorama over the heart of the French Alps. This route takes you all the way to the high point of the Forbes Signal viewpoint, named after the Scottish geologist who discovered many of the principles of glacial movement. Fittingly, the viewpoint offers a wonderful vista of the Mer de Glace glacier on the Mont Blanc massif, and is just one of the highlights on this wonderful, varied trail.
- Le Chapeau via the Sources de l’Arveyron Hike: This beautiful hike is a moderate challenge and a good option for beginner or intermediate hikers looking to stretch themselves whilst in the Alps. The trail itself is stunning, passing through larch forests, along wildflower-strewn valleys, and past gushing waterfalls before reaching a viewpoint where you can gaze upon two impressive glaciers. Make sure to take a pit stop at the refuge near the top, La Buvette du Chapeau, for a well-earned rest and a drink.
When Is The Best Time To Hike In Chamonix?
The best time to hike in Chamonix is between June and September, when the higher-elevation trails are free of snow, the weather is warm and sunny, and the refuges are fully operational. The French Alps have a relatively short hiking season, as the high elevation means that many trails are covered in snow for most of the year, and the risk of avalanches is high. In winter, the region is transformed into one of Europe’s finest skiing destinations, and the mountains take on another guise, clothed in pristine white powder. This can be wonderful time for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
Other Outdoor Activities In Chamonix
Whether you visit in summer or winter, there are so many different outdoor activities on offer in Chamonix! Choose from hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, horse riding, rock climbing and all kinds of water sports, including kayaking, canoeing, canyoning and rafting. In winter, it’s time to turn your attention to the ski slopes, but don’t miss the opportunity to try out cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and even ice climbing during the cooler months.
How To Plan A Trip To Chamonix
The French Alps are truly a magical place for a hiking trip, and to help you make the most of your adventure, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to planning a trip to Chamonix. You’ll find everything you need for a fantastic hiking trip, including insider tips on all the best places to stay and eat. It’s time to grab those hiking boots and head for the hills!
Frequently-Asked-Questions About Chamonix
Do you need a car in Chamonix?
Chamonix is one of the most well connected towns in the Alps, and it’s certainly possible to enjoy a fantastic hiking trip here without needing to bring your own car. While there are some advantages to having your own set of wheels (including the flexibility to go a little further afield, and to hike according to your own timetable), a car is certainly not essential in Chamonix.
How far is Chamonix to Geneva?
Geneva is approximately 55 miles from Chamonix.
How many days do you need in Chamonix?
There’s plenty to do in Chamonix and the surrounding area to keep you busy for weeks on end. However, if time is tight, we’d recommend spending at least 2-3 days in Chamonix. This should give you enough time for a couple of good hikes with the option of spending a day in the charming town itself.
The best hikes in Chamonix
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