3 of the best trail runs in Chamonix Valley

 
Trail Run 1 – Chamonix – Buvette de la Floria – Les Praz – Chamonix
 
A great run for the first timer to Chamonix, it will give you a taste of running on alpine style trails with some great views and enough uphill to get the heart and lungs pumping. Leave Chamonix on the Rue Joseph Vallot in the direction of Les Praz, take the first left followed by a right at the roundabout and run along the Route des Nants, after a slight rise in the road your looking to turn off left following a sign for the Petit Balcon Sud. The road becomes a 4 x 4 track and climbs steeply for about 200m. It will level off, continue straight on and following the signs for Chalet Floria. The track will begin to climb again and after around 3km you will reach Chalet Floria itself. This is a beautiful small building adorned in hundreds of flowers (mostly geraniums), it has a pretty terrace outside which you can stop on and enjoy the views across to Mont Blanc.
 
Aiguillette Run
 
Walk though the stone terrace and out the other side. Continue on the trail in the direction of Flegere. On meeting a wide and obvious 4 x 4 track, drop right onto this or the smaller trail that cuts the zigzags of the 4 x 4. At about 4.5km when your underneath the cable car of La Flegere and looking down on the golf course, turn right onto the Promenade de Vorgeat, follow this until you drop left and pop out on the road. Turn left then immediately right on crossing the river onto the Promenade de L’Arve, follow this trail by the side of the river back into the centre of Chamonix.
 
Start Point: Chamonix Centre
Finish Point: Chamonix Centre
Highpoint: around 1355m
Altitude Gain: 356m up and down
Distance: 8km, circular route
Maps: IGN 3630 OT Chamonix Massif du Mont Blanc
Time: 45mins – 1hr 15min
Grade/difficulties: Easy where all paths are good and well signposted.
Good for: An introduction to alpine trail running on mixed ground, great for a leg stretch or a warm-up run.
 
Run 2 – Circuit from Vallorcine – Vallon de Berard – Refuge de la Loriaz.
 
A super circular route taking in some higher alpine trails, waterfalls and technical descents. Starting in the pretty village of Vallorcine, accessible by train from Chamonix take the Chemin des Diligences out of the village in the direction of Le Buet, cut out into the small hamlet of Le Buet by going under the railway bridge and cross the main road. Take the trail signed for the Vallon de Berard and the Cascade (waterfall), this will climb steadily on some switchbacks before meeting the river on your right, follow the trail above the raging river, past the small chalet building, stopping to enjoy the cool air and the Cascade de Berard. Continue on until you can cross the river at about the height of 1500m and after 3.4km. Follow the trail in the forest for Sur le Rocher and Les Granges, you will soon meet a wider 4 x 4 track but you can turn off onto the walking trail signed for the Chalet de Loriaz.
 
Berard Valley
 
The chalets de Loriaz are in a high alpine meadow at just over 2000m, take some time to enjoy the views and sip some fresh water from the water trough near the chalets. You can take a drink there is you wish, the chalets are also a overnight stop for some on longer distance trails. Now you need to re-trace your steps back down, past the large cross on the rock, here you can turn left signed for Le Siseray and Vallorcine, this will take you a different route down over some technical trail, good training on running downhill. Follow the trail as you drop back into the pine forest until you reach the small hamlet of Le Siseray. Go between the buildings and you will arrive on the road by the village of Vallorcine, cross back over and head to the train station tp catch a train back to Chamonix.
 
Start Point: Vallorcine
Finish Point: Vallorcine
Highpoint: Chalets de la Loriaz 2020m
Altitude Gain: 850m up and down
Distance: 12km, circular route
Maps: IGN 3630 OT Chamonix Massif du Mont Blanc
Time: 1hr 40 mins – 3hrs
Grade/difficulties: Moderate – a steady consistent climb on a good trail, some technical trail on the descent.
Good for: Higher alpine trail running, technical downhill training, great views and lots of waterfalls to enjoy.
 

Run 3 – Circular trip from Montroc – Charamillon – Catogne – Aiguillette des Posettes – Montroc
 
This route has a bit of everything, steep up, downs, technical trail, easy running paths and far reaching views. Catch the train or bus from Chamonix to Montroc and head up the road to Le Tour, on passing the lift station follow the ski piste until it turns off onto the walking trail and zigzags up the mountain under the cables of the ski lift. You will shortly reach the mid-station at Charamillon at about 1900m. Bear right towards the small collection of chalets and follow the trail signed for the Refuge Albert Premier. You pass through a flattish area, often wet and marshy, before a short climb to meet a trail. On meeting this trail turn left and run the nice smooth track heading north towards the top of the chairlift in the distance.
 
On meeting the chairlift pass behind it and on towards to Col de Balme with the large building in the distance with red shutters. At the Col situated at 2191m, after just over 8km, take the high trail on the grassy hillside for the Croix de Fer, you can see a cross in the distance. This is another great view point into Switzerland, descend the skinny trail into the meadow at Catogne, this is beautiful in July and August and is usually a sea of wonderful flowers.
 
You now have a steep climb ahead along the shaley trail signed for Le Tour and Vallorcine, once you have gained about 200m of height you will cross under a chairlift and come back around onto the Le Tour side of the hill. You now have far reaching views of the Chamonix Valley all of the Mont Blanc Massif in from of you. Cut right onto the smooth trail for the Col des Posettes, this is a nice run downhill. At the col go straight over and take the high path for the Aiguillette des Posettes. This is a stiff climb on almost scrambling terrain, your now on part of the route of the famous Mont Blanc Marathon. On the summit of the Aiguillette pause for a few minutes rest as you have a technical descent to come. Dropping off the top take it steady as the ground can be slippery.
 
Continue to follow the signs for Montroc as you drop into the forest, keep bearing left so you don’t end up down on the road at the Col des Montets and you will skirt the bottom of the hill through Tre-le-Champ before dropping into the hamlet of Montroc once more. From here you can catch the train or bus back to Chamonix.
 
Start Point: Montroc
Finish Point: Montroc
Highpoint: Croix de Fer 2300m
Altitude Gain: 1412m up and down
Distance: 19km, circular route
Maps: IGN 3630 OT Chamonix Massif du Mont Blanc
Time: 3 – 5.5hrs
Grade/difficulties: Difficult – plenty of uphill in a number of climbs, some technical trail both up and down, requires good fitness, stamina, some basic map reading the navigation skills plus good clothing and footwear. A proper alpine trail running test.
 

See www.valleedutrail.com for further information, GPS downloads and map traces.
 

 
Useful Links:
 
Chamonix Valley Information

Chamonix Valley Transport Information

Mountain Guides for Ski touring

Hiking and Trail Running Guides
 
Accommodation in Chamonix:
 
Comfortable, friendly chalet great in summer or winter

3* hotel in Argentiere, comfy rooms and great location

3* hotel in Les Praz great in the summer for hiking and trail running, good restaurant
 
To read Ollys previous blogs: 3 best hiking routes, 3 best ski tours