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Running on ridges — 10 unforgettable trails near Chamonix

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Running on ridges — 10 unforgettable trails near Chamonix

Running Collection by Steph Lightfoot

10

Tours

35:11 h

107 mi

37,350 ft

Chamonix is known all over the world as the centre of trail running and offers a variety of unforgettable routes on mountain trails. If you like to run in the great outdoors, you’re excited by technical routes and thrilled by the peaks with the best views, this is the place for you.

From spring to autumn, you can run along the trails around Chamonix, with Mont Blanc towering in the background. The colours change throughout the seasons, from the white of the last snow to vibrant spring flowers and golden autumn. These routes are varied and the views are constantly changing. You could spend your whole life on the trails here and still be amazed!

Chamonix is the place where the best trail runners in the world push their limits every year at the UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc): an incredible event with over 10,000 runners across seven different routes. The most famous is the UTMB itself, a course of about 170 kilometres (106 mi) and 10,000 metres (32,808 ft) of elevation gain that makes a complete circuit around Mont Blanc. Runners cross France, Switzerland and Italy in a thrilling atmosphere that attracts the international community.

But trail running in Chamonix is not just for professional athletes though. In this Collection, you’ll find Tours for every level, whether for running or hiking. The routes are all no longer than 20 kilometres (12.4 mi) and will show you the best trails and views of the valley.

Those who want to train for a longer distance can run some of the Tours back-to-back. If you’re not used to significant altitude gain or long distances, there’s usually the possibility to shorten the route by train, bus or mountain railroad.

Before you set out on your adventures here, always check the weather. These routes are at high altitude and it can get very cold and snow even in the summer. Watch out for thunderstorms and strong wind, especially if you’re heading to a ridge.

Don't forget to bring enough water, food and warm clothes. I also advise you to use poles too as the trails in Chamonix are often steep and technical. Poles will help you on the ascent and save your knees on the downhills.

Have fun!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    03:08
    6.93 mi
    2.2 mph
    3,350 ft
    3,350 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The 'KV', or vertical kilometer, is a popular 'time trial' among trail runners of all skill levels in Chamonix. It's a real challenge! Departing from the city center, this vertical route passes under the Brévent cable car and the entire trail is visible from anywhere in Chamonix. If you like to push

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    by Steph Lightfoot

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  • Difficult
    02:15
    10.5 mi
    4.7 mph
    1,350 ft
    1,350 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    A nice trail which is one of the most “flat” routes in Chamonix. It is a rolling path that follows the valley from the city center to Argentière, climbing slightly on the north side and descending via the river path on the south side.

    

    This simple 17-kilometer course is ideal for beginners in trail running

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  • Difficult
    03:22
    10.0 mi
    3.0 mph
    3,875 ft
    3,875 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This classic loop starts at the top of the Flégère gondola and is only possible during the summer months when the ski lifts are open. It's a 16-kilometer journey, designed to showcase the best trails and views of Mont-Blanc and the Aiguilles Rouges. The route can also be shortened by making a return

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  • Difficult
    03:40
    11.0 mi
    3.0 mph
    4,225 ft
    4,325 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This trail course is one of my favorites - a classic loop above 2,000 meters to test your fitness on the most inspiring and varied trails in the valley. Do not miss this route, especially if you are passionate about the high mountain, its needles, its glaciers and its impressive views.

    

    This 17-kilometer

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  • Difficult
    04:29
    10.4 mi
    2.3 mph
    4,650 ft
    4,675 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Located above the Tour glacier at an altitude of 2,700 meters, the Albert Premier refuge gives access to several peaks and mountaineering routes. But it is not just a mountain refuge, it has also received the "Family Refuges" label and is accessible to hikers and trail runners without mountain equipment

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  • Difficult
    04:05
    12.0 mi
    2.9 mph
    5,650 ft
    1,200 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This trail course presents the best of the Chamonix valley, from the town center to the top of Brévent, at more than 2,500 meters, in less than twenty kilometers. You go back down to the center by the Brévent cable car, so this route is only accessible in the middle of summer when the ski lifts are open

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  • Difficult
    03:00
    11.9 mi
    4.0 mph
    2,675 ft
    2,700 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    I highly recommend taking this route in June and July when the flowers are at their best. It is an ascent of the valley to La Flégère which passes by the Chalet de la Floria, named after its incredible display of flowers.

    

    From the tennis club you start to climb almost immediately to the small south balcony

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  • Difficult
    05:12
    12.6 mi
    2.4 mph
    6,025 ft
    6,025 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    This twenty-kilometer loop is one of the hidden gems of the valley: a combination of wild trails, alpine history and breathtaking views.

    

    Departing from the mountain village of Les Houches, you will immediately find yourself on steep paths. Like many other trail courses in the Chamonix valley, this route

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  • Difficult
    03:49
    13.2 mi
    3.5 mph
    3,000 ft
    6,500 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Unlike most trail courses in the Chamonix valley, this route begins at altitude with a huge descent. By taking the Brévent ski lifts, you have direct access to the high mountains and to the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Reserve. This route is only possible during the opening months of Le Brévent (normally

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  • Difficult
    02:11
    8.64 mi
    4.0 mph
    2,550 ft
    3,100 ft
    Expert run. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    Departing from Les Houches station, this route is a one-way trip of thirteen kilometers. You can take the train back to the starting point. This is one of the only routes in this Collection that is so short, but you can complete the loop on foot by returning via Vaudagne to cover more kilometers and

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    107 mi
  • Duration
    35:11 h
  • Elevation
    37,350 ft

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Running on ridges — 10 unforgettable trails near Chamonix

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