Chamonix Grand Balcon Nord
Chamonix's two Grand Balcons are the classic playgrounds for runners and hikers. The names are confusing as the Nord is actually on the south side of the valley, but as it faces north, it gets to be Nord. So be it.
There are numerous trails up and down but only one trail that traverses the terrace high on the south side of town. This route goes up what would-be a terribly rocky descent, takes in the views of the rapidly disappearing Mer de Glace at the Montenvers, tops out at the Signal Forbes with 360 degree views of the whole region, traverses the Grand Balcon Nord Trail to the Aiguille du Midi mid-station, and then drops to town on what we feel is the best of all the descents.
Running beneath the dramatic towering needles, seeing Mont Blanc's glaciers and having a selection of coffee & tort stops makes this a tour every visiting runner will never forget.
Before dropping back to town, check out the ridgeline bordering the Bossons Glacier just south of where you are and directly in front of Mont Blanc. This is La Jonction Trail and probably best answers your inquiry, "What do we do tomorrow?".
Detailed GPX Track
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Start: 45.923943, 6.877989
Go early, this trail gets busy beyond belief and you'll want it to yourself for as long as possible.
The descent is long and requires focus, if you're cooked at the Midi mid-station, consider a ride down to save the legs for another day.
- While it is a great trail, this route really is all about what you'll see, save it for the right conditions.
I did this on day 3 of my 4-day running trip for an “easy” day (easy is an elastic concept in the Chamonix Valley). I started early and hardly met anyone. Great views of Mer de Glace when you get out the forest (way better than from the train station). Nice rolling traverse under the Aguilles. Really enjoyed the long final descent, for the most part buttery smooth and knowing an ice cream was awaiting on arrival made it even sweeter.
A great run! I started today at around 07:30 in a foggy Chamonix, but the fog gradually lifted the further up I got. I had a great view of the Mer de Glace and all the surrounding peaks. There was a bit of snow at the top, but that didn’t matter. I met almost no one on the way, except chamois and deer, and could enjoy nature alone. Definitely a loop you have to do in Chamonix!