The Sentier des Gardes
Some days you just want to go for a trail run that skips the grueling up and body beating down. Unless you cruise along the river, "easy" isn't so easy in Chamonix. The nature of Chamonix's trail running is steep. Which is probably exactly what you signed up for. But if you're short on time, energy, being chased by weather, or just want to escape, the Sentier des Gardes provides a great forest getaway. It's Chamonix Easy.
On a hillside covered in ski lifts and infrastructure, this loop feels more remote, and except for the sound of the occasional garbage truck in town below, you'll be in silence. Starting right from Chamonix's church, dash through town to the Petit Balcon Sud. The trail provides a long, gradually rising traverse to just beyond the 4km mark. There, a left turn does bring a bit of labor after all, but it takes place on a short piece of very steep trail that quickly gains about 500 meters.
The trail begins traversing back the way you came around the 1600 meter mark. You're in for a real run on exposed but mostly smooth forest singletrack all the way to Plan Lachat. Watch your step on slippery rocks, roots, and pinecones.
The descent then brings you back to the start of the Chamonix VK course. If you're in the mood for some vertical as follow up, aim your toes back uphill, otherwise stay on course and you'll be in the center of Chamonix in just a couple of minutes.
Detailed GPX Track
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Start: 45.923760, 6.868131
This is a route to enjoy for the forest running, not the views. Save it for less than ideal weather.
Sections of the Sentier des Gardes are very narrow along a steep hillside, stay on your feet!