Guidebook

The Best Singletrack Mountain Bike Trails in Chamonix

Chamonix is loaded with steep, gnarly singletrack. Here's your guide to navigating this complex trail system.

Greg Heil

Description

Chamonix is one of the most stunning mountain destinations on earth. The idyllic town center sits in the bottom of a narrow valley with mountains soaring straight up on all sides. The Mont Blanc massif forms one side of the Chamonix Valley, with the mountain slopes culminating in sheer rock cliffs covered in glaciers. Mont Blanc itself, visible from just about everywhere in the valley, rises to 4,809 meters above sea level—the highest peak in Western Europe.

This well-developed tourist destination serves every mountain sport, including mountain biking. You'll find tons of gnarly singletrack to ride here… but unlike most mountain destinations in the Alps, don't expect Chamonix to roll out the red carpet for you. Mountain bikes are banned on most trails for the months of July and August. Mountain bikes are also banned on trails that pass through a national park, although it can be difficult to tell where the national park boundaries are.

It feels like Chamonix is saying, "you mountain bikers are the new kids on the block—you should be grateful for whatever we give you." And in some ways, they're right: Chamonix's history as a mountaineering destination goes back hundreds of years, with the first ascent of the Mont Blanc recorded on August 8, 1786. Yeah, mountain bikes are pretty new on the scene.

Don't let the feeling of being a second-class citizen dissuade you from heading to Chamonix to mountain bike. Instead, use these tips to your advantage so you can optimize your visit. Travel to Chamonix in early September when the crowds have thinned out and most of the lifts have opened to bikes.

If you do, you'll find a nearly endless web of steep, technical, challenging singletrack trails spread throughout the Chamonix valley… and really, connecting to the rest of Europe. Whether your goal is to rip technical enduro descents like Charlanon and Merlet, or you want to check off the epic multi-day Tour du Mont Blanc, Chamonix can provide as much challenge as you're ready for!

Lift Access Information

Les Houches Bike Crew provides some information on how best to navigate the lift system in Chamonix:

"Bikes are allowed on the dedicated velo-bus public bus system and also on the SNCF railway that runs through the valley, opening up lots of options outside the lift season. The lifts that only access walking trails don’t allow bikes during July and August, the Brevent lift is an exception that allows bikes after 3pm during the summer bike ban to access the Charlanon trail. At either end of the valley, Les Houches and Le Tour / Vallorcine are open to bikes throughout the summer as they have dedicated VTT trails that are unaffected by the July – August bike ban. For a different uplift experience the Tramway du Mont Blanc allows bikes on the last few trams of the day through the summer too."

Petit Balcon Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Petit Balcon Loop

Chamonix
20.8 km
702 m
702 m
A classic loop around Chamonix that's approachable for intermediate riders.
Difficult
Private
Les Posettes
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Les Posettes

Chamonix
8.0 km
98 m
820 m
Les Posettes beginning from and returning to Le Tour lifts.
Severe
Private
Merlet Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Merlet Loop

Chamonix
11.8 km
645 m
645 m
An iconic Chamonix singletrack descent.
Severe
Private
Charlanon
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Charlanon

Chamonix
6.6 km
58 m
1,015 m
Brevent’s only designated mountain bike trail, this enduro-style descent on fully natural singletrack is sure to test even the best riders.
Severe
Private
Petit Balcon Nord: Le Tour
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Petit Balcon Nord: Le Tour

Chamonix
7.3 km
314 m
314 m
One of the smoothest, flowiest benchcut trails in Chamonix.
Difficult
Private
Chalet de Loriaz
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Chalet de Loriaz

Chamonix
12.6 km
742 m
742 m
A punishing climb provides access to an incredible descent amid stunning alpine scenery.
Difficult
Private
Alpage Respect
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Alpage Respect

Chamonix
5.9 km
21 m
846 m
The primary downhill trail at Les Houches.
Difficult
Private
Tour du Mont Blanc: Chamonix to Champex
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Tour du Mont Blanc: Chamonix to Champex

Chamonix
46.2 km
2,363 m
1,929 m
An easy tour through Chamonix valley, followed by two hard and long climbs to Lax des Champex.
Moderate
Private
Tour du Mont Blanc: Les Contamines to Chamonix
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Tour du Mont Blanc: Les Contamines to Chamonix

27.0 km
1,030 m
1,158 m
The shortest leg of the Tour du Mont Blanc along green forest trails.
Easy
Private
Buvette des Mottets
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Buvette des Mottets

Chamonix
9.4 km
687 m
687 m
A quick hit of singletrack gnar accessible directly from downtown Chamonix.
Severe
Private
Chamonix - Flatiere - Servoz - Lac Vert - Chamonix

Chamonix - Flatiere - Servoz - Lac Vert - Chamonix

Chamonix
41.3 km
1,646 m
1,645 m
An interesting loop with plenty of climbing and some great riding -- never too technical, but certainly not easy.
Difficult
Private
Christ-Roi Loop
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Christ-Roi Loop

Chamonix
11.5 km
614 m
614 m
Mostly smooth, flowy singletrack trails rolling through deep forests.
Moderate
Private
Chevreuils -> Les Cerfs
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Chevreuils -> Les Cerfs

Chamonix
4.7 km
0 m
709 m
Purpose-built jump/flow line beneath the lifts of Le Tour.
Difficult
Private
Posettes Loop from Chamonix
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Posettes Loop from Chamonix

Chamonix
31.9 km
1,200 m
1,200 m
An epic loop ride with a stunning high alpine singletrack traverse as a reward
Severe
Private