FATMAP difficulty grade
The Petit Balcon trails provide the Chamonix Valley with classic pedal-driven trail riding.
These two trails—the Petit Balcon Nord on the south side of the valley and the Petit Balcon Sud on the north side of the valley—run for miles in both directions.
Due to the intricate nature of the trail system in this region, you can access these two Balcon trails from literally dozens of various access points.
The route mapped here is just one variant making use of these classic trails. These singletrack trails provide an incredibly varied bag of mountain biking challenge, and you never know what you’ll face around the next corner! If you ride the route as depicted here, you’ll begin with a mellow doubletrack ride through the valley floor, and begin gaining elevation on a steep fire road.
The first time you reach the singletrack, you’ll look at the absurd web of roots climbing steadily up the mountainside and think, “damn, I hope the entire trail isn’t like this!” Take heart—it gets better from here.
Shortly after the initial climb mellows out, you’ll reach the first section of sweet, flowing singletrack along a relatively flat bench.
Sections like this make the Balcon trails a pure delight to mountain bike! You’ll encounter several of these smooth, flowy sections along the way but in between, rocks, roots, and hike-a-bikes will punctuate the flow. After crossing the valley and hike-a-biking back up to the Balcon Sud portion of the route, the singletrack gets even better! The Sud is definitely the highlight of the ride, and sees much more traffic overall.
In fact, for an easier route combination, you could choose to skip the Nord portion and simply pedal up the pavement… but what would be the fun in that? The Sud section features several delightful, chunky rock gardens, entertaining rock drops, and even more root webs.
Between the gnar, you’ll continue to rip through flowy sections of sweet bench cut.
The route as it is mapped here drops back down to the valley floor, then climbs back up to the bench, before finishing the traverse near the Brevent lift.
As always, there are numerous options, such as continuing beyond the Brevent, or finishing sooner on the bottom of Charlanon.
However, it's recommended to at least continuing to the Brevent, as the section of trail between Charlanon and Brevent is pure gold! Enjoy this sweet, sweet trail ride, and then begin planning your next Balcon Sud route variant!