5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
When combined, the Petit Balcon trails serve as the Chamonix Valley's classic, easily-accessible singletrack loop.
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 the Petit Balcons 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 a mixed bag of trail tread difficulty, along with beautiful views from a variety of vantage points.
If you hike the route as depicted here, you'll begin with a mellow doubletrack hike through the valley floor and start 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, "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, smooth singletrack along a relatively flat bench.
Sections like this make the Balcon trails a pure delight to hike! You'll encounter several of these smooth, flowy sections along the way, but in between, rocks, roots, and generally rough trail treads dominate. After crossing the valley and hiking back up to the Balcon Sud portion of the route, the singletrack gets even better! The Sud is definitely the highlight of the hike and sees much more traffic overall. 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 continue to the Brevent, as the section of trail between Charlanon and Brevent is pure gold, offering some of the best views on the route! Enjoy this delightful hike, and then begin planning your assault on the Grand Balcon trails!