Aiguillette des Posettes and Tete de Balme
Elevation + / -
1171m / 1171m
When to go
Mid Jun - Start Oct
4.0 - 6.0 Hours
1480m / 2321m
Very Nice (4/5)
2.0 - 3.0 Hours
15+ Years old
This trail is a big loop starting at the hamlet of Le Tour and climbing up to the Aiguillette des Posettes and circling around to the Tete de Balme summit before descending back down to the Le Tour. The climb up the crest to the Aiguillette des Posettes is absolutely gorgeous with great views to be had in all directions including towards Mont Buet on the Vallorcine side of the Aiguillette. This is our favorite part of the trail. We then descend towards the first snack bar along this trail, the Alpage de Balme. From there we start the steady climb towards the Tete de Balme summit at an altitude of 2321 meters. The Refuge de Col de Balme sits right below the summit and provides another opportunity for a break and snack with nice views intot Switzerland. From here we descend back all the way down to our starting point at Le Tour with an optional stop at the Chalet de Charamillon along the way.
There are many variations to this trail. If you want to decrease the amount of vertical gain or loss then you could take the Charamillon gondola and the Autannes chair lift to make the way down much easier. You could also do the trail in reverse and use the lifts to start at the top of the Autannes lift and then do the trail in counter clockwise direction and starting of a the Refuge de Col de Balme. This version reduces the trail to 10km in length with only 400 meters of vertical gain. Lastly, the Croix de Fer is not too far from the Tete de Balme and could be added on. Have a look at this trail that includes the Croix de Fer if you have the energy for a worthwhile add on.
Photos of this Trail
We have a large library of pictures from in and around the Chamonix Valley. All pictures are categorized and geo location tagged. These are the pictures we have for this trail. Click on any picture to view it's details and location.
Trail Directions & Safety Considerations
15+ Years old
A few big steps but nothing a bigger dog can't handle
When to Go
Mid Jun - Start Oct
Risk Considerations & Difficulty Assessment
This route reaches an altitude of 2321 meters at the Tête de Balme summit. There is likely to be snow cover till at least mid June, possibly end June. The Aiguillette des Posettes will be snow free around the same time. So overall we recommend this route for the period from mid-late June to the start of October depending on how early the snow starts at the end of the year. The trails are very well marked and easy to follow. You are basically doing a loop above Le Tour and you will have a view of the Balme ski area the whole time. There will be multiple trails that will take you to the main destinations on the trail and taking a different trail will not be a disaster. The trails are relatively easy and they have done a great job in providing wooden stair cases and supports on the more difficult parts of the climb up to the Aiguillette des Posettes.
NOTE: there are a couple of downhill mountain biking trails going down the mountain from the Col de Balme towards Le Tour. You do not want to take any of those as the mountain bikers go fast and might not see you on time if you end up on one of those trails. If you find yourself on a narrow dirt track with ramps and lots of bike tracks then thats a clear sign that you are on a bike track. If you are in doubt then you can stay on the wide 4x4 tracks that go all the way down to Le Tour. There are also signages for the specific pedestrian trails and the bike trails.
Trail Starting Point
The trail starts at the hamlet of Le Tour at the north-eastern end of the Chamonix Valley. More specifically the first trail marker is located at the northern end of the big parking. Its hard to miss. If you are coming by public transport then the bus stop at the Charamillon lift station is 100 meters away. The nearest train station is Montroc-Le Planet. This is not a bad option as you could then make your way up to the Aiguillette des Posettes from there. On your way back you would just need to walk down from Le Tour to Montroc which is only 1.3km and all downhill.
From the big parking at Le Tour we head north where we will see a trail marker for the Aiguillette des Posettes. There are multiple trails you can take to climb up and reach the Aiguillette. The one we propose takes you straight up and passes by the Jean-Marie Blanc memorial. From there we take a beautiful trail with nice views towards the climb up the Aiguillette. A more direct approach would be to head first towards Tre-le-Champ and then head up following the crest. The trail up the Aiguillette follows the crest and cannot be missed.
From the Aiguillett des Posettes we descend towards de Col des Posettes. We propose an optional detour to visit the Alpage de Balme which could be a great location for a meal or a snack. From there we head back in the direction of the Col des Posettes and follow the trail markers for the Col de Balme. The main trail will head eastwards straight to the Col de Balme. Instead, to go to the Tete de Balme we continue on the trail going up in a northern direction. Follow this trail till you reach the top of the Tete de Balme lift. Its a big lift station and it will be hard to miss. The trail going to the actual summit is not marked as far as we could tell and it starts on the side of the lift station. The rocky outcropping right above the lift station has a nice border marker which we have featured in the photos section of this trail. From there head north and you will do a steady climb on the round grassy top of the Tete de Balme. From there go down and make your way in a south-eastern direction to the Refuge de Col de Balme. From here you have multiple options of getting back down to the Le Tour. You could even take the Autannes and Charamillion lifts to skip the downhill alltogether. The most beautiful part of this trail is done so the downhill does not add a great deal of value. If you do decide to follow the trail down then you could stop by the Chalet de Charamillon mid station and have another break and a snack.
Points of Interest for this Trail
We have a large database of all of the points of interests in and around Chamonix. These are the points of interest you will find along this trail:
3D Map & GPS
Trail Route Map & GPS
You can download the GPX file and load this route into your own GPS enabled device or application. If you are on Strava, then you can open this route in Strava and save it to your account.
3D Map of this Trail
FATMAP in an incredible website and mobile application that you can use to view the trail in full 3D, do a fly over of the route and get a detailed vertical profile. You can view the FATMAP of this trail below and use the 'View larger map' link to visit the trail on the FATMAP website.