5 good reasons to discover trail running in Chamrousse!


Trail in the spotlight!

It's time to discover or rediscover the mountains and especially running in a different way, here in a trail version.
Is trail running only for ultra-trailers? No, not only...

Do you like running? Do you like the mountains? You'll love to try trail running!
What if this year was an opportunity for you? An opportunity to discover the mountain in a different way, a chance to test new running practices, but also maybe to rediscover yourself?
The top 5 reasons to discover Chamrousse's trail routes!
  •  - © Fred Guerdin

1) Close to Grenoble city

Chamrousse is a fabulous playground for hiking and trail running, less than 40 minutes from Grenoble, capital of the Alps.
To be rediscovered in all seasons, the mountain is transformed with the change of season. In autumn, with its shimmering colours, and in spring with the awakening of nature, it is an opportunity to be at peace and discover the wild fauna and flora. In summer, it is an ideal break from the heat of the valley. And in winter, a moment out of time for a trail on snow surrounded by the fervour of snow sports enthusiasts.
To know: no specific signposting in Chamrousse, refer to the existing hiking signposting or use mobile applications like On Piste to guide you.
The Grenoble spot in Chamrousse is 14 trail routes in summer and off-season: 4 easy routes for beginners, 4 intermediate routes to challenge yourself and 5 difficult routes to surpass yourself, but also 2 easy trails to experience the white trail in winter.

Safety: when practicing the trail, you evolve in the mountains under your own responsibility (for any problem, contact the mountain rescue at "112" or by sms "114").
Benefit: trail running in the mountains is less traumatic for the joints than running

2) From the city to the mountains

Running can be done in many places. If you are lucky enough to live or go on holiday near the mountains, another world opens up to you. But what is the advantage of running in the mountains (trail running) rather than in the city (running or urban trail)?
The feeling is different between road running and trail running, with a feeling of newfound freedom and gratitude for what nature has to offer. The main difference is the attention to be paid to your footing, as you have to get used to running on an uneven path where there may be holes and stones. The pace of the race will be much less homogeneous with changes in terrain and slope. But that's the beauty of trail running! Whether you run occasionally or are a marathon runner, it is possible to take up trail running.
All distances and difficulties exist for everyone's enjoyment and pride in excelling in beautiful places.

Fun side: adventure with personal discovery, but also collective sharing in tribe (friends, group, family...)
Benefit: non-negligible advantage in terms of health because the air in the mountains is less polluted than in the city
  •  - © Fred Guerdin
  •  - © Fred Guerdin

3) Diversity of landscapes

And as far as beautiful places are concerned, there is plenty to do, just with the 7 natural wonders of Chamrousse! On the programme, the mountains in all their splendour: lake and waterfall, forest and breathtaking views of the mountains and the Grenoble valley:
  • Seiglières swamp, Prémol site or Luitel nature reserve (on the access roads to Chamrousse): to start gently in any season on paths in the plain or forest at the gates of the mountain -> follow the hiking routes
  • Arselle plateau (protected site: sensitive natural area): a large, wild, almost flat area to get your feet wet in summer and autumn
     -> "Tour du plateau de l'Arselle" trail (green level, 3.6 km and 100 metres difference in altitude)
  • Achard lake (protected site: sensitive natural area): a must in Chamrousse between forest and lake, best in spring and autumn
    -> "Lac Achard trail by l'Arselle" (blue level, 5.5 km and 410 metres of ascent) or "Trail des lacs de Chamrousse-Belledonne" (red level, 12.4 km and 990 metres of ascent)
  • Oursière waterfall (from the Chamrousse road on the Seiglières side): a sporty journey through the forest with the reward of the gentle sound of the water and its ideal coolness in summer -> follow the hiking trails
  • Robert lakes: a technical and rocky adventure at the gateway to the high mountains, with splendid summer or snowy landscapes in late spring or early autumn
    -> "Lacs Robert" trail (red level, 6.6 km and 540 metres of ascent) or "Ramettes et Lacs Robert" (red level, 8.5 km and 600 metres of ascent)
  • GR®738 between Chamrousse and the Pra refuge (long-distance hiking trail): a high mountain trail to meet wild animals and numerous lakes to discover in summer (watch out for the patous, the dogs that protect the herd in the mountain pastures) -> follow the hiking trails
  • And the highlight of the show: the summit of the resort, the Croix de Chamrousse with its belvederes to enjoy exceptional panoramic views of the 4 massifs, the Belledonne range (of which Chamrousse is at the southern end), the Vercors, the Chartreuse and the Taillefer
    -> Grand tour de Chamrousse trail (black level, 13.9 km and 840 metres of ascent)
Fun side: contemplative dimension is part of the real pleasures of mountain sports
Benefit: variety of landscapes that is good for the mind and the spirit!
  •  - © Fred Guerdin
  •  - © Fred Guerdin

4) Diversity of levels

In mountain trails, there is something for all levels, all ages and all runner profiles:
In initiation mode
Recreational trail running means the first sessions can be done on terrain that is not very technical or not very steep. The objective is to run at least half the time and as the trail training progresses, gradually increase the distance covered and the altitude difference. You can start trail running for children from the age of 12 and for adults at short distances such as 5,000 metres / 5 km.
For this, there are 4 easy routes (green level) in Chamrousse:
  • Grenouillère in Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 0.5 km and 10 metres of ascent [split: alternating phases of running at a very fast pace and a slow pace].
  • Vallons lake from Chamrousse 1750 - Roche Béranger: 2.8 km and 170 metres of ascent
  • Arselle plateau loop in Chamrousse 1600: 3.6 km and 100 metres of ascent
  • Roche - Recoin link between Chamrousse 1750 and 1650: 4.4 km and 340 metres of ascent
In sporting mode
The trail is very often associated with a positive difference in altitude, and this is also why we like trail running in the mountains. You don't have to be afraid of the long climbs, because depending on the race or training session you want to do, you can either run or walk up and down. Indeed, when the percentage of slope is too important or the distance too long, it will be more efficient to start walking than to continue running. It is then necessary to train for this by doing splits. And if you don't have the opportunity to do long runs, it can be interesting to do at least short hill splits.
The 4 intermediate routes (blue level) of Chamrousse:
  • Aiguille to Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 1.6 km and 160 metres of ascent
  • Ramettes from Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 3.8 km and 230 metres of ascent
  • Achard lake by Arselle from Chamrousse 1600 - Plateau de l'Arselle: 5.5 km and 410 metres of ascent
  • Chamrousse loop from Chamrousse 1650 or 1750: 7.9 km and 400 metres of ascent
In expert mode
The version of the trail for dahus and mountain goats, it is the call of freedom and wide open spaces for experienced runners. They swallow up more than 10 km and a difference in altitude of more than 500 metres for their greatest pleasure, in training, but also in trail competitions such as the Chamrousse-Belledonne Trail in July (or exceptionally in the autumn).
The competition version of the trail is also the ultra-trail (close to ultra-running), that is to say trail running over a (very) long distance that exceeds 42 km (marathon) in one go: theoretically, all trailers are capable of running an ultra-trail after 3 to 5 years of training. These are trails on the scale of a massif like Belledonne or even several mountains like in Grenoble, with the Ut4M and the Echappée Belle, of which Chamrousse is an essential part.
The 5 difficult routes (red or black level) of Chamrousse:
  • Robert lakes by the Aiguille from Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 6.6 km and 540 metres of ascent
  • Ramettes and Robert lakes from Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 8.5 km and 600 metres of ascent
  • Chamrousse-Belledonne lakes trail from Chamrousse 1750 - Roche Béranger: 12.4 km and 990 metres of ascent [Chamrousse trail race event course].
  • Chamrousse big loop trail from Chamrousse 1750 - Roche Béranger: 13.9 km and 840 metres of ascent
  • Chamrousse all-round trail from Chamrousse 1650 - Recoin: 14.7 km and 860 metres of ascent
Sporting side: challenge and putting training to good use with the trail race
Benefit: endurance sport that sustainably strengthens the cardiovascular system (blood circulation and respiratory capacity)
  •  - © Bruno Maximim

5) Diversity of trail running practices

Trail running: a long-distance running sport in a natural environment, generally on dirt roads and hiking trails in the mountains (or on plains and forests). "Trail" is an abbreviation of "trail running".
Running is more focused on speed performance and is practiced on flat and regular roads. Trail running, on the other hand, is practiced in a natural environment, sometimes difficult and steep, and requires a more consistent effort management with these more difficult playgrounds.
-> All the trail courses in Chamrousse between resort and mountain

Fractional: a method which consists of alternating phases of fast and slow running to train while progressing and performing well. Typical short split sessions are: 10 to 15 x 200m, 10 to 15 x 300m, 10 to 12 x 400m or 10 x 500m. This basic training is effective for improving endurance in general with intermittent work (split) compared to continuous work (running at the same speed for X amount of time).
-> Grenouillère trail course (green level, 0.5 km and 10 metres of ascent)

White trail (or snow trail: white as the snow, winter version of trail running): practice running on snow with some adaptations, technical level and equipment, because it is also possible to make positive difference in altitude in winter trail running!
On a climb: analyse the terrain and find the best support in the snow (use the front of the foot). On smooth snow or homogeneous ski slopes, tap the tip of your foot in the snow to create a small step under your toes and get a better grip to propel yourself. In already tracked or groomed snow, aim for the holes and steps already created. Downhill: in powder snow, use your weight and don't try to brake too much (remember to open your arms for balance).
For the equipment: clothing adapted to the very cold conditions. You should apply the onion technique for clothing, with 3 layers (avoid cotton which retains moisture and cools you down and prefer synthetic or Merino wool, textiles which are warm, insulating and breathable) and think about optimal protection of the extremities, as they are responsible for 70% of heat loss! And you need shoes with strongly cramped soles, as there are many risks of slipping.
-> Roche - Recoin link trail (green level, 4.4 km and 340 metres of ascent)

Sporting side: if the snowfall is too heavy, take advantage of it to practice other sports (ski touring or cross-country skiing, good complements to the trail)
Benefit: complete sport with muscle strengthening (cardio, leg muscles, abdominal muscles, lumbar muscles and arms)

In conclusion, trail running is not only a competitive sport, it is also a conptemplative leisure of the mountain and its wonders throughout the seasons.

  • A question that has been debated: how do you pronounce the word "trail"? In English trail (phonetically \trɛjl\) or in French tr "ail" (like garlic)?
  • Good to know: the mobile application and website "On Piste" guides you via GPS on the trail paths and the mobile application "Chamrousse" challenges you with its outdoor activity tracking function (time, distance, average speed, route)!
See you soon in Chamrousse for the trail running adventure in the mountains:
All about trail running in Chamrousse
Chamrousse trail course
Trail race / competition in Chamrousse