Approaching the Tré la Tête Glacier
Summer hike
Approaching the Tré la Tête Glacier
Les Contamines-Montjoie

Approaching the Tré la Tête Glacier

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Approaching one of the biggest glaciers in France
From the forest to the foot of the glacier, this hike immerses you in the atmosphere of the highest nature reserve in France. This trail offers you a feeling of elevation with breathtaking views of the mythical peaks of the Alps!

9 points of interest

  • Flora

    Mixed mountain forests

    In the mountains, landscapes and vegetation change constantly according to altitude. This is called " elevational zonation". Natural areas between an altitude of 800 and 2000 m - depending on the slopes characteristics - are considered as mountain zones, the kingdom of forests...

    You can observe beautiful mixed forests, in which coexist deciduous trees, which have their leaves falling in autumn (such as beeches) and evergreen species (such as spruces or firs).

    Be discreet and pay attention, you might have the opportunity to hear a Woodpecker or the Hazel Grouse which very difficult to observe!
  • Flora

    the Sycamore Maple

    "Sycomore maple for sledges"... A typical expression from Savoie!

    This tree can be recognized by its 5 smoothy lobed leaves, as well as by its fruits called ‘samaras’; their forwards bended wings spread them by a helicopter drop!

    Some maples have an arche shaped trunk because it grew under the weight of the snow. These were used to make "sledges" which were once used to transport hay in the mountains...
  • Fauna

    The Hazel Grouse

    It is the smallest and most discreet of the mountain Galliformes species.
    It is much less known than the Black Grouse or the Rock Ptarmigan because it lives exclusively in the forest!
    But it is as important as the others from a biological and scientific point of view: it is an indicator species of environmental changes. Its specific demands in terms of vegetation and diversity of tree species ask for an adapted forest management. Bad preservation management of this habitats is one of the main causes of regression of the species.
  • Fauna

    The Chamois

    Its Latin name means "goat of the rocks". This ungulate is a high-level athlete, perfectly adapted to its natural environment: it has pincer-shaped hooves, excellent for rock climbing as well as for carrying its weight on the snow!
    When danger overcomes, it can flee on the steepest rocky slopes thanks to this equipments.
    And thanks to its cardio-respiratory capacities, this species is able to gain 1000 m of altitude in 15 minutes when a human does it at the average speed of 350 m in 1 hour!
  • Fauna

    The Alpine Accentor

    This little ball of feathers weighing less than 50 g is a typical bird of alpine habitats.

    Present in the mountains all year round between 1800 and 4000 m altitude. It nests in rock holes and comes down to milder altitudes during the winter.

    Its diet varies according to the season: it feeds mainly on insects in the summer, seeds in the fall and knows how to take advantage of the resources available around the cabins when winter comes!

    It is not very shy, and it is not uncommon to see it come nearby humans.
  • Refuge

    The refuge of Tré-la-Tête

    This refuge, located at an altitude of 1970 m, has a century long history.

    Created in 1907 to welcome mountaineering pioneers, it now brings together all mountain cultures. Alpinists heading for the summits, hikers doing a stopover for the day or on a itinerant journey, this is the location where your paths may cross.

    Ideally located, it offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding peaks and the village, settled 900 m lower!
  • A glacier and humans

    The Tré-la-Tête glacier is a mountaineering spot.

    It is indeed surrounded by the mythical peaks of the Mont-Blanc massif such as Dômes de Miage or Aiguille Nord de Tré-la-Tête, the highest point of the nature reserve with an altitude of 3892 m.

    It is the crossing point for many classic high mountain or ski mountaineering routes.

    Since the end of the nineteenth century this place witnesses the evolution of mountaineering activities.
  • A water intake under the glacier

    In 1939, engineer Max Waeber achieved a world first by building a water intake under the glacier. This intake is still used to supply an artificial lake (Lac de la Girotte in Beaufortin) for hydroelectric production purposes thanks to a ten kilometers underground tunnel network.

    In 2011, the nature reseve, in partnership with EDF, carried out a program to dismantle the industrial infrastructures (dormitories and cable cars)linked to the creation of this water intake.
  • The glacier of Tré-la-tête

    This giant, whose name means ‘beyond the head’, is the fourth largest French glacier! It is monitored on climate change aspects.

    Its health, monitored by the nature Reserve since 2014, is determinated by the volume of ice gained or lost. This is called the mass balance.

    8 km long, it spreads its tongue of ice from the mountain pass Infranchissable at the Italian border at 3300m of altitude, to the place where you are standing!


Go up the paved road that runs along the forest.
  1. At the intersection, take the trail on your right signposted "Refuge de Tré-la-Tête".
  2. Turn left on the signposted trail "Tré-la-Tête par les plans".
  3. At the junction, follow the direction of the refuge by the "Chemin Claudius Bernard".
  4. At the refuge, take the trail on the left towards the Glacier de Tré-la-Tête.
  5. The start of the return is by the same trail.
  6. At the bifurcation, go down the left path to the starting point.
  • Departure : Le Cugnon, Les Contamines-Montjoie
  • Arrival : Le Cugnon, Les Contamines-Montjoie
  • Towns crossed : Les Contamines-Montjoie

Altimetric profile

Sensitive areas

Along your trek, you will go through sensitive areas related to the presence of a specific species or environment. In these areas, an appropriate behaviour allows to contribute to their preservation. For detailed information, specific forms are accessible for each area.
Impacted practices:
Aerial, , Land, Vertical
Asters - Conservatoire d'espaces naturels de Haute-Savoie

Black grouse - winter

Impacted practices:
, Land
Sensitivity periods:


Always be careful and plan ahead when hiking. Asters, CEN 74 can not be held responsible for the occurrence of an accident or any inconvenience on this itinerary.

Information desks


04 50 58 09 28

18 Route de Notre Dame de la Gorge, 74170 Les Contamines-Montjoie



Shuttles from the center of the village of Contamines-Montjoie (from the end of June to the beginning of September).

Access and parking

Reach Contamines-Monjoie and at the exit of the village, cross the Armancette torrent bridge and follow the signs to the Tré-la-Tête parking.
The parking is located on the left of the road just before the town exit sign.

Parking :

Parking Tré la tête

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