Tré la Tête Glacier, return by the gorge
Summer hike
Tré la Tête Glacier, return by the gorge
Les Contamines-Montjoie

Tré la Tête Glacier, return by the gorge

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A day loop on different types of terrain for a variety of landscapes, a pleasure to the eye.
From the forest to the edge of the glacier, this hike runs through varied environments which will reveal different aspects of the highest nature reserve in France.

9 points of interest

  • 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.
  • 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!
  • Panorama

    The belvedere of Combe noire

    Enjoy this natural belvedere to catch your breath. But be aware that the rock is slippery and the area unsecured!
    You overlook the forest and the hamlet of "Combe Noire". Its name refers to the forest cover composed almost exclusively of dark colored spruces.
    From this amazing viewpoint, discover the pastures of La Rollaz crossed by the hiking trail. From the left to the right, you can see Roches rouges, Roches franches, Aiguilles de la Pennaz, Col du Bonhomme, Rocher du Bonhomme and at the end Tête Nord des Fours.
  • Geology

    The waterfall of Combe noire

    Take a break on this bridge and enjoy the cool spray from the Combe Noire waterfall. Can you imagine that the glacier of Tré-la-Tête reached this exact location in 1870! Since then, it has lost a few hundred meters but you can still feel its presence through the torrential river which formed impressive sculptures called "giant's pots" by a deafening eroding process of the rock !
  • Flora

    The Alpine autumn Crocus

    It's the end of summer... It's during this season that the Alpine autumn Crocus flowers. Its name refers to Colchis in Greece, the homeland to the enchantress Medea.

    This plant contains a very toxic alkaloid: colchicine. According to alchemists, this substance, used in very low doses, would cure rheumatism and acute flares of gout.
  • Flora

    The bogs at la Rosière

    On your left are located the bogs of La Rosière, but be careful, admire them from the trail because these are fragile habitats with high biodiversity!

    Originating from the ice age, this wetland was first a depression eroded by the glacier in which the melting ice stagneted. It’s a paradise for carnivorous plants such as Alpine Butterwort or the Round-leaved Sundew...


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. You have arrived. The start of the return is by the same trail to the refuge.
  6. At the bifurcation, go down the left path.
  7. Turn left and cross the bridge in front of the waterfall.
  8. Turn right to go down towards Notre-Dame de la Gorge.
  9. Continue on the trail that runs along the torrent.
  10. Keep going on the same trail.
  11. The trail ends here. Go up along the paved road to reach the car park 150m further.
  • Departure : Parking « Tré la Tête », les Contamines Montjoie
  • Arrival : Parking Tré la Tête, 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:


This itinerary runs through a nature reserve, please consult the regulations.


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

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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