A few times now, MBFF has headed to Cordon, to walk the « Sentier Découverte de la Forêt à Cordon » (« Forest Discovery Trail »). We first discovered this trail about 8 years ago, when we had a baby in a backpack and a little boy in tow, and I had been meaning to write a full article about it every since!
The « Forest Discovery Trail » is an annotated trail through the forest (predominantly a spruce forest, with a bed of myrtilles bushes), perfect in length and variety for families with young children. The path can be muddy and slippery underfoot, depending on time of year and recent rainfall, so do take due care (and a spare pare of clothes for each child!).
Our autumn visits have been with older boys, and we’ve enjoyed the trail just as much ! As I looked through my photos from our first summer visit in 2015, my heart melted – those cherubic cheeks of my children aged 18 months and 4,5 years, the baby-carrier, the wobbly walk with a huge grin, the highligh playing with the stones on the 4×4 track . . .
Our first visit was in mid-summer, and the colours were prodominently lush greens, and we found wild raspberries on the trail . . . The autumn visits were lush in colour and in mushrooms!
timing: 1h to 1h30 (to stroll and read all of the panels);
map & fiche: here
The hike in photos
You start this short hike from the picnic spot of Les Plaines . . .
. . . and you follow this logo from the Espace Mont-Blanc for the whole boucle (children do love following signs!):
You’ll see plants and perhaps (depending on the season), you can pick berries or mushrooms.
[ disclaimer: know what you’re doing; remember that most mushrooms are poisonous! My husband spent the whole walk collecting mushrooms, only to find that they weren’t the edible ones he thought they were! ]
You’ll find explanatory pannels and quizzes along the way (some are a bit worn by time and weather!) . . .
This walk is rich in ferns (fougères) . . . I really, really love ferns!
And also pine and larch . . .
There are bridges to cross . . .
. . . and often boggy ground underfoot (I repeat, take spare clothes, even for older children!) . . .
Mid-way through the short hike, you’ll find yourself in the thick of the spruce forest – this is beautiful in both summer (when lush green) and autumn ( when more sparse, but stunning with colours) . . .
You may come face-to-face with a large fourmilière (ant-hill) :
And you’ll get glimpse of the Massif du Mont-Blanc . . .
Eventually, you’ll emerge from the forest out onto a gravel path . . . As we walked down this path this time (Daddy off hunting for inedible mushrooms), I remembered 5 years back my little one sat down in the road to play with the stones – it was his favourite part of the “forest hike”!
And another 15 minutes down the gravel track and you’ll arrive back at the aire de pique-nique . . .
Aire de pique-nique des Plaines
One of the best features of this hike is the fact that it starts and ends at the most lovely picnic spot – aire de pique-niques des Plaines. There are 3 wooden tables and plenty of space for games (and views of the mountains too!).
You can drive all the way up to the gravelly 4×4 track (route forestière du Bois de la Jorasse) at Les Pontets, to Parking des Plaines (no tarmac on the road above Lezaive d’en Haut);
Or you can start your hike at lower altitude, from Pont des Nants ( you can park here), which has a pretty bridge and kids can play in the mountain stream in summertime.
Further hikes nearby
From the Parking des Plaines, there are several further hikes, if you have more able hikers in your group:
- Boucle d’Avenaz & Col du Jaillet – gorgeous mountain chalets, flora and views of Massif du Mont-Blanc! / the MB Race passes here is summer / ⇒ more information here;
- Col du Jaillet – it is 1 hour up to this pretty mountain pass;
- Petit & Grand Croisse Baulet – a longer hike, needing an early start, but spectacular!