Late Summer Trail Running Near Montreux
After my quick trip to Fontainebleau last month, I happened to find myself for a few days in Montreux, Switzerland. The early morning runs I did on trails very close to the town were highlights of the visit. The mountains rise pretty fast from the town – which provides an opportunity to get a ton of vertical really fast – and the views are incredible … so I’m psyched to share a few observations here for anyone else who might find themselves in that area. Here goes!
Located near the eastern end of Lake Geneva, the Municipality of Montreux is rich in scenery and history. It’s old too: there’s been a settlement there for at least 1,000 years due to the strategic location it occupies on the trade routes from Italy to northern Europe. The mountains are amazing and the lake is beautiful. The overall area is actually called “Switzerland‘s Mediterranean.“ While I’m not sure we saw any actual Russian oligarchs, it certainly seems like a place they would hang out.
But – first – how is any of this like starting an apparel brand? Well, maybe it’s because you have to make the time to take advantage of the stuff that’s right around you, no matter where you are? That feels like the work I’m doing with Mill & Mountain these days – and it definitely felt like my time in Montreux – where I got up super early to do these runs!
Lake Geneva sits at about 1,200 feet above sea level. Very close to the town of Montreux are hills and mountains that rise to 6,700+ feet above sea level. This means you’ve got a good 5,500 feet of climbing you can do right out your door if you’re staying in the town – or maybe a little less if you’re staying a little higher up (as we were). Either way, there are footpaths leading from the town up into the hills, and these paths turn into trails that can take you deeper into the mountains – and that in turn join up with a vastly broader network of trails all over the area.
My main focus was the peak called “Rochers de Naye“ (translated, basically, the Rocks of Naye) which is an enormous cliff band that has its top elevation at about 6,700 feet above sea level. There were also a couple of other subsidiary peaks in the area that I ran to as well – including one called “Le Dente de Jamon” (the “tooth of Jamon”), and another called Merdasson. I also was on a long ridge trail off Rochers de Naye which included a pretty memorable Via Ferrara (translated, basically, as "iron way" – which essentially amounts to rebar handles in the side of a cliff). (For specifics, check alltrails.com and search Montreux.)
A funny thing I observed was that you could be running in an area which felt pretty remote, through a field of cows or whatever, and then all of a sudden you popped out at a train station. There’s a large network of cog railway trains that travel up the sides of mountains in Switzerland – and there is one of them in this area. No trains for me – I was purely on foot – but does provide an opportunity to get up the mountain for those who want or need to go under something else’s power.
My typical morning run had about 4,000+ feet of vertical (over ~8-10 miles each time), so I definitely felt it later in my quads. I was generally hoofing it pretty fast down the hills – as I was trying to make it back to the place we were staying before the breakfast buffet ended. (It was close, but I generally made it in time!)
Nothing much to note, gear-wise. Wore my Mill & Mountain stuff, as usual - plus trail runners since the trails were pretty steep and rocky. You can’t get poles through TSA in a carry-on bag, but these trails are in places super steep - which makes poles very helpful ... so I found two sticks in a gutter near the bottom of the mountain and then used them for all my runs. I got pretty attached to one of these sticks over the days we were there and actually brought it back to the US, using it as my “cane“ and trying to act decrepit through the airport. (The airline just asked me if “I was going to use it as a weapon,” and when I said “non” the guy was mollified and let me carry it through…(!!))
Anyway, check Instagram for more pics (mill.and.mountain). It’s an amazing place. If you’re in the area and want some great runs definitely check it out. But definitely get an early start if you wanna make it back in time for breakfast!
P.S. Here's a pic of some cows & a train station near the top of the cliffs!