How to wild camp at Lac de Lessy, including Pic de Jallouvre detour

Hiking and wild camping guide for Lac de Lessy hike (with Pic de Jallouvre detour)

  • Beautiful scenery with rocky, moonlike landscape and grassy, green mountains
  • Pretty Lac de Lessy
  • Day hike or overnight hike
  • Wild camping or refuge accommodation are both possible during this hike
  • No gondola or parking fee, so this hike is free!
Lake Lessy in between the surrounding mountains.
Tents next to Lac de Lessy

Table of Contents

Best places to wild camp along the Pic de Jallouvre hiking trail

Wild camp option 1: Lac de Lessy

There is only one spot flat enough to camp next to Lac de Lessy, right below the refuge. Other parts around Lac de Lessy are too steep for camping. There is space for about 3 tents next to the lake, or 5 tents if you really crammed them together. A bit further along there is space for another 4-5 tents, though these spot won’t have a lake view!

When I was there in August there were about 8 tents near Lac de Lessy, which is a bit too crowded for my liking. 

The sun at Lac de Lessy disappears behind the mountains around 17:00 – 18:00 and only reappears around 11:00 in the morning (in August). 

Drawing where camping is and is not permitted.
This image is meant as an impression. Please do your own research where exactly you can and can't camp.

Is it legal to wild camp at Lac de Lessy?

Update: Since 2022 camping at Lac de Lessy is not allowed. It is forbidden to camp at or near the lake from the 1st of June until the 30th September every year. Bivouac and camping under the stars is also prohibited.  You can find a map of where camping at Lac de Lessy is prohibited in this document from the commune of Glieres Val de Borne or on the Glieres Val de Borne website. I was there in 2021 when it was still allowed to camp at the lake, hence the photos in this blog post.

Back in 2021, the last year that wild camping at Lessy lake was still legal.

Wild camp option 2: the grassy hills slightly before Lac de Lessy

I went for this option and camped just before Lac de Lessy because of the evening sun and to be completely alone in the beautiful scenery! You’ll be able to see the sun until it sets. The sun comes up above the mountains at about 09:30, depending on the time of year.

Make sure you carefully study the map mentioned above so you know where you are and aren’t allowed to wild camp near Lac de Lessy.

Schematic drawing of where wild camping is permitted near Lac de Lessy.
This drawing is schematic. Please check for the most recent rules and regulations before wild camping near Lac de Lessy.
Green tent and a sunset
Our tent away from Lessy lake. You can see the iconic peak on the horizon.

Other accommodation: Refuge Lac de Lessy

For those who don’t want to carry a heavy backpack, there luckily is a refuge at Lac de Lessy. You can find more information about prices and contact details on the website of Le Refuge de Lessy. 

Refuge Lac de Lessy next to Lessy lake.
Refuge Lac de Lessy next to the lake

Hiking guide: Lac de Lessy trail including detour to Pic de Jallouvre

First of all, the trails aren’t marked, so you’re going to need to use to navigate the Pic de Jallouvre hike because the hiking trail isn’t indicated on Google Maps. There are different trails and turns offs, so a map really is necessary. 

The indicated times are how long it took me with a heavy backpack and without breaks. Keep in mind you might be a quicker or slower hiker than me, so these times are just as estimation. 

Part 1: Parking lot - highest point: 2,5 - 3,5 hours

This first part of the hike is steep! We lost the trail for a while and had to scramble up on all fours over loose rocks.

Parking lot with cars at the base of the Lac de Lessy hiking trail. Green hills.
Free parking at the start of the Lac de Lessy hike
The steep start of the Lac de Lessy hiking trail.

Optional: Detour to the peak Pic de Jallouvre

This optional detour is actually a must on the Pic de Jallouvre hike! You’ll have the best paranormal view of Lac de Lessy and the surroundings. You can find more information about the Pic de Jallouvre hiking trail on All Trails.

Person standing on Pic de Jallouvre ridge
The start of the detour to Pic de Jallouvre

Part 2: Highest point - Lac de Lessy: 1,5h

On this second part of the hike you’ll mostly be hiking down. Again the trail is scree, with loose stones and gravel. It’s also a slanted hiking trail, so all in all it’s a challenging trail with big backpack. I tripped and fell more than once on this part. On the final stretch to Lake Lessy, the trail becomes much better.

Buck standing on a green ridge
You will see buck along the hiking trail
Sunset behind the mountains near Lessy Lake
Person on the hiking trial headed to Lessy lake.
Person with big backpack hiking toward Lessy Lake.

Part 3: Lac de Lessy - ridge: 30-45 min

From the Lac de Lessy it’s a short, steep climb up up until the ridge.

Cows lying next to the Lac de Lessy hiking trail

Part 4: Ridge - parking: 1h 45min

After the ridge it’s a long, steep hike down. After that it’s a flat walk back to the car park.

Trail conditions Lac de Lessy hiking trail

The trail has a few sections with scree, meaning loose rocks. Some parts of the trail are slanted with loose, fine sand covering hard paths.  I fell, tripped and stumbled a few times. All in all, I would describe the trail conditions pretty poor and poorly marked. This isn’t intended to discourage you, but rather to give you an impression of the trail conditions to expect.

Hiker walking up the mountain

How to get to the start of the Lac de Lessy/Pic de Jalouvre hike

To reach the starting point of the hike to Pic de Jalouvre/Lac de Lessy (by car), it is only:

  • 1h drive from Annecy
  • 1h drive from Chamonix 

Further reading: blog posts for the adventurous traveller

Further reading: adventurous things to do in France

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Further reading: adventurous things to do in Switzerland