Hike around the Donon, sacred mountain of Alsace (4h)

Updated on 2024-04-23

Do you know the Donon massif? It is the highest point of the Basses-Vosges (in the north of Alsace, in the Bas-Rhin), located in the commune of Grandfontaine, in the Bruche Valley. This summit which culminates at 1 009 meters of altitude is known because of the sacred character which is allotted to him since the prehistory (undoubtedly because of its strategic position and because it was thus visible of far), and which was worth to him to be for a long time a place of worship. I had been wanting to go see what it looked like for a while, so I decided to go hiking there with some friends.

Laurène is the blog's creator. Originally from Brittany but now living in Alsace, she has fallen in love with her adopted region and loves exploring its every nook and cranny to unearth great ideas to share with you!

Hike from the Col du Donon parking lot (with Petit Donon option)

This loop hike on the Donon massif, of which I found the route on Visorando, has led us from the Donon Pass at summit of the Donon before descending quietly to Wackenbach through the Pass between the two Dononsthen to join the pass from where we had left. It’s a nice walk on nice paths, winding through the forest and leading to the top to a superb view of the surroundings. The climb is worth it! 😉

As an option, after the Col entre les Deux Donon and before going back down to Wackenbach, it is possible to take a path to reach the summit of the Petit Donon: this adds a small loop, and you can decide at the last moment if you want to do it or not.

The itinerary is globally quite easy to follow as long as you pay attention to the Club Vosgien markings: red rectangle during the ascent (where you are on the GR5 hiking trail) and the beginning of the descent, then different markings: look at the map and be vigilant!

Temple of Donon

An amazing place

The site of the Donon is very impressive. One can admire Gallo-Roman remains as well as an amazing temple-museum, built in the 19th century in memory of this past history and which has become a sort of emblem of the place.

I must say that I expected to find a ruin not necessarily exciting, but it turns out that the temple-museum is well preserved and sits majestically on its rocky platform offering a panoramic view, with Lorraine on one side and the Bruche Valley on the other. The place is superb, I loved it! A little before the summit, you will be able to admire the Gallo-Roman vestiges of this amazing place of worship.

Who built the Donon temple?

The Donon temple, which imitates a Greco-Roman temple, was built by the Colmar architect Louis-Michel Boltz in 1869, under Napoleon III.

How to get to the Temple du Donon?

There are several options available to you:

  • You can of course do the beautiful hike I just mentioned for a nice discovery of the Donon massif
  • If you only want to see the Donon without doing the whole tour, you can drive to the Col du Donon (park at the Maison Forestière du Haut-Donon) and then walk to the top. Then count about 40 minutes of walking on a nice steep path with big rocks. It can be a good option for a walk with children, for example. This part of the path is the most crowded but it is still nice. You can find the route here.
  • If you want to go hiking in the Donon without a car, you can make a loop starting from the station of Schirmeck. You can find the route here.
  • Temple of Donon and view from the top, superb!
  • Different types of forests on the way back
  • Circuit marking
  • Quite a lot of people at the top, not ideal for a quiet picnic

My photos of the Donon hike