Family walk – The panoramic tour of the Grand Ballon

by | Updated on 19/07/2023 | Crest road, Hiking, On a budget, Open on sundays, With kids | 0 comments


On the road of the crests, between Sainte Marie aux Mines and Cernay, we find the highest summit of Alsace: the Grand Ballon. After a good farmhouse inn nearby, my sister, our children (ages 4 to 8) and I chose this summit hike, advertised as easy and all-public. She had some surprises in store for us!

The descent to the Haag farm

We parked at the Grand Ballon parking lot, in front of the Chalet-Hotel of the same name. We started the walk at the back of the hotel by following the red and white rectangle marker of the Club Vosgien. The descent begins on the north side and… with a guest! One month after the beginning of spring, there is still snow on the slopes of the highest mountains in the Vosges that are the most sheltered from the sun. It’s great for kids, but even with good sneakers, a few slips were on the agenda. It was necessary to take the fold! We went down to the Haag farm, walking carefully and admiring the beautiful landscapes and the surrounding peaks that were offered to us.

Climb the famous GR5, between precipices and magnificent landscapes

Arrived in front of the farm of Haag, we change beacon and we follow the red rectangle, which makes us borrow the famous GR5, path of great excursion of Nice in the Netherlands. On the southern slope, we are gaining height, a lot of height! The two older girls, 7 and 8 years old, manage. The little one, at the top of his 4 and a half years, also, but he needs all along the ascent of help and security facing the precipices on the side. I must say, I had a few cold sweats! A piece of advice: even if my baby didn’t do too badly, go there with children over 6 years old. Despite everything, the climb gave us magnificent panoramic views all along the trail, between the Vosges mountains and the Alsace plain. We passed by rocks, worthy of the steppes, more rocky paths but also a forest of twisted trees still naked.

The panoramic circuit on top of the Grand Ballon

We then follow the panoramic circuit marked by a circle surrounded by red to reach the monument of the blue devils which was erected in honor of the alpine troops of the First World War. They succeeded in reconquering the Vosges summits and held on to them until the end of the war. Phew! There are a few wooden fences on this trail. We feel a little safer! Arrived at the summit, we make a small pause and our girls take advantage of it to try the mountains of stone, numerous all around the monument. Then we go to the panoramic terrace of the radome (radar) which makes us the king and queen of the world (well, of the Vosges, at 1424 m high and it’s already not bad!).

Last efforts!

We are already on the last part of our journey following the blue circles. We cross stretches of golden grass and arrive again on the northern slope (but if you know, the one where there is still snow 😉 ). After a descent made of laughter, pants and wet sneakers thanks to the slides, we arrive again at the parking of the Chalet-Hotel.

A well-deserved snack break before heading back home! Finally, we did it in 1h45 instead of 1h30 announced. Not bad despite the unexpected, right?

I liked

  • The magnificent views of the Vosges mountains and the Alsace plain
  • The variety of landscapes, even more so at this time of the year when all the trees are not yet “dressed” and there is still snow despite the mild temperature.
  • Climb the highest peak in the Vosges!
  • Games and laughter in the last snow

I liked less

  • The precipices which, in my opinion, are dangerous with children of all ages (that’s my view as a parent, certainly!) but even more so for children under 6 years old. If not, you need a child carrier!

My photos of the Grand Ballon panoramic tour

Practical information


You can download the PDF of the route here.

Departure and arrival

Parking du Grand Ballon (in front of the Chalet-Hotel du Grand Ballon).


  • Distance : 2,7 km
  • Elevation gain : 179 meters
  • Duration : 1h30/45


By car

The starting point is the Grand Ballon parking lot. Count it:

  • 41 km from Mulhouse (about 50 minutes)
  • 49 km from Colmar (about 1 hour)
  • 125 km from Strasbourg (about 1h40)
By public transport

This is not possible :-/



Clémence aime dénicher des bons plans pour sa petite famille mais pas que. Curieuse de tout, elle a toujours aimé vadrouiller en Alsace - et ailleurs - et partager ses expériences avec ses amis et tout ceux qui en avaient besoin. Elle est très fière de pouvoir contribuer aux aventures de Mon Week-End en Alsace !


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