The 1400 meter climb up to Chalet des Cortalets refuge, one of the access points to the Canigou peak, isn’t as daunting as it first appears. Yes, it is a long schlep up but on a steady track that is rarely too steep. The guidebook (see below) lists this trail as a two day hike, climbing to the refuge on the first day and to the Canigou peak and back down on the second. Having already climbed to the peak from the refuge the week before (see Trobada Festival on Canigou) we did this as loop trail with a quick side jaunt to the lake above the refuge to see the wild flowers.
One might think that the longer return via roc Mosquit would be on a gentler track, but no, this is a more difficult track with a mix of long relatively level stretches and steep downhill sections on scree. To add to the challenge there is a 220 meter climb to the col de Millères at the end of the trail. The trail does, however, pass an ancient pastoral village and on a clear day affords pretty views of the valley below. Nonetheless, unless you just have to loop or it’s a fabulously clear day I would recommend doing this trail as an up and back avoiding the longer slog back to Fillols.
In Fillols (take D27 off of N116 outside of Prades) park near the marie and pick up the yellow blazes on the road just opposite the marie. Continue following the yellow blazes and signs first to the col (pass) des Voltes and then taking a left at the fork (NOT towards the pic (peak) du Cogollo). The trail descends down to the Fillols stream before climbing again up to a dirt road with views back over the village.
Follow the road 100 meters to the right and take the trail to the right that runs along a valley before climbing via switchbacks through open forest.
At the col des Voltes pick up the dirt road and continue past the l’abri de la Jasse des Cortalets with views over the Tet valley, and up to a crossroad with a small parking area (no. 5 on the map).
To reach the refuge and Canigou peak beyond continue on the road that climbs to the left. At the bend a short ways past the parking area take the trail on the left blazed red and white to Chalet des Cortalets.Continue following the red and white blazes past the refuge and towards the lake. Here we stopped for a picnic among the pink azaleas and yellow broom before heading back down.
To reach Canigou continue on to the junction with the yellow blazed trail to the peak.
For the return, trace your steps back to the parking area (no. 5) and take the trail straight ahead to the roc (rock) Mosquit still following the red and white blazes. The trail first follows the ridge with views of the valley below before descending more steeply through forest. At the crossroads continue straight ahead towards Taurinya passing through open meadows to an ancient pastoral village. Pass through the old stone structures and descend steeply back into scrub forest.
At the crossroads (no. 11), follow the paved road blazed red and yellow to the left, crossing over the bridge and heading towards Fillols. At a house pick up a dirt track and continue on to the col de Millères. At the col take the paved road just in front of you and find the red and yellow blazed trail on the left just past the camping ground entrance. From here follow the trail back into Fillols and to the parking lot.
22 kilometers with about a 1800 meter total ascent.
From Les Pyrénées-Orientales – balade et randonnée à pied, #12 Le Canigó, par les Cortalets.
June 24, 2012
For links to all the posts in this series see the French Pyrenees page.