/ Canigou advice?

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I could do with some Pyrenees Orientales advice...

We've got a couple of days free to climb a hill in the eastern Pyrenees later in July and I was thinking of Canigou on account of its prominence and relatively quick access from the area we'll be staying in. Also it looks better than I'd thought in the photos I've found.

I've no map yet and only cursory coverage in any guidebooks I own, so I'm struggling to come up with a route with:

Non technical, just a walk or scramble

Decent access from the north

Possibility of a nice hut night so we can get high on the afternoon we arrive and then climb the hill next day 

Quality summit route - preferably a ridgey circuit lasting a few hours. Looks a possibility from the north side? 

I've read various bits online about people paying for 4x4 access. Anyone know how that works? That could be handy (it'll be hot low down) but it also makes me fear we'll end up trudging up dusty forest roads with loads of vehicles, and sharing the summit with hordes of day trippers. I don't mind seeing other people about, but would prefer to go elsewhere if Canigou in July is the Catalan equivalent to Snowdon but with the added joy of 4x4s roaring around  


Carlit: we've done it

Pic d'Estats: looks perfect for a 2-dayer but would be several more hours drive

Stuart en Écosse - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

Dan. I've approached from Vernet les Bains and descended to St Martin, (I didn't go all the way to the top), but maybe a bit too far to the west rather than north for you. The Refuge Bonne-Aigue is an open Cabane (with it in mind that it's over ten years since I was there) which might suit. It's at 1740m so still about 1000m up to go. Good paths and in one instance a landrover track for a short distance so quite easy going.

It was probably September when I was last there, no 4x4s, many cheerful French Catalans doing path building work but also watch out for hunters, there were signs everywhere and the occasional loud barking of dogs and gunfire.

Doug on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

Many years ago (early 1990s)  I was at a very boring seminar in Perpignan & persuaded two colleagues that a day's walking would be more fun than a third day of lifeless presentations. Based on the IGN map we went up by the Breche Durier (a scramble - see ) & back down the 'voie normale (a walk).  We drove to the Refuge des Cortalets in an ordinary car but maybe the road is now closed to the public. An alternative would be the crête du Barbet which sounds a bit easier ( ).

I've also approached the summit from a refuge on the south side but then veered westwards to Andorra via a couple of other huts.

But it does get crowded so probably worth avoiding the weekend

Lawrence Dudley - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

I don't know the area well, but french 1:25000 maps can be viewed online at

You just have to click on "cartes" in the top left corner, then "voir tous les fonds de carte" then select "cartes ign classiques"

I hope this helps!


In reply to Dan Bailey -

Thanks all, that's all really useful info. Crete du Barbet I reckon... but maybe not with the kids

Mike Rhodes - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

Hi Dan. There are two normal ways up Canigou. The "normal" way for most people involves a 4x4 from near to Prades which has to be pre booked up & down. It used to be possible to drive to the Chalet de Cortalet but not anymore as the road is blocked for cars about 1 1/2 hours from the Chalet unless you use the taxi service! From the Chalet it is a 2-3 hour walk up to the summit but you will not be alone as Canigou is the sacred Catalan summit. An alternative is to drive through Vernet le Bain towards the ref de Mariailles. Again you have to park before the refuge at Pla de Homme Mort from where it is about 1 hour to the refuge. The refuge is in a great position overlooking a gorge with fantastic climbing! The climb the next day is 1000m and takes about 4 hours with the only scrambling being in the last 300m, the famous "chiminee" where for the kids you may wish to take a short rope. The scrambling is not difficult and ends on the actual summit where there are fantastic views of Catalunya but you will not be alone on the summit. Return by the same route.

An alternative may be Pic Peric 2810m. You will have seen this peak from Carlit. You start from Formigueres ski station and drive through the station and up a forestry track to near the top of the first lift. Saves the knees on the descent. Walk over the Sierra de Mauri and down to the Refuge de Camporells which is in a fantastic position by several glacial lakes. Vivien the guardienne is super nice. Most nights the Mouflon come down to the lake side to eat and drink. The next day you can climb either the Petit Peric or the main summit of the Pic Perric, best by its SSE ridge with easy scrambling with a descent over Petit Perric by its E ridge and back to the refuge and then the car. Doing it with a stopover makes it quite reasonable. 

I am an IML and live just 5k from Formigueres so happy to help with any advice.


Mike Rhodes

Pyrenean Trails 

Jasonic on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Mike Rhodes:

Did the Mariailles route last summer, a lovely walk- plenty of woods/streams low down. 




MFB - on 09 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

IGN massif du canigou  2349 ET

Drive to Fillios  (above vernet les bains) continue up and west past campsite to parking at 1000m, marked on map.

Walk up marvelous wooded valley to Chalet des Cortalets (1000m height gain) , water stop, then 700m up ridge to summit. Good day out.


Alan Bates on 10 Jul 2018
In reply to Dan Bailey -

I've emailed you a link to a personal photo album from last year of a 24 hour circuit from valley to valley starting at Fillols.  you can follow paths rather than the 4x4 track, with an overnight in Refuge des Cortalets, followed by Crete de Barbet, 'Cheminee' approach to the east face of Mount Canigou, Pic Joffre, back to Refuge des Cortalets (to collect overnight things).  

I'm moving to the area at the end of August and on my hit list will be the 'Arete du Quazemi au Canigou'. Grade AD-, all on rock and lands you on the summit.  It is covered in the guidebook 'Les Pyrenees du levant', by Thomas Dulac and Pascal Testas.

In reply to Alan Bates:

Hey Alan, that's really helpful - thanks!

In reply to Mike Rhodes:

Brilliant, thanks for the update Mike. We've actually stayed in that refuge in winter - great spot 

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