Écrins National Park
70 walking routes in the Écrins national park
By Kev Reynolds
Guidebook to 70 walking routes in the Écrins national park in the French Alps. The Massif des Écrins is mostly a national park, with summits over 3000m high. Routes follow well-marked trails in the Romanche, Vallées de la Guisane, Vallouise, du Vénéon and Valgaudemar.
SeasonsJuly to mid-September temperatures in the Ecrins range from 25°C to 28°C, but heavy rain and even snowfall can occur. Accommodation may be busy during this period. September is often more settled than July or August, but with lower temperatures.
CentresWalks centred on valley bases in Vallée de la Romanche, Vallée de la Guisane, Vallée de la Vallouise, Valgaudemar, Valjouffrey and Vallée du Vénéon.
DifficultySuitable for all experienced walkers, from alpine novices to experts. All walks are graded for difficulty.
Must SeeStaying in one of the alpine huts, spectacular scenery (glaciers and peaks over 3000m abound), rustic alpine hamlets, picturesque lakes, abundant wildlife and willdflowers
This guidebooks describes 70 mountain walking routes in the Ecrins National Park. Easily reached from Grenoble, the Massif des Écrins is one of the most spectacular regions in all the Alps. Most of the area is a national park, containing bold mountains hung with glaciers, and more than 100 summits over 3000m high. The park offers a profusion of alpine flowers, and romantic old villages and hamlets huddle in the valleys.
This is mountain country par excellence, but hundreds of kilometres of well-marked trails and a network of alpine huts make the Ecrins accessible to walkers. The highest peaks form a block at the very heart of the range, with a diverse assortment of valleys surrounding or spreading from it – Vallée de la Romanche, Vallée de la Guisane, Vallée de la Vallouise, Valgaudemar, Valjouffrey and Vallée du Vénéon. For this second edition of the guide, Kev Reynolds has chosen the best routes from each of these valley bases.
- 70 full- and half-day walks in France’s largest national park
- Walks graded for difficulty – suitable for all experienced walkers, from alpine novices to experts
- Useful information on refuge accommodation and all other aspects of walking in the region
The Valleys of the Écrins
The Parc National des Écrins
Notes for Walkers
Suggested Equipment List
Using the Guide
Vallée de la Romanche
Main Valley Bases
Other Valley Bases
1 Huez – Le Rosay – Bourg d'Oisans
2 Barrage du Chambon – Cuculet – Barrage du Chambon
3 Barrage du Chambon – Dôme du Lac Noir
4 La Grave – Les Terraces – Le Chazelet
5 Le Chazelet – Plateau d'Emparis – Lac Noir
6 La Grave – Signal de la Grave – La Grave
7 La Grave – Lac du Goléon
8 La Grave – Lac du Pontet – La Grave
9 La Grave – Les Fréaux – La Grave
10 La Grave – Refuge Evariste Chancel
11 Gare de Peyrou d'Amont – Lac de Puy Vachier
12 Refuge Evariste Chancel – Chal Vachère – La Grave
13 La Grave – Puy Vachier – La Grave
14 La Grave – Villar d'Arène – La Grave
15 Villar d'Arène – Refuge de l'Alpe de Villar d'Arène
16 Col du Lautaret – Refuge de l'Alpe de Villar d'Arène
17 Villar d'Arène – Sources de la Romanche
18 Refuge de l'Alpe – Refuge Adèle Planchard
19 Refuge de l'Alpe – Refuge du Pavé
20 Refuge de l'Alpe – Col d'Arsine
21 Col d'Arsine – Lac du Glacier d'Arsine
22 Villar d'Arène – Col d'Arsine – Le Casset
Vallée de la Guisane
23 Le Lauzat – Grand Lac – Le Lauzat
24 Monêtier – Col de l'Eychauda – Ailefroide
Vallée de la Vallouise
Main Valley Bases
Other Valley Bases
25 Entre les Aygues – Refuge de la Chaumette
26 Entre les Aygues – Refuge des Bans
27 Entre les Aygues – Collette du Rascrouset – Ailefroide
28 Chambran – Lac de l'Eychauda
29 Chambran – Col de l'Eychauda
30 Vallouise – Torrent de Gyronde – Vallouise
31 Vallouise – St-Antoine – Ailefroide
32 Ailefroide – Tête de la Draye
33 Ailefroide – Bosse de Clapouse
34 Ailefroide – Refuge du Pelvoux
35 Ailefroide – Refuge du Sélé
36 Ailefroide – Pré de Madame Carle
37 Pré de Madame Carle – Glacier Noir
38 Pré de Madame Carle – Refuge du Glacier Blanc
Main Valley Base
Other Valley Bases
39 Vallée de Champoléon – Refuge de Vallonpierre
40 Refuge de Vallonpierre – La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar
41 Refuge du Clot – Refuge de Vallonpierre
42 Ref de Vallonpierre – Refuge de Chabournéou
43 Chalet du Gioberney – Lac de Lauzon – Gioberney
44 Chalet du Gioberney – Refuge du Pigeonnier
45 La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar – Refuge de l'Olan
46 La Chapelle-en-Valgaudemar – Lacs de Pétarel
47 Villar-Loubière – Refuge des Souffles
48 Refuge des Souffles – Col de la Vaurze
49 Le Désert – Col de Côte Belle – Valsenestre
50 Valsenestre – Col de la Muzelle – Refuge de la Muzelle
Vallée du Vénéon
Main Valley Bases
Other Valley Bases
51 Bourg d'Arud – La Danchère
52 La Danchère – Lac Lauvitel
53 Bourg d'Arud – Refuge de la Muzelle
54 Refuge de la Muzelle – Lac Lauvitel – Bourg d'Arud
55 Pont du Plan du Lac – Vallon de Lanchâtra
56 St-Christophe-en-Oisans – Refuge de la Selle
57 St-Christophe-en-Oisans – Refuge de la Lavey
58 Champorent Parking – Refuge de la Lavey
59 Refuge de la Lavey – Lac des Beches
60 Champorent – Les Etages
61 Les Etages – Refuge du Soreiller
62 Les Etages – Vallon des Etages
63 Les Etages – La Bérarde
64 La Bérarde – Tête de la Maye
65 La Bérarde – Vallon de Bonne Pierre
66 La Bérarde – Refuge du Châtelleret
67 La Bérarde – Refuge du Plan du Carrelet
68 La Bérarde – Vallon du Chardon – La Bérarde
69 La Bérarde – Refuge du Temple-Écrins
70 La Bérarde – Refuge de la Pilatte
Appendix A Tour de l'Oisans: GR54
Appendix B Notes on Selected Peaks of the Écrins Region
Appendix C Useful Addresses
Appendix D Metric Conversions
Appendix E English-French Glossary
All the walks included in this guide may be followed using just one map: Carte de Randonnées Écrins published by Rando Éditions at a scale of 1:50,000 (1cm = 500m or roughly 1¼in = 1 mile). This may be obtained from major map stockists in the UK (addresses given in Appendix C), and is available in most valley centres within the Écrins region.
For walkers who prefer the greater detail on 1:25,000 scale maps (1cm = 250m or roughly 2½in = 1 mile), the IGN publishes no less than six sheets to cover the same area. Headed TOP 25, these are: 3535 OT Névache; 3536 OT Briançon; 3435 ET Valloire; 3436 ET Meije-Pelvoux; 3335 ET Le Bourg d’Oisans-L’Alpe d’Huez; and 3336 ET Les 2 Alpes.
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This second edition provides a fantastic walker's resource to the Massif de Ecrins. The Dauphine Alps being that little bit further south, are often blessed with better weather and are often quicker to clear. This guide is packed with good and useful information whether you are a walker, rock climber or Via Ferrata enthusiast or rafter, paddler or biker. It s well put together making it easy to use. Kev uses the simple grading system of 1-3, which allows for all abilities from those wanting an adventurous and challenging route, requiring reasonable Alpine walking experience, to those undertaking their first ever Alpine walk. What all the walks share in common, whatever their grade, is an objective of some description. This may be a high pass across the watershed, a fantastic panoramic viewpoint or reaching a mountain lake or hut. The guide is stuffed full of useful local information which is well presented and easy to use. The topos are well supported by photographs. There are longer multi-day hut to hut possibilities and general advice on Alpine walking and good background and safety information. This is an excellent update and a viable resource for anybody planning a visit to the region.
(Mike Margeson, AMI News, Sept 2008)
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A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.
Claiming to be The Man with the World's Best Job, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds.
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