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.



July 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.


Walks centred on valley bases in Vallée de la Romanche, Vallée de la Guisane, Vallée de la Vallouise, Valgaudemar, Valjouffrey and Vallée du Vénéon.


Suitable for all experienced walkers, from alpine novices to experts. All walks are graded for difficulty.
Must See

Must See

Staying in one of the alpine huts, spectacular scenery (glaciers and peaks over 3000m abound), rustic alpine hamlets, picturesque lakes, abundant wildlife and willdflowers
14 May 2008
18 Apr 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
  • Overview

    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
  • Contents

    The Valleys of the Écrins
    The Parc National des Écrins
    Getting There
    Notes for Walkers
    Suggested Equipment List
    Recommended Maps
    Using the Guide
    General Information
    Vallée de la Romanche
    Main Valley Bases
    Other Valley Bases
    Mountain Huts
    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
    Mountain Huts
    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
    Mountain Huts
    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
    Mountain Huts
    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
    Route Index

  • Maps
    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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    We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our contact form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).

  • Reviews

    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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Kev Reynolds

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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