The GR20 Corsica
The High Level Route
By Paddy Dillon
Guidebook to walking the GR20 through Corsica's high mountains. A challenging trail between Calenzana and Conca that includes hands-on scrambling, the 190km trek can be completed by fit walkers in about two weeks. The guidebook includes high and low-level alternatives, plus extra mountain climbs, and all you need to know for this tough route.
SeasonsPossible mid-May to mid-October; June or September is ideal, with July and August being the hottest and busiest months.
CentresCalvi, Vizzavona, Porto Vecchio; limited accommodation and facilities on or near the route.
DifficultyThe GR20 is a challenging walk (with scrambling) through isolated mountain terrain for experienced, fit walkers; backpacking throughout.
Must SeeThe ascent of Monte Cinto and the ascent of Paglia Orba.
This guidebook describes the classic GR20 trek, the north to south traverse of the rugged mountains of Corsica. Starting in Corscia's north-west, in picturesque Calenzana, the route winds south-east, through the heart of Corsica, finishing on the eastern side of the island, just north of Porto Vecchio in the township of Conca. Described in 16 stages with high level/low level alternatives for relevant stages, the route is roughly 200km in length and takes approximately two weeks to complete. The GR20 climbs high into the mountains. It is demanding trek and only suitable for experienced walkers.
Step-by-step descriptions of each stage are accompanied by 1:50,000 mapping, together with information on ascent/descent, terrain, and food, water and shelter en route. Also included is invaluable information such as path conditions, what to take, and getting to/from and around Corsica. This comprehensive guide also includes information on the history and geology of Corsica, together with notes on the local plants and wildlife.
An island of surreal beauty, Corsica showcases dramatic mountains, enchanting coastline and ethereal vistas. Bare rock and sheer cliff contrasts with black sand beaches, alpine pastures and pockets of forest. Mediterranean flair abounds, history lingers and culture is celebrated, making it the perfect destination for a trek bursting with adventure.
Getting to Corsica
Getting around Corsica
Getting to the GR20
When to trek
How to trek
What to take
Services along the route
Food, drink and fuel
Using this guide
Plants and wildlife on Corsica
Stage 1A Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu (high-level)
Stage 1B Calenzana to Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu (low-level)
Stage 2A Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carozzu (high-level)
Stage 2B Refuge d’Ortu di u Piobbu to Refuge de Carozzu (low-level)
Stage 3 Refuge de Carozzu to Ascu Stagnu
Stage 4 Ascu Stagnu to Auberge U Vallone
Stage 5 Auberge U Vallone to Hôtel Castel di Vergio
Excursion Ascent of Paglia Orba from Refuge de Ciottulu di I Mori
Stage 6 Hôtel Castel di Vergio to Refuge de Manganu
Link route Bergeries de Vaccaghja to Corte
Link route Refuge de Manganu to Soccia
Stage 7 Refuge de Manganu to Refuge de Petra Piana
Link route Brèche de Capitellu or Bocca a Soglia to Bergeries de Grotelle
Excursion Ascent of Monte Ritondu from Refuge de Petra Piana
Stage 8A Refuge de Petra Piana to Refuge de l’Onda (low-level)
Stage 8B Refuge de Petra Piana to Refuge de l’Onda (high-level)
Link route Bergeries de Tolla to Tattone and Vizzavona
Stage 9A Refuge de l’Onda to Vizzavona (low-level)
Stage 9B Refuge de l’Onda to Vizzavona (high-level)
Stage 10 Vizzavona to Bergeries d’ E Capanelle
Link route La Foce to Bocca Palmento
Stage 11A Bergeries d’ E Capanelle to Bocca di Verdi (low-level)
Stage 11B Bergeries d’ E Capanelle to Bocca di Verdi (high-level)
Stage 12 Bocca di Verdi to Refuge d’Usciolu
Link route Refuge d’Usciolu to Cozzano
Stage 13 Refuge d’Usciolu to Refuge de Matalza
Link route Tignosellu to Zicavo
Link route Zicavo to Refuge de Matalza
Stage 14 Refuge de Matalza to Refuge d’Asinau
Alt Stage 13/14 Refuge d’Usciolu to Refuge d’Asinau (variant)
Stage 15A Refuge d’Asinau to Village de Bavella (low-level)
Stage 15B Refuge d’Asinau to Village de Bavella (high-level)
Stage 16 Village de Bavella to Conca
Appendix A Facilities along the route (Calenzana to Conca)
Appendix B Facilities along the route (Conca to Calenzana)
Appendix C Accommodation list
Appendix D Basic language notes
Appendix E Useful contacts
Appendix F The Cirque de la Solitude
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On 4th May the Refuge d'Ortu di u Piobbu was burnt to the ground,
possibly deliberately. While the camping area and water supply are
unaffected, there will definitely be no indoor accommodation available
during 2019. A temporary shelter will be in place to offer meals, and
the camping area and water supply are unaffected. Work might start very
soon on rebuilding the refuge, and bear in mind that the Refuge de
Carrozzu, next in line along the GR20, might be rebuilt shortly too,
along with the Refuge d'Asinau, towards the end of the GR20. Remember
that a low-level route allows trekkers to omit the Refuge d'Ortu di u
Piobbu, linking Calenzana directly with the Refuge de Carrozzu in one
day. Full details are in the guidebook.
The PNRC has changed its website address and has also launched a new online booking system for the refuges and campsites. The PNRC website is now www.pnr.corsica and the booking website is now reserver.sitecresa.fr/centraleresa/parcnaturel. It is also worthwhile clicking on the link titled 'punaises de lit information randonneurs', which explains all about the ongoing bedbug infestation in the refuges. To discuss the trail with other users, see corsica.forhikers.com/forum.
Reconstruction of Refuges
A major project will start during 2018, where the basic GR20 refuges will be reconstructed, expanded and improved. This will probably take place at the rate of two or three refuges per year. While building work is taking place at refuges, accommodation is likely to be available in large, military-style tents. All other services, such as camping places, meals and the sale of food and drink will be unaffected.
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Paddy Dillon is a prolific walker and guidebook writer with over 90 guidebooks to his name, and contributions to 40 other titles. He has written for several outdoor magazines and other publications, and has appeared on radio and TV. Paddy is an indefatigable long-distance walker who has walked all of Britain’s National Trails and several European trails. He has also walked in Nepal, Tibet, Korea and the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the US. Paddy is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and President of the Backpackers Club.