10 hours (out and back); climb: 2100m
The most direct route between Vernet-les-Bains and Canigou. Fit, experienced walkers can reach the summit and return to Vernet in one day by this route.
1 - THE START (Vernet-les-Bains, Place de l'Entente Cordiale). We follow the D27 (the Fillols road). After a short distance, we go to the left to follow the Chemin des Escoumeilles, towards the St Vincent river.
2 - We cross a footbridge. We go to the right and, after a few metres, we go to the left.
3 - Intersection. We cross a road and we go straight ahead.
4 - Bifurcation, near a small car park. We go to the right... Our path climbs through a forest... The path crosses a small open plateau... The path re-enters the forest and it climbs in zig-zags.
5 - Clearing, on the top of a hill. (On the right, a monument to wartime Resistance fighters (the 'Maquis'), and a superb viewpoint.) We go to the left... The path climbs steeply, in zig-zags.
6 - Bifurcation. We go straight ahead... After a long climb, the path traverses a scree slope and then it descends a little.
7 - Mountain stream. We cross the stream and we follow the path opposite... The path climbs very steeply, in a pine forest.
8 - Track. (On the right, the 'Bonne Aigue' mountain refuge, and another magnificent viewpoint.) We go to the left, along the track, for a few metres. We then follow a path on the right (the path is indicated by red-and-white waymarks)... We leave the forest... We pass to the left of a handsome stone cabin ('la Casteille')... The path crosses a ridge and it turns to the right.
9 - Junction of paths. We go to the right. (To the left: a descent to the Chalet des Cortalets.) Here we leave the red-and-white waymarks. We now follow yellow waymarks.
10 - 'Pic Joffre'. Our path reaches a ridge again and it turns to the left... The path climbs along the ridge, towards the summit of the mountain... On the final section, the path climbs in zig-zags, across steep and rocky ground.
11 - The PIC DU CANIGOU. Altitude: 2785 metres.
We descend by the same route.