Walks near Vernet-les-Bains and to Canigou

PIC DE TRES ESTELLES

1 - THE START: a bus stop on the road into Escaro, with a mine museum and a café on the left. We follow the red-and-yellow waymarks of the 'Tour des Réserves Naturelles' (almost as far as the summit). We go up the 'Rue des Sept Cases', ahead, on the left, just after a telephone booth... At a street crossing, we go to the right ('Rue de la Fontaine')... At a junction, we go to the left, up the 'Carrer dels Matxos'.

2 - Street crossing, at the edge of the village. We go straight ahead, onto an unsurfaced lane... The lane (which becomes a path) climbs above the village, for some distance.

3 - Path/track junction (gate on left). We go to the left. We cross open ground and then we enter a forest.

4 - Junction with a wide forest track. We go to the right, along the track... At a track junction, we go straight ahead (towards the 'Col de la Llose')... At a junction of the track and a footpath, we go to the right and we climb on the path.

5 - Col, in open country. We go to the left, on a track which goes towards a forest. On the edge of the forest, we follow a path on the right of the track... At a path bifurcation, we go to the left... We climb in a forest for a long distance and we cross the track five times.

6 - Clearing, on a ridge. We follow the path to the left. (The path stays quite close to the line of the ridge from here almost to the summit.) At first the path goes to the left of the ridge line; then the path goes to the right; then the path goes to the left again... The path climbs in zig-zags and we reach a col... We continue to climb, with the summit above on the left.

7 - Col, near a gate and a path junction. Here, we leave the red-and-yellow waymarks. We turn left and we follow a path which climbs to the summit of the Pic de Tres Estelles.

8 - Summit, with views of mountain ranges on almost all sides. We turn right and we descend a steep slope along the line of a ridge. (Just after we begin this descent, we can go a short distance out and back to the left, to a rocky promontory, for a view towards Vernet-les-Bains.)

9 - Path bend (to the left). We leave the ridge and we follow the path to the left. We enter the forest again. The descent is quite steep in places.

10 - The 'Font de Prat d'Avet'. There is usually water flowing from this spring. The path bears to the right. We climb a little and we traverse rocky, open ground... We re-enter the forest. The path zig-zags downhill.

11 - Chalet ('Maison forestière'). We turn to the right and the path continues to zig-zag down through the forest.

12 - Path junction. We continue straight ahead (the path on the right goes to Thorrent). We traverse an area of open country, then we re-enter the forest... The path descends through a former iron-ore mining area... At another path junction, where the path straight ahead goes to Aytua, we go to the left... At another path junction, we continue straight ahead. (From here to Escaro, we follow red-and-yellow waymarks again.)

13 - Small clearing (path/track junction). We go to the left. After a fairly long descent, the path bears to the right, with views towards Escaro.

14 - Road (cemetery on the left). We turn left, along the road. The road crosses a stream. We bear to the right, and we climb the road back to the start of the walk in Escaro.