Walks near Vernet-les-Bains and to Canigou


Pic de Tres Estelles (description) map


6 hours;  climb: 1300m

A fairly hard, but very rewarding walk, from the former mining village of Escaro to the summit of the "Three Stars" mountain.

1 - THE START, a bus stop on the road into Escaro, with a mine museum a little further down. 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… 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 - Edge of open country (with former agricultural terraces). We go to the left. We follow the waymarks to the right, then to the left... 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 principal track five times.

6 - Clearing, on a ridge. We follow the path to the left. The path crosses and re-crosses the line of the ridge a number of times, but it mostly stays quite close to the ridge, from here almost to the summit. Towards the end of this section, the path climbs in zig-zags and we reach a small col. Beyond this 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 at least a trickle of drinkable 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 in zig-zags 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 this junction 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.