A splendid walk starting from the Encanaux, near Auriol, along the top of the Infernets and then the Coutronne ravines. At times along the cliffside ravines, similar to some sections of the Gorges du Verdon. From Lare Pass (Col de la Lare), you will have a magnificent view of the Sainte-Baume range and the Pic de Bertagne to the south and Sainte-Victoire Mountain, Mont Olympe and Mont Aurélien to the north.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
In Auriol, take the D45A which later joins the D2, leading to La Coutronne and Plan d'Aups. Pass in front of the Maison du Légionnaire. As the road heads up, take the small road down towards "les Encanaux" on the left. Park in the car park on the left before the little bridge.
(D) Pass a gate and take the track (1) to the right with blue waymarks, leading up into the forest. A few yards further on, you come across an old ice-house. There is a board explaining the history and function of ice-houses, which are very common in the area, especially in Mazaugues.
Continue uphill. Where the path levels out and slopes down slightly you get to a crossing with a small, poorly maintained path which, to the right heads up a steep hill at a right angle to the initial path. (2). Take this path to the right, thus leaving the blue waymarks. Stay on this path as it leads south, climbing steeply among the brush and trees.
At the top (3), you come across a large rock and a large cairn. Take the path heading left below the rock. On the way down, go past the Abri du Figuier, then the Grotte des Infernets, which appears to be a deeper cave. Since we unfortunately did not have torches, we did not try to get as far as the end. Push on to the Grotte des Morts and continue through hillside, passing over sections of ridges amid the Provencal vegetation. The views are superb.
The path leads to a ford (4) and an intersection: take the right-hand path which leads up towards La Coutronne, with yellow waymarks. Stay on this path until you approach the D2.
About 50 m before the road, take a track heading left (5), leaving the yellow waymarks. It goes alongside a fence and past a smallholding. Walk along the top of the Coutronne ravine, enjoying spectacular views. Opposite, you can see the track rising to Lare Pass (Col de la Lare), which you'll climb shortly.
Continue straight on, passing a ford across a dry seasonal river, then pass through a cedar forest.
When you reach a wide firefighting access track (6), follow it to the left and climb up to Lare Pass (Col de la Lare) (7). From the top of the pass, there is a remarkable view of the Coutronne ravine, the Sainte-Baume range and the Pic de Bertagne. Follow this track heading north-west.
At a cistern and junction (8), take the track heading left towards Encanaux Bridge (Pont des Encanaux which is signed). Follow the track down towards Encanaux Bridge. To the north, you will see Sainte-Victoire Mountain, Mont Olympe and Mont Aurélien.
In a bend at highpoint 430 (9), leave the track, bear right and catch up with the same track further down. Continue left at the next junction and push on to Encanaux Bridge and the fitness trail (10).
At the bridge, take the right-hand track to return to the car park.
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0
1 : km 0.12 - alt. km 0.12 - Gate, intersection, blue waymarks
2 : km 0.31 - alt. km 0.31 - Intersection: path to the right
3 : km 0.57 - alt. km 0.57 - At the top, large rock, bear left
4 : km 1.6 - alt. km 1.6 - Intersection, ford, head right
5 : km 3.44 - alt. km 3.44 - Intersection before the D2
6 : km 5.45 - alt. km 5.45 - Intersection, firefighting access track to the lef
7 : km 7.33 - alt. km 7.33 - Lare Pass (Col de Lare), viewpoint
8 : km 10.29 - alt. km 10.29 - Junction, head left
9 : km 10.87 - alt. km 10.87 - Highpoint 430, intersection, bear right
10 : km 12.27 - alt. km 12.27 - Pont des Encanaux
D/A : km 13.05 - alt. km 13.05
No water spots available on this hike.
Good hiking footwear and the IGN map.
Don't forget your camera and binoculars.
Headlamps if you want to explore the "Grotte des Infernets".
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.