Petit and Grand Cols Ferret

A Orsières walk posted on 13/08/19 by Alwayswiththehills. Update : 14/08/19

A lovely circular walk taking in both of the Col Ferrets. Done the way described means that you will ascend the steeper sections and enjoy the easy descent following the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB) path.

Technical sheet
Calculated time Calculated time: 6h10[?]
Distance Distance : 13.92km
Vertical gain Vertical gain : 927m
Vertical drop Vertical drop : 924m
Highest point Highest point : 2552m
Lowest point Lowest point : 1669m
Average Difficulty : Average
Back to starting point Back to starting point : Yes
Walking Walking
Areas Areas : Alps, Mont-Blanc (Massif)
Location Location : Orsières
Starting point Starting point : N 45.914968° / E 7.105204°
Map IGN Map (Click to buy) : Ref. 3630OTR
Download :
Petit Col Ferret, centre, with snow patches leading up to it. Make way for the packhorse Surreal Landscape Looking down on the Italian Val Ferret


Park at the village of Ferret. As you drive up from La Fouly, pass through the village and park on the right. If all places are full, there is parking available further on at Les Ars Dessous. (8)

(D/A) Leave the parking and head into the village of Ferret, at the first house on the left there is a signpost.

(1) Turn left at the signpost and follow the path to Petit Col Ferret, it will cross a bridge over the river and head through light woodland and then up through a pasture (there may be cows) to the Gite de la Lechere.

(2) Turn immediately uphill on a path beside the wood fired BBQ/fireplace and follow the path more steeply uphill through pastures to the cow byres at Lechere Dessus. Just below the barns, you will pass a strange stream where the water must pass through limestone as it has left orange stained calcium deposits.

(3) From the barn, continue uphill through the pastures and into an area covered in myrtille bushes. Follow the path through the myrtilles with a rocky ridge (Cretet de la Gouille) on your right until the path ascends up onto the ridge.

(4) From the top of the ridge, follow the path into the Combe des Fonds. This is a most tranquil and beautiful spot where the whistling of marmots, the bleating of goats and the rushing of water provide the soundscape. The path climbs uphill, passing old snowfields and into a narrower combe (Taves du Dolent) where the path ascends through scree next to larger snowfields and up to the Petit Col Ferret.

(5) The path to the Grand Col Ferret is signposted. Cross into Italy and follow the path, which is narrow at first and which has some steep slopes below it. The path contours beneath Le Chantonnet and becomes better defined as it contours beneath the Tete de Ferret, leading to the Grand Col Ferret. The views into the Italian side of the Val Ferret are great.

(6) Cross back into Switzerland and follow the busy Tour du Mont-Blanc path which leads easily down to refuge at La Peule.

(7) From La Peule, take the good farm track which zig-zags down to the valley at Les Ars Dessous and the junction with the road end.

(8) At the junction, turn left and follow the path back to the parking (D/A).

Waypoints :
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0 - Car park
1 : km 0.07 - alt. km 0.07
2 : km 0.92 - alt. km 0.92 - Gite de la Lechere - Gite de la Lechere
3 : km 1.68 - alt. km 1.68
4 : km 3.08 - alt. km 3.08
5 : km 5.13 - alt. km 5.13 - Petit Col Ferret - Petit Col Ferret
6 : km 6.53 - alt. km 6.53 - Grand Col Ferret - Grand Col Ferret
7 : km 10.11 - alt. km 10.11 - La Peule - La Peule
8 : km 12.91 - alt. km 12.91 - Junction
D/A : km 13.92 - alt. km 13.92

Useful Information

The Gite de la Lechere (2) does some good food and their ice cream is delicious. If you do the walk in reverse it would be a good place to stop before doing the last bit downhill to the parking.
Done in the direction described, La Peule (7) is also a good place to rest and I can recommend their fruit tart and a glass of fresh milk.

Done in the direction described means that the steepest ascents are done up to the Petit Col Ferret (5) and the descent is gentle. You will need walking boots or at the very least good approach shoes with soles that can deal with grass, mud, scree and rock.

We did the walk a day after storms hoping that the cloud would burn off and lift. We entered cloud at the Combe des Fonds, it lifted a little as we traversed towards the Grand Col Ferret (6) but remained on the higher mountains; thus we missed the views of the Mont Blanc Massif. It was also cold once we had done the walk up and we had to put on wind proofs the keep the chillout. Make sure you have appropriate clothing with you.

We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 3630OTR.

Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.

During the walk or to do/see around

The calcium deposits in the stream below Lechere Dessus are of interest. The Combe des Fonds is a very tranquil place and the views down the Val Ferret are amazing. You should also get some good views of the Mont Blanc range on a day without cloud.

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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.