Lovely loop above Val-des-Prés providing a bird's eye view of the famous Clarée Valley.
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.
Park in the car park on the way out of Val-des-Prés coming from Briançon.
(D/A) Cross the road and take the wide path opposite which begins in the woods, continue on until you reach a crossroads with a path where a sign on a tree indicates Dormillouse.
(1) Take the path on the left, which is a good path waymarked in Yellow, although the colour is quite pale. Climb rapidly via a succession of tight zigzags before crossing the Fournéous ravine.
(2) Carry on due north at an easier gradient, go into the forest and, after a 90° turn, you will reach the ruins of Lauze.
(3) Take the path again in a north-east direction, cross over the Lauze ravine, cross over and ignore the path for Dormillouse Pass on the right, and instead go downhill gently in a westerly direction. You will reach the Pinatelle ravine easily.
(4) In order to get over this ravine, you will need to make a slight detour to the right in order to re-join the path on the other slope. This section requires close attention because water, snow and avalanches in winter have destroyed the path. However, with care and attention, it's relatively easy to cross. Continue on downhill, going alongside a small picnic area (table). You will reach a crossroads which is indicated by only one cairn.
(5) Take the path on the right, the Yellow waymarking is quite faint. "This path is the one shown on the attached map, it does not appear on the IGN map." Go downhill a good distance until you reach the crossroads with the Cinquante Ânes cave.
(6) Turn right and undertake the large climb up to the cave.
(7) Go back down via the same route up to crossroads (6).
(6) Carry on straight opposite on the wide path (ignore the Yellow cross) and undertake a short climb until you reach the Yellow waymarked track.
(8) Turn right after you've read the sign for Val-de-Prés 40 minutes, meander through the woods until you end up on the roadside of the D994g to Névache.
(9) Ignore the road and head to the left on the parallel path which terminates at the car park (D/A).
D/A : km 0 - alt. km 0
1 : km 0.35 - alt. km 0.35 - Crossroads path
2 : km 1.21 - alt. km 1.21 - Pourchéous Ravine
3 : km 2.41 - alt. km 2.41 - Lauze Cabin
4 : km 3.93 - alt. km 3.93 - Pinatelle Ravine
5 : km 5.15 - alt. km 5.15 - Crossroads path cairn
6 : km 5.85 - alt. km 5.85 - Cinquante Ânes crossroads
7 : km 6.33 - alt. km 6.33 - Grotte des cinquante ânes - Cinquante Ânes cave
8 : km 7.05 - alt. km 7.05 - Sign for Val des Prés 40 mins
9 : km 7.99 - alt. km 7.99 - RD994g
D/A : km 9.09 - alt. km 9.09
No water points on this circuit except that of the torrents.
Picnic table before the caves crossroads.
Note: this hike is classified as Difficult because the paths go over slopes, particularly between points (2) and (3) as well as between (4) and (5). It could be really quite difficult for people who are prone to vertigo. In addition, the section around Pinatelle ravine may be too much for unseasoned hikers.
We advise taking IGN maps with you on this walk. Click here to buy : 3536OTR.
Hikideas and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
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Please note: the height difference is only 1200 m.
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The GPS track and description are the property of the author.