14 hours (out and back) (or 10 hours); climb: 2100m (or 1850m)
A classic route between Vernet-les-Bains and Canigou. Most walkers stay overnight at Cortalets on the ascent, then climb to Canigou and return to Vernet the next day. Alternatively, it is possible to start above Fillols and walk to the summit and back in one day.
1 - THE START (Vernet-les-Bains, Place de l'Entente Cordiale). We follow the D27 (the Fillols road). After a short distance, we go to the left to follow the Chemin des Escoumeilles, towards the St Vincent river.
2 - We cross a footbridge. We go to the right and, after a few metres, we go to the left.
3 - Intersection. We cross a road and we go straight ahead.
4 - Bifurcation, after a small car park. We go to the left, still on a lane... At a bifurcation, we go to the left, on a path... The path, stony, climbs in a forest.
5 - 'Col de Juell'. We go to the right. At a bifurcation after a few metres, we go straight ahead... At a second bifurcation we go straight ahead and we climb... At a third bifurcation we go straight ahead.
6 - Bifurcation (soon afterwards). We go to the left... The path descends into a gorge; it crosses a stream; it goes to the right; and it climbs steeply.
1a - Car park, next to a track above the 'Col de Millères'. We climb the track... We follow a path (a shortcut) on the right.
1b - The track again. We go to the right, on the track.
7 - 'Citerne', on a track. We climb the track. After a few metres, we go to the right, on a path... After nearly a kilometre the path enters a forest... A long and hard climb follows.
8 - 'Col des Voltes'. We go straight ahead, on a wide track which climbs gently... We stay on the track and we pass a small mountain refuge, the 'Jasse des Cortalets'.
9 - 'Ras (Col) dels Cortalets' (crossing of tracks and paths). We go to the right, still on a track... Where the track bends to the right, we go to the left, on a path (with red-and-white waymarks).
10 - 'Chalet des Cortalets'. After the 'chalet', we follow the path, which is very clear, towards the summit (and we still follow red-and-white waymarks).
11 - Bifurcation of paths. We go straight ahead. Here we leave the red-and-white waymarks and we follow yellow waymarks... The path passes 'Pic Joffre', where we arrive on a ridge... The path climbs towards the summit and it follows the ridge... On the final section, the path climbs in zig-zags, across steep and rocky ground.
12 - The PIC DU CANIGOU. Altitude: 2785 metres.
We descend by the same route, as far as the 'Ras (Col) dels Cortalets' (13).
13 - 'Ras (Col) dels Cortalets'. We can descend on the outward route, or we can descend as follows:
13 - We follow a path on the right... The path descends in zig-zags, in a forest... The path crosses a mountain stream and it passes beneath the mountain refuge 'Balaig'.
14 - Track. We go straight ahead, on the track... We pass through a short tunnel.
15 - 'Escala de l'Ours'. Here begins a series of zig-zags in the track. We descend, on the right, on a path (shortcut)... We follow several shortcuts, which are very clear, and we cross the track several times.
16 - The track, at an altitude of 1100m (small car park on the right). We go to the left, on the track...
For Vernet-les-Bains, we stay on the track as far as point (7) ('Citerne') and then we follow the outward route.
For the car park above the 'Col de Millères', we go to the right, on a path (shortcut)... We cross the track (1b)... Again on the track, we go to the left and we follow the track as far as the car park (1a).