10 hours; climb: 1600m
A long, hard mountain route which takes you up to glorious ridges and summits in the Canigou massif.
1 - THE START (car park, 'Col de Jou', above Casteil). We follow the path which is signposted for Mariailles and which has red-and-white waymarks. (The jeep track to Mariailles is below, on the right.)
2 - Junction with the track to Mariailles (and a small car park). We go to the left and we follow a path alongside a small canal, still with red-and-white waymarks... The path climbs in the forest, steeply and in zig-zags... After a rocky ridge, the path descends a little.
3 - 'Col du Cheval Mort'. We leave the red-and-white waymarks. We cross a small canal and we climb a few metres. We meet a track. We go to the left, along the track.
4 - Junction with the track to Mariailles. (On the left is the 'Randé' car park.) We go to the right, along the track, for a few metres. Then we go to the left and we follow a path which climbs in the forest... In a clearing, we pass to the right of a dry stone cabin... The path climbs in zig-zags in the forest.
5 - Junction with a jeep track. We go to the left, along the track, for a few metres. Then we go to the right and we follow a path which climbs in the forest... On the shoulder of the hill, we cross undergrowth, with a fence on the right.
6 - Fence crossing. We go through the crossing... We pass to the right of a small spring ('Font de Dona Pa')... We climb a little, then we descend towards a gate.
7 - Junction with a track ('Collade de la Roquette'). We go straight ahead, along the track... We cross a stream and a barrier which is composed of large boulders.
8 - Track bend. We leave the track (which goes to the right). We climb straight ahead, towards a plateau (there is no path)... On the plateau, we go to the left... We pass alongside rock outcrops and we descend to a col.
9 - 'Col des Boucacers'. We go straight ahead. The climb of nearly 400 metres, towards the 'Pic des Sept Hommes', is long and hard. We sometimes cross boulder fields. There is an intermittent path and a few cairns, but it is preferable to select our own route towards the summit. If in doubt, it is preferable to go a little too much towards the left, and to join the ridge to the north-west of the summit.
10 - 'Pic des Sept Hommes'. An exceptional viewpoint, especially towards the Pic du Canigou. We go to the right and we follow the ridge towards 'Pic de Bassibes' and 'Puig Roja'.
11 - 'Puig Roja'. In fact, there are two summits, both at an altitude of 2724m. After the first summit, we go to the left, we cross rock outcrops, and we arrive on the second summit.
We descend to the 'Col de Jou' by the same route.
Note: in summer, the jeep track between the Col de Jou and the car park at 'le Randé' is open to traffic. However, the surface of the track is sometimes quite rough and the track can be unsuitable for vehicles without high ground clearance.