GR20 Corsica

GR20 Corsica

Trail specs

Distance (mi.) Stages Elevation Gain Best Time Difficulty



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Trail description

The GR20 is on the bucket list of many hikers. We were able to check it off of our own bucket list a few years ago. Click here to view our full photo album of this spectacular adventure.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

The route crosses Corsica diagonally from north to south in fifteen hiking days. The trail consists of two parts: the northern part between Calenzana and Vizzavona; and the southern part from Vizzavona to Conca. The southern part is easier and less spectacular, while the northern part is a lot nicer but also requires more focus.

The GR20 in Corsica has been known as the toughest long-distance route in Europe for years. The trail owes this title mainly to the fact that you have to climb around 36,000 feet (11,000 m) spread over 15 days. And although you don’t need any climbing equipment anywhere, people with fear of heights can better stay away here. More than once you have to rely on your hands and feet to climb your way up. Steep cliffs are your most loyal ally during the entire journey.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

Especially when the Cirque de la Solitude was still part of the route, the GR20 received much acclaim from the most adventurous hikers. The Cirque de la Solitude was a legendary passage, where hikers first had to descend extremely steeply in a so-called funnel valley before climbing up again almost vertically. Click here to see a video of Leen climbing out of the Cirque de la Solitude.

However, the ropes, cables and ladders that had to help you on this stretch were permanently removed in 2015. It was a drastic decision that was made following a major accident in which seven hikers died. The unfortunate hikers were surprised by bad weather. A landslide dragged the adventurers down. They didn’t stand a chance.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

These seven victims were unfortunately not the first deaths the GR20 has claimed. At the time when we were hiking the trail there was already a loss of life and also when Wim returned to his footsteps a few years later, another hiker fell prey to the dangerous trail. Wim then decided to leave out the Cirque de la Solitude, because there was still too much snow and ice on the route. It turned out to be a wise decision …

Despite the many horror stories about the Cirque de la Solitude, some hikers continue to do the dangerous passage today, even without the help of ropes, cables and ladders. Since June 2018, the Cirque de la Solitude is again open to the public, although entering it is still at your own risk. A geologist warned that there are still unstable rocks and other landmasses in the area that can fall down any moment and will drag everything down on its route. Instead of putting your own life – and that of other rescuers – at risk, you better opt for the alternative route that will lead you over the shoulders of Monte Cinto. This temporary alternative route that was mapped out as a result of the closure of the Cirque de la Solitude, has now become the official GR20 trail. Anyone who was looking for sensation on the GR20 will also be catered for on this alternative route, because it remains a treacherous route that is best avoided in the event of bad weather. And an additional advantage is that the alternative route is more beautiful and has some stunning panoramas in store for you.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

What distinguishes the GR20 from many other routes in Europe are the harsh conditions. In other words, even without the Cirque de la Solitude, the GR20 is not exactly a hiking trail for beginners. You can only resupply in the huts that you pass along the way. The sanitary is very basic, although it seems that in recent years investments have been made in order to establish better hygiene. If you want to spend the night in the cabins, you must book in advance. You can also put up your tent next to the hut, or you can sleep in one of the many tents that are already set up. Camping in other places is not permitted anywhere along the route. The surface on Corsica is particularly rocky. So make sure you have adjusted pegs in your backpack.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

You can also eat a meal in the cabins. Despite the fact that most cabins are supplied on horseback, on foot or by helicopter, the prices are reasonable. If you prefer to cook yourself, you can buy simple ingredients in the cabins to put a simple meal on the table. At most huts there is even a stove with gas bottles installed outside, which you can use.

Don’t plan your GR20 too tightly. Make sure you have a few spare days so that you can have a rest day in case of bad weather. Under time pressure you will only make irresponsible decisions, and that is never a good idea on this trail. In addition, those spare days give you an excuse to spend a little more time enjoying the incredible scenery that will leave you astounded. With its impressive granite rock formations and clear blue glacier lakes, you cannot fail to fall in love with this French island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Picture by A Hiker’s Tale

Does Corsica sound like music to your ears, but do you fear that the GR20 is a bit too much of a good thing? No problem, maybe the somewhat easier Mare a Mare Nord is something for you.

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