Written June 22, 2012
This loop trail around the Refuge de Mariailles – one of the access points to the Canigou peak – punishes in the first half of the hike with a steep downhill followed by an even steeper uphill climb to the col (pass) de Segalès. Thankfully all that hard work is rewarded by a scenic gentle decent back to the refuge. Add to the mix a delightful array of spring flowers and babbling brooks on a soft warm afternoon and you have the recipe for one of my favorite hikes in the area.
To get to the parking lot just above the Refuge de Marialles take the road to “col de Jou” out of Casteil and follow the signs to the refuge. The last 15 – 20 minutes is along a rough dirt track accessible by most vehicles.
From the main building of the refuge
walk back up the main entrance road to the red and white blazed trail heading into the forest to the right. The first part of the trail descends through the forest following alongside a narrow gushing canal. Continue to follow the red and white blazes.
At the crossroads take the trail to “Jas de Moura”, now following the yellow blazes. From here the trail mostly climbs,
but with a short downhill to cross the river,
eventually arriving at the orri (small stone structure) de Moura with views of the surrounding mountains.
After a welcoming stretch of relatively level trail, continue following the yellow blazes through patches of wild azaleas
to the “col de Segalès”. This trail highpoint is more of a crossroads than a viewpoint. From here pick up the red and white blazes again towards the Refuge de Mariailles, gently descending through open forest with views across the valley and back over the refuge.
The trail crosses wild flower lined streams,
a large talus field of jumbled, green-tinted rock
and an imposing waterfall at the head of the valley.
After this bend the trail continues on the opposite valley wall
before plunging back into the forest and arriving at the refuge where cows were grazing in the late afternoon sun.
12.5 kilometers with an 810 meter total ascent.
From Les Pyrénées-Orientales – balade et randonnée à pied, #13 Le Chemin des Estives.