Snowshoeing in the Pays des Écrins
Snowshoeing is the ideal activity to get back to your roots in the great outdoors…
It is not by chance if the activity has existed for thousands of years; however, the equipment has greatly evolved since the first snowshoes that had wooden frames and leather straps.
This method makes it possible to walk on layers of soft snow: attached to your hiking shoes, snowshoes increase the surface in contact with the snow so that you don’t sink in. Most people can go snowshoeing and it doesn’t take long to learn. Everyone can go at their own pace in keeping with the surrounding natural environment.
With abundant, good quality snow and a unique panorama as a backdrop, take time to explore the wide open spaces of the Pays des Écrins. Maybe (if you’re lucky) you’ll encounter a chamois or a white grouse in the heart of The Écrins National Park.
Nature lovers and those who enjoy winter outings (on foot or snowshoes), will love the trails that wind their way across mountains, frozen streams, villages and hamlets.
On the different sites of Freissinières, Puy Saint Vincent and La Vallouise (Pelvoux - Vallouise - Les Vigneaux), there are many marked and tracked trails making it possible to view an exceptional panorama and explore unique, timeless sites.
Warning: the access to Ailefroide and the Fournel Valley are possible on foot or snowshoes, under your own responsibility, depending on the snow conditions and the risk of avalanche.
You can choose to do this activity by yourself or decide to enlist the help of a mountain specialist. From initial discovery sessions to more athletic sessions, for a half or full day, they offer organised outings on several themes. They will give you valuable advice for safely roaming the area, so you can explore the magnificent routes and unsuspected wonders of this legendary area, and nature as it sleeps. Children are welcome from age seven. Loan of technical equipment.
Under the stars
Contrary to what you might think, snowshoeing is not an activity that is carried out only during the day time! With the help of a starlit sky, or a full moon, it is another way to escape and experience different intense emotions.
Advice for walkers and snowshoers
Some paths and trails are open to snowshoers. Signs indicate the routes that you can follow.
They are free in the Fournel Valley, Freissinières Valley and Vallouise Valley (between the Les Vigneaux and Pelvoux).
Please make sure you pay attention to the cross-country ski trails.
Animals (even on a lead) are prohibited on the paths.
To make it easier to reach the higher altitudes, some lifts are open to walkers and snowshoers providing they purchase a pedestrian ticket. These are Les Prés (between 1400 m and 1800 m) and La Bergerie chairlifts (between 1600 m and 2200 m) in Puy Saint Vincent, and the Préron chairlift in Pelvoux.
You can get the pedestrian/snowshoeing map from the Tourist Office and Information Desks in the Pays des Écrins as well as in the cross-country skiing reception chalets in Puy Saint Vincent and Vallouise.
Safely enjoy the mountains
The mountains are a place of wonder which you can explore on your own.
Before you leave, in order to set off into this potentially dangerous, multifaceted environment in the best conditions, make sure you:
- Check the weather forecast and the snow conditions
- Choose a route that corresponds to your abilities
- Inform your friends and relatives of your outing
- Do not leave on your own
- Take the appropriate equipment (transceiver, shovel, probe, mobile phone)
- Take a snack and a bottle of water
- Turn back if the slope is too steep
- Turn back if you have a doubt concerning your route