A Family Walk in Search of Giant Pine Trees (Les Sapins Geant)

We first tried this walk in early spring (2018). It was warm and sunny in the valley where we live, but a few hundred metres up on the plateau there was a chill in the air and still thick ice in places on the ground. We weren’t dressed for it so were happy to abort when it turned out that my navigation attempts had failed (It looked so obvious on the map!) Our second attempt was much more successful.

It was nice, then, to return on a warmer day and set out in search of the giant trees, following the route I’d seen on the Rando Pyrenees website and having researched it a little more complete. We took with us some snacks and extra layers, just in case: better to be prepared and make it all the way round!

The walk starts from the small parking area next to the now unused forester’s house and refuge. After walking for around 5 minutes you come to a clear area, just opposite a turning to the left, where there’s an information board. This the start of the walk into the forest.

Once you’re on the path through the forest it’s pretty simple to navigate: there’s really only one path to take and, where there are turns they are marked using the usual route marker notation – one of the many enjoyable things about walking in this part of the world!

Once in the forest you start to wonder just how big the giant pines will be because they all seem pretty giant! You can see evidence of the size as there are the remains of some of the larger trees along the edge of the path. There are also orienteering posts around but I have yet to find a map that puts them together to form a meaningful (or practical) orienteering trail (that’s one of the things I can now say I took for granted in the UK!)

Continue to follow the marked path and eventually you start to descend deeper into the forest. On the day we did the walk, it really did feel as though we were entering a dark and mysterious pit.

Sadly this time we didn’t make it all the way to the giant trees as there was already a small group standing around admiring and photographing them. With two children in tow we didn’t want to lose any good will be making them wait for any amount of time so we decided to keep moving and continue on our way: to be perfectly honest all the trees felt like giants to us anyway!

A short while after the highlight of the walk the route starts to loop back and you come back onto the wide track for a little while before going onto a footpath through a much younger section of woodland. After walking in the shadows of the giant trees it’s a really nice change to be out in a more open part of the forest. This section of the route is also more diverse, with wild flowers along the path that runs through young beech and hazel saplings.

You continue along this path before you are again returned to the main track, which you follow back to the start point.

I apologise for the lack of detail on this write up – the markings make it easy to navigate and for the duration of the walk we were trying to manage our then 4-year-old who had reached a point of yelling, “I never want to see another tree as long as I live” but that was my bad because we ran out of snacks sooner than intended; I’m sure she enjoyed it really.

If you do do this walk do make sure have either the map downloaded from the randonnee site linked above OR use the GPX track download the bottom of this page. A “proper” map, like the IGN or a map on your phone is also handy for peace of mind. Personally I find it incredibly hard to navigate while also trying to keep track of free range children.

Download the GPX File

Buy a Map

You can buy a map that covers the area included in this walk from Amazon UK*.

* This post contains an affiliate link to a trusted source.

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