GR20 | Tough But Amazing Hike In Corsica, Europe | Mountain IQ
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GR20 – A Tough But Amazing Trail In Corsica (With Video Overview)

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The GR20 is a beautiful and spectacular long-distance hike across the ​French island of Corsica.

The GR20 is one of the toughest long-distance trails in Europe. The 112-mile (180km) trail traverses the Mediterranean island of Corsica, from north to south, beginning in Calenzana and ending in Conca.

Although one of the most difficult trails, it is also considered to be one of the most beautiful mountain trails in Europe. This guide will provide you with everything you need to know before embarking on your journey.

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GR20 Trails Overview

Quick Facts

  • ​The GR20 is one of the longest and toughest long-distance hikes in Europe.
  • Length: The hike spans north to south across Corsica and is 112-miles (180km) long.
  • The total ascent is around 10600m.
  • ​The GR20 is considered to very tough. This hike should not be taken lightly, and it is a significant physical challenge, especially considering you will be carrying a heavy backpack. The hike is technical, steep and strenuous.
  • No permit is needed to hike the GR20.
  • ​There are mountain huts (refuges) that are owned by the national park. You also have the option to camp near the refuges or stay in privately owned hotels.

The trail consists of two parts. The difficult and rocky northern part, where you will be having to tackle constant steep ascents and plunging descents, it begins in Calenzana and ends in Vizzavona.

The Southern part, which spans from Vizzavona to Conca, is the easier leg of the trail, but not as spectacular as the northern part. You can choose to do either of the two parts or complete the entire hike from Calenzana to Conca.

You can do the trail in either direction, but it is most often done from north to south. If you are looking to avoid the crowds it is suggested that you hike northwards.

The trail, separated into 16 sections, winds its way along the jagged granite spine of Corsica’s mountainous center.

The terrain is rugged, but the trails are well marked with red and white rectangles on rocks, boulders and trees.

Although the trail is well-marked it is still highly recommended that you make use of a map to avoid getting lost.

The amount of time needed to complete the trail can vary considerably from hiker to hiker, but on average it should take hikers between 11-16 days.

When planning your trip, be sure to factor in an extra day or two in case of inclement weather. You may also want to consider a few extra days to enjoy the rich culture and history of the various villages as well as spend time at the beautiful beaches.

Mountain huts known as refuges offer basic accommodation along the route as well as the option to purchase food and drink. These refuges generally consist of one large dormitory that sleeps between 25-50 people.

You may also have the option to sleep in a tent near one of the refuges, this option is also a bit cheaper than staying in the actual refuge. It is recommended that you pack a tent in case any of the refuges are booked so you have a place to sleep.

Wild camping is prohibited so you will need to make sure you set up camp in the vicinity of a refuge. There are also private lodgings along the trail and although they are more comfortable they will also be more expensive.

It is recommended that you visit in late June and early September when most of the refuges are open, the weather is not so hot, and the trails are not so crowded.

Avoid hiking in July and August as this is the most popular time and the trail will be crowded.

    Highlights Of The Trail
  • ​Cirque de la Solitude: This is a steep and challenging part of the trail, you will encounter this obstacle in the 4th section. Hikers will have to climb with chains that are bolted to the rockface.
  • Lac de Nino: This is a beautiful glacial lake in the middle of grassy meadows. This can be found in the 6th section.
  • Lac de Melo and Lac de Capitello: These are two glacial lakes surrounded by rugged rocks in the 8th section.
  • Monte d’Oro: This is the 12th highest summit of Corsica located in the 9th section.
  • Monta Incudine: The highest mountain of Souther Corsica. It provides great vistas of Plateau de Coscione and can be found in the 13th section of the trail.
  • Aiguilles de Bavella: These are spectacular cliffs you will encounter in the 14th stage.

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We do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact ​GR20 quote from our recommended website click below.

Regional Map

​The GR20 hike is considered challenging, therefore it is important that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself in to.

Recommended Guidebook

​This guidebook provides low and high-level alternatives, extra mountain climbs and everything you need to know about this tough route including what to bring, maps and how to trek.

This guidebook promises to provide you with all the information you could possibly need when embarking on this hike.

With this guidebook you will feel prepared and confident to embark on your journey.

Typical Itinerary

It is recommended that you embark on the hike in late June or early September. The number of days needed to complete the hike varies greatly from hiker to hiker.

If you choose to do one section per day, the hike will take you 16 days, weather permitting. You can either do the trail from north to south (as per the itinerary) or south to north.

​First stage: Calenzana to Ortu u Piobbu

​Second stage: Ortu u Piobbu to Carrozzu

​Third stage: Carrozzu to Haut Asco

​Fourth stage: Haut Asco to Vallone

​Fifth stage: Vallone to Ciottulu di Mori

​Sixth stage: Ciottulu di Mori to Manganu

​Seventh stage: Manganu to Petra Piana

​Eighth stage: Petra Piana to L’Onda

​Ninth stage: L’Onda to Vizzavona

​Tenth stage: Vizzavona to Capanelle

​Eleventh stage: Capanelle to Col de Verde

​Twelfth stage: Col de Verde to Usciolu

​Thirteenth stage: Usciolu to Crocce

​Fourteenth stage: Crocce to Asinau

​Fifteenth stage: Asinau to Bavella

​Sixteenth stage: Bavella to Conca

Video Overview

In this video by Friendly Hiker, you can see that the GR20 is truly one of the most difficult hiking trails in Europe. Follow these six hikers day by day on their epic journey through an impressive mountain scenery.

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​GR20 Important Details

Best Time To Go

Late June and early September. This is when most of the refuges will be open, the weather is not so hot, and the trail is less crowded than in July and August.

Between November and May, there is snow on the mountains and the trail can be a little more difficult.

Difficulty

​The GR20 is known as the toughest long-distance trail in Europe.

The Northern part of the trail is very demanding with many steep ascents and descent, whereas the southern part is not as difficult. 

The fitter you re the more enjoyable the trail will be. Make sure you are both physically and mentally prepared to tackle the GR20 and you should be fine.

Permits

No permits are required to hike the trails of the GR20.

Frequently Asked Questions

​What kind of climate can I expect?

​Do I need to bring any equipment?

​Do I need insurance?

​What language do they speak in Corsica?

​Are there any fees you need to pay to hike the GR20?

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Trek the GR20 with our recommended trek congregator, Get a Quote.

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