Best Hikes in the Claree Valley (from Briançon, Hautes Alpes)

Nestling in the heart of the Clarée Valley, the charming hotel the Chalet d'en Hô*** with its wellness area is the den of nature and mountain trek lovers.
That quiet valley of the Southern Alps is both secluded from the bustle of big cities and easily accessible for trekking starting from Briançon or Italy. Classified as a Natura 2000 Site and dotted with more than 30 lakes, it is not easy to choose between its 250 km of marked trails !
For that reason, we have selected a few round-trip hikes (one-day hikes) across the valley, starting from Névache (from the Chalet d'en Hô), or from the hamlets of the Upper Clarée Valley : Fontcouverte, Laval, or else from the Vallée Étroite. All the trails are well marked, and several of them belong to the GR57.
Among the most popular hikes, we can cite the famous Lake Laramon and Lake du Serpent, but also the Chardonnet pass, the Lake Long, the Lake Rond, and the Lake of Muandes,  the Lake of Béraudes, the Tour of the Cerces, and the Tour of Mount Thabor.

Order the Map IGN 3535OT, the much needed map for your treks in the Clarée Valley !

Hikes from the Chalet d'en Hô

Lake Chavillon at the Thures Pass - Névache, Claree Valley
Lake Chavillon at the Thures Pass
Balconies of Névache - Claree Valley
Balconies of Névache

Go for a short walk or a long hike straight from the Chalet d'en Hô, located in the hamlet of the Roubion, municipality of Névache:

Hike Thures Pass & Lake Chavillon (2194 m)

Difficulty : level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 600 meters
Walking time : a 4-and-a-half-hour to 5-hour walk as a total

Starting from the hotel, follow the GR57 just after the school, 300 m from the hotel. The trail starts across fields as far as the Forest Chalet, then it takes little turns in the forest. Finally, the scenery opens onto the plateau of the Thures. At the end of the plateau, you will discover the lake Chavillon and the Thures Pass from which you will be able to admire the Mount Thabor and the Rois Mages summits.
Possible alternative : ascent of the Aiguille Rouge (2545 m) summit with 360° views over all the Alps. + 1h30 and + 500 m difference in height.

Hike The Balconies of Névache

Difficulty: level 1* out of 5*
Difference in height : 200 meters
Walking time : a 2-and-a half-hour walk

The starting point is the same as that for the plateau of the Thures, but you have to turn left just before the forest chalet. The trail goes up into the forest, and you will reach a very beautiful balcony trail with an exceptional view over the hamlets of Névache. At the end of it, you will join the trail that goes down to the Creux des Souches, and reach the hamlet of Ville Haute. You will return to the hotel following the banks of the Clarée river.

Hike Lake Oule (2425 m)

Difficulty: level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 800 meters
Walking time : a 5-hour return walk

The starting point is at the Fortville bridge (GR57), 15 minutes from the hotel. The ascent starts in the larch forest. At the junction with the forest road, follow the GR57 on the right. At the next junction, do not follow the trail on the right which leads to lake Cristol, but turn left towards the lake Oule. It goes up as far as the entrance of the Oule glen and continues as far as the lake.

Hikes starting from Névache Ville-Haute

Along the Claree river - Névache
Along the Claree river
Lake of Cristol - Névache - Claree Valley
Lake of Cristol

Ville-Haute is a hamlet located 2 km from the Chalet d'en Hô. You can walk there (30 mn), drive there or take the Shuttle bus (in the summer from mid-July to the end of August). For a gourmet break, we advise you to stop at the Vialaou, at the Creux des Souches or else at the Clot Inn (Auberge du Clot in French). Find below a few very nice ideas for hikes. They all start from Névache Tourist Office:

Hike along the Claree river from Ville Haute to Fontcouverte

Difficulty : level 1* out of 5*
Difference in height : 200 meters
Walking time : a 2-hour ascent

Nice bucolic hike along the Clarée river to discover the flowers and the heritage of the hamlets of the Upper Valley.
At Ville Haute, turn left after the church, cross the bridge over the Clarée river, then follow the path that borders it. First you will discover the waterfalls of Névache, and just before the arrival, the beautiful waterfall of Fontcouverte.

Hike Lake Cristol (2245 m)

Difficulty : level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 650 meters
Walking time : a 4-hour return walk

From Ville Haute, take the same direction as for the hike along the Clarée river, but about 10 min after passing the village limit, take the trail that goes up on the left towards lake Cristol. After several steep turns in the forest, in 1 and a half hours you will reach the small bridge that crosses the stream of Cristol ; cross that bridge, then continue for 30 minutes in the very beautiful glen of Cristol as far as the lake.

Hike Buffère through Côte Rouge

Difficulty: level 2* sur 5*
Difference in height : 500 meters
Walking time : a 2-and-a-half hour ascent

The starting point is the same as for the 2 above-mentioned hikes but just before reaching the small bridge over the Cristol stream, take the trail on the right towards Buffère. You will then walk along the very nice balcony trail of Côte Rouge for about 1 hour and at the end which ascends gently before reaching the Buffère Mountain Hut. This trail is named after the colour red of blossoming rhododendrons in June as well as the flowers of blueberry bushes that turn red at the end of the summer.

Hikes starting from the Rately Bridge

Glen of Buffère - Névache - Claree Valley
Glen of Buffère
Grand Aréa - Névache - Claree Valley
Sunrise at the Grand Aréa

The Rately bridge is located 5 km from the hotel, a little further away from Ville-Haute. You can drive there or take the Shuttle bus (in the summer from mid-July to the end of August). Here are more ideas for hikes:

Hike Buffère Glen

Difficulty : level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 500 meters for the Mountain Hut or 827 meters for the Pass (2427 m)
Walking time : a 4 to 5-hour return walk

Starting from the Rately Bridge (indicated on the road), walk up the trail in the forest towards the Buffère Mountain Hut ; be careful, there’s an average 30-minute very steep trail, you can manage it! and take your time. You will reach the Mountain Hut after an average 1-hour-and-15 min walk. You can have a nice break there to get something to eat or drink. Then follow the GR 5C that gradually goes up towards the Buffère Pass (2427 m) in a very beautiful and bucolic glen. You can also return through Côte Rouge after the Mountain Hut.

Hike Grand Aréa (2869 m)

Difficulty: level 3* out of 5*
Difference in height : 1 300 meters
Walking time : a 6 to 7-hour walk

Follow the ascending route that passes through the mountain hut and the Buffère Pass. From there, continue to ascend following a gradual trail which goes to the top of the Grand Aréa. There you will be a little below the threshold of “3000” but the identity of the summit and the awesome view over the Ecrins are worth it.

Hikes starting from Fontcouverte

Fontcouverte Fall - Névache- Claree Valley
Fontcouverte Fall
Lake Laramon - Névache- Claree Valley
Lake Laramon

7 km away from the Chalet d'en Hô, after you have crossed Ville-Haute and the Rately bridge, you will reach Fontcouverte. You can either drive there (big parking lot) or take the shuttle bus (in the summer from mid-July to the end of August). To get something to drink or to eat, we advise you the Fruitière Inn. The "star" hikes of the valley start here:

Hike Fontcouverte Waterfall

Difficulty: level 1* out of 5*
Difference in height : 30 meters
Walking time : 10 min

Follow the trail that goes down along the Clarée river just under La Fruitière. You will soon reach the Fontcouverte waterfall which is very impressive especially at the beginning of the summer when the snow melts.

Hike "The Lakes" : Laramon (2350 m), Serpent (2448 m), Gardioles (2688 m), Peak of Lake Blanc (2980 m)

Difficulty: level 2 to 3* out of 5*
Difference in height : 600 to 1100 meters
Walking time : a 2-hour ascent for the lake du Serpent, a 3-hour-and-a-half to a 4-hour ascent for the Peak

That’s "the best" hike in the Clarée Valley with its famous lakes! It’s a hike of varying degrees of difficulty, easy for the lake Laramon, quite easy for the lake du Serpent, more difficult for Les Gardioles, and difficult for the Peak of lake Blanc with, in particular, a crest to follow before you reach the peak.
At Fontcouverte, follow the trail that goes up on the right just before the bridge over the Clarée river towards the Ricou Mountain Hut. After about 45 min, you will walk past the mountain hut and proceed along the winding trail in the mountain pastures for about another 45 min as far as the first lake which is gorgeous. About another 30 min later you will reach the lake du Serpent from which you will be able to enjoy an awesome view over the Ecrins. Continue for about another hour for the lakes of Gardioles, and the most adventurous will climb for another hour to reach the crest of Gardioles which they will follow as far as the Peak of lake Blanc. There’s a 360 ° outstanding view over all the Alps. To enjoy this hike at its best, choose a time when the weather is fine (that is to say most of the time !).

Hike Chardonnet Glen

Difficulty : level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 350 meters for the Mountain Hut or 800 meters for the Pass (2638 m)
Walking time : a one-hour ascent for the Mountain Hut, a 3-hour ascent for the Pass

Always starting from Fontcouverte, you will this time take the trail that goes towards the North side of the valley and that starts at the Fontcouverte camping site (a sign indicates the Chardonnet Mountain Hut). A gradual ascent will lead you to the Mountain Hut in about 1 hour in a postcard-like scenery... To reach the Pass, continue on that gorgeous Chardonnet glen following the signs "Chardonnet Pass". The ascent is gentle but long. Once at the Pass, you will enjoy a breathtaking view over the Meige and the Ecrins! On your way down, walk past the pretty lake of the Mine which is on the left-hand side of the trail just under the Pass. Leave the trail to explore it.

Hikes from Laval

Lake of Béraudes - Névache - Claree Valley
Lake of Béraudes
Lake Long - Névache - Claree Valley
Lake Long

The Laval hamlet is located at the end of the road of the Clarée Upper Valley, 14 km away from the hotel. You can drive to reach the starting point of these beautiful hikes (the parking lot is small so be careful, it might fill up quickly during the high season) or with the shuttle bus in the summer (from mid-July to the end of August).

Hike Lake (2504 m) and Pass of Béraudes (2770 m)

Difficulty: level 2 to 3* out of 5*
Difference in height: 500 meters for the lake or 770 meters for the Pass
Walking time : from a 1-and-a-half-hour to a 2-hour ascent for the lake, a 3-hour ascent for the Pass.

At the Laval parking lot, walk on the first part of the GR 57 and turn immediately left towards the lake of Béraudes, cross the Moutet Bridge then follow the steep trail that winds as far as the lake. The slope is quite steep and you quickly gain altitude. The arrival there is magical because you can be rewarded with the view of a lake the waters of which are turquoise in the middle of a natural round basin of steep slopes and sharp peaks.
To reach the Pass, follow the trail that turns on the left of the lake and climbs up the mountain side; the last turns are steep and typically alpine. From the Pass, the view over the Massif des Ecrins is extraordinary...

Hike Lake Long (2387 m), lake Rond (2446 m), lake of Muandes (2580 m)

Difficulty: level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : from 400 to 600 meters
Walking time : a 1-and-15-minutes ascent for lake Long, a 2-and-a-half-hour ascent to the lake Muandes

At the Laval parking lot, take the GR 57 towards the Drayères Mountain hut. After about 10 min, take the small trail which goes up to the right towards the 3 lakes. The ascent through the middle of mountain meadows is lovely and reaches the very beautiful lake Long. Continue on that trail towards lake Rond through a scree. Make sure you follow the cairns for the proper direction. You will reach the lake from above. To go to the lake of Muandes, return to the GR 57 and finish the ascent following a lovely trail in the mountain meadows.
To come down, you can either take the same trail or follow the GR as far as the Drayères Mountain Hut, then return to the parking lot via the wonderful trail along the Clarée river. For that purpose, you will have to cross the bridge over the Clarée just below the military building.

Hike Lake and Springs of the Claree River (2433 m)

Difficulty : level 2* out of 5*
Difference in height : 450 meters
Walking time : a 2-hour ascent

From Laval parking lot, either take the GR 57, or the lovely trail along the Clarée crossing the Moutet Bridge. You will walk past the Drayères Mountain Hut (2167m) and continue straight ahead for about another hour to reach the Clarée lake where the river bearing the same name has its source. You may continue to walk on the GR for another 10 min to see the lake Rond of Rochilles, another 10 min for the lake du Grand Ban and another 20 min to reach the Rochilles Pass which marks the border with the Savoie region.

Hike Tour of the Cerces

Difficulty: level 3* out of 5*
Difference in height : 900 meters
Walking time : 7 to 8 hours

This is the most beautiful tour in the Clarée Valley, with 7 lakes to discover ! The beginning of the tour is the same as that for the lake and pass of Béraudes. Once you have reached the Pass, you will have done the whole ascent. You will then go down on the other side of the mountain following, at the beginning, a very steep trail (you will have to cross a chimney passage with cables along a few meters), then you will get back to the GR 57 which turns right towards the lake and the pass of the Ponsonnière from where there is a gorgeous view over the Grand Lac. The balcony trail over the Ecrins is great. After this pass, you will follow the trail as far as lake Cerces, then a last 150-m-long ascent will enable you to reach the Cerces Pass. That is a scenic spot with a gorgeous view over the lake of Grand Ban and the lake Rond of Rochilles. At the bottom of the Cerces pass, turn right towards the Clarée lake and finally come down towards the Drayères mountain hut and the Laval parking lot.

Hike Mount Thabor (3178 m) through Laval

Difficulty: level 3 to 4* out of 5*
Difference in height : 1200 meters
Walking time : a 8-hour return walk

This is the highest summit in the Clarée valley ! Ascend following the GR 57 in the Muandes glen with its lakes as above-mentioned as far as the Muandes Pass (2828m). Then follow the crest that starts on the left; you will walk past the foot of the Roche du Chardonnet (2950 m), and then the Valmeinier Pass. You will then cross a deep valley and a big scree before taking on the last steep ascent that leads to the distinctive round-topped summit of Mount Thabor just after walking past the Thabor chapel. That’s a must !

Hikes from the Vallée Etroite

Lac Vert - Névache - Claree Valley
Lac Vert
Mount Thabor - Névache - Claree Valley
Mount Thabor (snow-capped) from the Granges of the Vallée Etroite

Search on Google Maps "Les Granges de la Vallée Étroite" (barns of the Vallée Etroite) to go to the departure of these hikes (13 km away from the chalet, a 30-min drive). From the chalet, do not follow the direction of the Upper Clarée Valley (as for all the above-mentioned hikes), but follow the direction of the Echelle Pass towards Italy. At the foot of the pass and before crossing the border, take the small opposite road which borders the “stream of the Vallée Etroite"; it ends at the Granges. Even if everything is written in Italian and if people speak Italian there, the Vallée Etroite has been a French territory since the end of the Second World War.

Hike Lake Vert (1834 m)

Difficulty: level 1* out of 5*
Difference in height : 80 meters
Walking time : a 1-hour-and-a-half return walk

From the Granges de la Vallée Etroite, take the small path that crosses the hamlet and goes up in the fields as far as the GR 5. Then turn right towards "Lago Verde", cross the bridge over the stream and ascend the mound which is opposite following a small trail in the forest. Once on top of it, you will see across the pine trees a jewel in its casket : that’s the green lake. Its fluorescent green colour is due to the presence of algae in its waters. You will have to go down a little further to reach the shore of this magical lake...
In the hamlet of the Granges, there are 2 very nice Italian mountain huts where you can eat polenta or get something to drink : I Re magi and I Terzo Alpini.

Hike The Mount Thabor (3178 m) through the Vallée Étroite

Difficulty: level 3* out of 5*
Difference in height : 1400 meters
Walking time : a 8-hour return walk

In the Vallée Etroite, the route that leads to Mount Thabor is easier than through Laval, and you can see your destination right from the departure and all along the hike.
Starting from the Granges de la Vallée Etroite, follow the GR 5 as far as the Chamois House. There, leave the GR to take the trail which goes up to the Méandes Pass (2727 m) along the stream. You will then get back to the GR 57, follow it to the left towards the Mount Thabor Chapel.

Want to hike in the Claree Valley?

Book your stay in our chalet-hotel

Map of the hikes around Névache

Click on this map of the Clarée Valley to enlarge it and click on the icons to see the photos and to get more information.

Discover the nearby valleys: continue your reading here.

 

To get some more information about the Claree Valley

The Chalet d'en Hô is located in the heart of the Clarée Valley, in the Roubion hamlet, on Névache municipality (1600 m high).

Named after the transparent river that flows through it, this valley, which is a classified Natural Site, is located in the North of the department of the Hautes-Alpes, near Briançon and Italy. It is dotted with small distinctive villages : the Vachette, the Rosier, Val-des-Prés, Plampinet, and finally Névache (1600 m high), last village in the valley, 18 km from Briançon.
Beyond that, the road continues for another 12 km across the outstanding Upper Clarée Valley, and ends in the middle of the mountains, 2000 m above sea level. Then the GR57 replaces it as far as the Clarée springs and the Seuil des Rochilles, which is a natural border with the Savoie region. The road of the Upper Valley is dotted with small mountain hamlets : Lacou, Basse-Gardiole, Basse-Sausse, la Meuille, Fontcouverte, Le Jadis, Roche Noire... and Laval.

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Hameau des Chazals - 05100 Névache - FRANCE - Tél. : +33 (0)4 92 20 12 29
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