Monday, May 28, 2012

Massif des Cedres and la Tete de la Baraque

In this walk you will “attack” the Petite Luberon and the Cedre forest from the south and you will enjoy a very variable landscape, but mostly very open, so the walk is well worth doing at winter times too. The return route is along perhaps the longest north-south ridge in the whole of Luberon with magnificent views.

Drive up from Lauris and follow signs for the restaurant and Gite d’etape “le Meou”. Pass this and drive on; turn left at the top, but turn right for the Combe du Sautadou at the 244 meter point. Drive on for about 600 meters on this track road and park in the left bend by the old road barrier.

Continue the track road and you will meet the GR97 (take left) only 500 meters up the road. Continue for about 1.5 km and take the GR97 trail off this road (only about 700 meters after a water reserve) and head steep uphill to the ridge at 448 meter point (10 minutes). Take a good look at the mountain straight north here and you see the small path (but a good path) you will be returning on later this afternoon. But now continue westwards on the GR97 down to the Vallon du Gros Ubac (10 minutes). Here you meet a new forest road(1h from the start) going up the valley and you continue the the GR97 along this road until it forks out at the next water reserve. You will join the road again further up, but at the next water reserve at 570 meters (l’Aire de Bosse – 1h 45min) you will leave the GR97 and turn right, strait north towards “les Portalas”.

When you meet the “Sentier de decouverte” you go straight on (do not take right for “Foret du Cedre”) and follow this yellow trail up to the 698 meter point with fantastic views to the south (2h 10min). Too see “la Tete de la Baraque” you leave the yellow trail here (the yellow trail turns straight north here, but you take a 15 minutes detour on the very small trail straight on along the ridge westwards). After only a few minutes you can see a large hole in the rock face coming out from the ridge you are walking along. To find a nice place for lunch, you can go a bit further if you like, but you need to return to the point of view near the 698 meter point to continue the walk afterwards.

Continue the yellow trail where you left it (the view point) and head straight north up to the main road that passes east-west along the ridge of petite Luberon. You are now in the famous Ceder Forest, and when you meet the main road, turn right (east)  and continue to the barrier (2h 35min). Here the main car park ends and you walk along the road about 500 meters (about 5 minutes) from the barrier till you see a good fire road takes off to the right (with a barrier only some 50 meters in from the main road).

This forest road goes along the longest north-south ridge in the Luberon and takes you first down to the 687 meter point (take left fork), and soon take right at the next fork (not marked on the map and if you pass an old road marker labelled “19”, you have taken the wrong turning: Go back a few hundred meters and turn left). Now just follow this good forest road strait on to the 612 meter point and then to the 580 meter point. Here you continue the road on its last 500 meters until it stops on a large flat space with a large cairn in the far right hand corner (3h 30min).

Just behind the cairn, a small but well marked path (small cairns) starts off down the steep little mountain side and after less than 30 minutes, you will be at the intersection with the GR97 at the 448 meter point you were this morning (4h). Great views going down, but watch you steps.

For the real ridge enthusiasts, you can follow the ridge straight south along the small path, which finally ends up on the track road about where the car is parked (see map: this route also requires good knowledge of map reading in order to follow the right path). For the rest of you, follow the same route back down to the car as you came up this morning (only about 35 minutes, while the ridge walk will take almost 1 hour).

Basic information:

Duration:        6h (with 1.5 hours stops)
Distance:       16 km.
Ascent:           600 m
Difficulty:        Moderate
Start/finish:    Lauris/Combe du Sautadou
Map:               IGN 3142 OT (1cm=250 m)

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