Saturday, June 8, 2013

Les Calanques: Mont Puget, Col de la Candelle and Calanque de Sugiton

Calanque de Sugiton
 This is a type of high trail in the Calanques. You start at Col de la Gineste (326 meters) and you will find yourself on the top of Mont Puget (563 meters) in less than 1,5 hours. The return trail passes Col de la Candelle and high above Calanque de Sugiton, and never falls much below 300 meters above sea level (the normal Calanque walks stay between sea level and 250 meters). Fantastic views of Marseille City, Luminy and all around the calanques, and the sea is everywhere. But like many walks in the Calanques, it’s not for people that has trouble with vertigo.

The area is normally closed to the public from 1st July till 15th September (except for morning walks till 11 am) because of the risk of forest fires. But call 0811 201313 for exact information.

Park the car at the car park at Col de la Gineste on the D559 road going from Cassis to Marseille (just before the road starts descending down all the bends to Luminy).

Climbing up towards Mont Puget
Start walking straight south on trail 6, then branch off to the right onto trail 6a (Chemin du Centaure). Make sure you know precisely where you are on the map as you walk along this road (count the bends in the road) because you want a small trail to the left after about 45 minutes walk from the car. There is no markers, only the trail, but the trail should start gently (in the beginning) upwards to the left almost parallel to the road, and further up you see that the mountain side has a “crack” in it, enabling a fairly strait forward climb up to the top (you will need to use your hands a few times).

The climb up takes less than 30 minutes and as soon as you can see the open landscape of the ridge that goes up to Mont Puget, I suggest you take off the trail to the right and simply follow the ridge to the large cairn at the top (only another 10 minutes). (The trail, as you can see from the map, takes a long detour.)

From the top you follow trail 6b down to trail 6 (green) and follow this towards the sea. Just before Col de la Candelle, the GR51 and GR98 come on to our trail from east. At Col de la Candelle (40 minutes down from Mont Puget) you are right behind the big mountain wall of la grande Candelle, which you will see later along the trail. I see now that the map has marked a square here (type of monument), a bit up in the mountain side, but I did not notice till I got back. But I did notice a few people up there when we passed the Col. Take a look!

Calanque de Morgiou and Ile de Riou
Continue along trail 6 westwards (and GR’s). You are high up with fantastic views so take your time. When you are about straight above le Torpilleur in Calanque de Sugiton, the trail turns sharply downwards, and it descends fairly steeply about 60 meters. When the trail levels off again, you will very soon see a large cairn and a sign for a different walk down to the left (back eastwards). But at the same cairn, you see a large unmarked trail taking off to the right, upwards in northern direction. Leave the marked trail here and take this trail upwards (wide enough for a four wheel drive), and you will soon join the 6a trail you were on this morning. The return to the car from the cairn should be about 1 hour.

Basic information:

Duration:        5h (including 1h for lunch)
Distance:       12 km.
Ascent:           500 m (accumulated)
Difficulty:        Moderate plus
Start/finish:    Luminy (Parking at Col de la Gineste)
Map:               IGN Les Calanques de Marseille á Cassis

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