Sunday, June 3, 2018

Vitrolles-en-Luberon (Mascas): The eastern ridge of Grand Luberon.

Mourre Negre and the Ridge (Crete) of Grand Luberon.
This is a great walk along the ridge of Grand Luberon with lovely views in both directions. This would be a great walk for winter time also, as long as the wind stays moderate.

Drive up past the village of Vitrolles-en-Luberon and continue the D33 till you reach the highest point on the road (le Crete), called Aire des Mascas, and park here. The walk starts along a wide trail going west and is marked yellow and GR (blue & white). You leave this trail, however, after only some 12-14 minutes’ walk from the car. Turn down left here on the track road leading to the main road that goes all along the mountain ridge eventually. Almost immediately, however, you leave this road as well. Turn left into a smaller track road.

Morning walk in nice "open" woods.
After only 150 meters, you turn left to avoid the steep section just in front of you and you start walking through a very agreeable forest. Walk around the small half circle and walk on to the 768 meter point and later to Plan des Agasses. After 30 minutes walking from the car, you join a GR-trail coming in from the left (you may not notice it) and you stay on this trail until you again reach the main crete road after another 10 minutes.

Etang de la Bonde seen from the Crete.
Here you should pay attention. You do not want to continue on the GR-trail and you do not want the main road. In fact, you want the first left turning onto the track road that takes off in a south westerly direction, going down! Very soon, however, you start rising again and after a short half an hour you reach the 859 meter point (with a water reserve tank) and another section of the main crete road. You want to continue in about the same direction as you came, i.e. you take the main road going down! But only for 150 meters. Here you see a small path taking off to the right (not on maps) and you follow this lovely path through the woods uphill for about 15 minutes till you reach the main crete road.

You follow the crete road west for some 20 minutes and you reach the big junction at the
Mont Ventoux.
939 meter point (also with a water reservoir). Here you turn left onto the GR-trail going uphill  along the ridge of Grand Luberon (westwards). Rather than walking along the GR-trail, it could be nicer just to follow the ridge where you felt like it. Just stick to the general direction of the highest point of the ridge. After another 25 minutes you will be at the small concrete structure marked Pyl on the map, which at 1064 meters is the highest point of this walk.

Mourre Negre and the Crete of Grand Luberon.
After another 25 minutes you will be down on the main crete road again at the 1005 meter point. I will strongly advise you to climb up the last 50 meters to the 1057 meter point because just after this point, you will see several nice places to eat, some more sheltered from the wind than others. In fact, you have the best sheltered places along the ridge just before this walk turns around and starts going back again.

The return walk starts out with about 45 minutes on the main crete road going east, but with great views all the way and plenty of sun shine apart from the period middle of November to the middle of February. Here, at the big junction at the 939 meter point, you take the unmarked trail going straight up the mountain side on your left (going east). It takes you perhaps 5 minutes to walk up the steep 35 meters, but it is well worth it. The GR-trail takes you down into the woods, while the ridge straight ahead is a very nice ending of this ridge walk.

On the way back. Snowy Alpes in the background.
After about 15 minutes from the 939 meter point, the path on the top splits into 2 paths. Take the left fork here and continue another 15 minutes downhill on this path (pretty straight) until you reach the GR-trail and the main crete road at the 840 meter point. Only some 200 meters further down the main road you see a yellow sign post, and here you take left for L’Aire des Mascas (2.1km). The last 2 km could take you a good half hour as you are walking a lot on medium sized uneven stones on this wide old road.

Basic information:

Duration:       5,5h (excluding lunch)
Distance:      16 km.
Ascent:         465 m
Difficulty:      Medium
Start/finish:   Vitrolles-en-Luberon (Parking des Mascas, 700m)
Map:             IGN 3243 OT (Pertuis Lourmarin)

VisoRando Lien.

Pour le fichier GPX, vous pouvez télécharger à partir d'ici (voir ci-dessus) ou mettre à jour via ce lien VisoRando où vous pourrez également voir l'itinéraire sur une bonne carte:

For the GPX-file, you could download from here (see just above) or go to this VisoRando link where you also will see the route on a good map.

If you have problems with this VisoRando link, download the GPX-file from above and import it to VisoRando or other application.

03.06.2021: Anne.  4,5h net with only 3 participants (estimate 5,5 with group). Surprisingly cool all day on the Crete (24-25 degrees). Had to use light jumper during lunch hour due to a very nice cooling wind. An hike for all year except perhaps for the really hot days.

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