Winter holidays in La Toussuire: the most beautiful snowshoe hikes

Fancy a winter vacation in the mountains? So I'll take you to La Toussuire, in Savoie. It's a resort that I know well because I'm lucky enough to have a family chalet there and I go there almost every winter and every summer. Skiing is not really my thing because I don't like board sports, so I make up for it with snowshoe hikes. It is an excellent way to enjoy the mountain while respecting it, in peace in nature, far from the crowds that hurtle down the slopes on the slopes. No need to break the bank with a ski pass: a pair of snowshoes, poles, good winter equipment, and off you go (read my article on equipment for snowshoeing )

With the neighboring resort of Le Corbier, La Toussuire has more than 50km of marked trails for snowshoes and pedestrians. To this, we can add the hikes in the direction of Bottières, a small resort located below La Toussuire, as well as the unmarked route that climbs to the top of the Grand Truc. Enough to do many snowshoe hikes! In a week's vacation, you won't have time to do them all.

At the end of this article, you will find information to organize a stay in La Toussuire and all the necessary equipment for a snowshoe hike .

Three easy hikes: on snowshoes or on foot

Note: these three routes follow groomed trails for pedestrians. You can therefore choose to do them on snowshoes or on foot. The advantage of snowshoes is that you can cut freely through powder, while on foot you have to stay on the trail. For my part, I do them more on foot, except when there is very fresh snow because then it is a real pleasure to frolic in the powder and to make your own trail.

The La Toussuire plateau loop

For a first warm-up, you can start with the loop of the La Toussuire plateau . It is a pedestrian route that allows you to hike on the heights of the resort, with a superb panorama of the Arves needles (see photo of one of the article). The route goes from Lac de l'Eriscal to the Croix de la Lauze, with several entry points from the station (around 1h30 to complete the loop).

The ideal time for this walk is at the end of the day when the slopes close. You can then enjoy the calm in the resort and the beautiful lights at the end of the day. It is the best place to see the sunset. When the needles of Arves turn pink, it's simply magical! It is one of the few hikes that I recommend even if the weather is overcast, even a little threatening. The route is well marked and does not climb in altitude: there is therefore no risk in the event of a weather problem, and the landscapes remain magical even if everything is gray or white.

Hike from La Toussuire to Corbier via the Plan Chaud

The two stations, La Toussuire (1750m) and Le Corbier (1550m), are very close. In winter, they are connected by a groomed trail for pedestrians that crosses the “Hot Plan”, a large, fairly flat area well exposed to the sun, which then winds through a small forest. The journey takes a little over an hour, or two hours round trip. There are free shuttles that connect La Toussuire and Le Corbier, so it's possible to walk on the outward journey and take the bus on the return.

Please note: the paths can be very slippery when the snow is frozen, especially on descents through the forest. With snowshoes, you do not slide, but on foot, it can be quite difficult. Better to take sticks and non-slip crampons to put on the shoes (I hardly ever go out without… it avoids slipping on the ice sheets, which are quite common in winter sports resorts).

Suggestion after the hike: when I go to Le Corbier, I take my swimsuit and my towel in my backpack because the resort has a superb swimming pool. The pool is uncovered, but well heated. There is also a spa area with Jacuzzis, sauna and hammam, a real treat after a good hike in the snow. Info and prices for the Corbier swimming pool .

The crest path of the Croix de Coin Cavour

This hike is done on the mountain ridges which dominate La Toussuire and Le Corbier, using the chairlifts for the ascent and descent (that of the Tête de Bellard in La Toussuire and that of Sybelles Express in Corbier). The departure can be done either from one of the stations.

You have to buy a pedestrian pass to use the chairlifts (around 12 euros) and note the times of the last descents. The hike takes just under two hours (one way). For the return, three possibilities: take the same hike in the other direction, return by the bottom path (via the Hot Plan) described in the previous paragraph or take the free shuttle that connects the two stations.

French fries and mulled wine break at the Les Carlines mountain restaurant

At an altitude of more than 2000m (2225m for the Tête de Bellard and 2265m for the Pointe du Corbier), the landscapes are absolutely sublime. The route is groomed the entire way, so snowshoes are optional. For the lunch break, you can either plan a picnic or stop off at the altitude restaurant Les Carlines, located at Tête de Bellard. I love stopping there for a mulled wine and a tray of fries!

Three medium-level hikes: snowshoes compulsory

The Col d'Arves loop

It is one of the most beautiful snowshoe hikes to do. The departure is from Le Corbier, so depending on your level, you can choose to go by car (or shuttle), or on foot (or snowshoes). The return trip to Le Corbier from La Toussuire adds two hours of walking. It is possible if you are very fit. But if you are of an “average” level (like me), I would rather recommend “saving yourself” these two hours to keep your strength for the Col d'Arves hike (duration: around four hours).

In good weather, with a nice layer of powder, the landscapes are breathtaking. There are a few parts at the beginning where you go along the ski slopes, but otherwise, most of the time you are alone in the middle of nature in the middle of pristine snow. The only problem is that sometimes after heavy snowfall, the markings are not very clear ... If hikers have passed before you on snowshoes, you can follow in their footsteps, but otherwise it can be a bit difficult to find your way there.

The arrival at Col d'Arves (1748m) offers a superb panorama of the Aiguilles d'Arves and the resort of Saint-Jean-d'Arves below. It is a good place for a picnic break, but beware of the wind which can be quite strong here.

The Col d'Arves with Mont Charvin in the background

The descent is more difficult than the climb. The slope is sometimes quite steep and it is then easier to “slide” on the buttocks rather than to remain upright. You should know that you walk long enough through the forest and that you descend lower than Le Corbier, to then go back up to the resort. For the signs, be careful to follow those of blue color, which correspond to winter paths, and not those of yellow color, which correspond to summer paths.

The Tour of the hamlets via Villarembert

This hike also starts from Le Corbier (1550m). It descends to the village of Villarembert (1300m) through the forest (duration: about four hours). To get there from La Toussuire, I recommend taking the shuttle, and doing the loop starting with the picnic area of ​​the eyelet. Beware of disappointments: there is sometimes mention of a certain “lake of the eyelet”: to tell the truth, the summer it is rather a small pond, and the winter under the snow, one does not. sees nothing that might look like a lake.

Almost all of it is a path in the middle of the forest. Beautiful views are rare, but we are surrounded by nature. The markup is a bit blurry in some places. Considering the low elevation, this is a hike to do when there is a fair amount of snow. Otherwise you can quickly find yourself wading through the mud with snowshoes. For the return, the ascent at the end of the route leads directly to the Plan Chaud plateau, so you are already halfway through to return to the starting point on La Toussuire.

The climb to the Big Truc

Snowshoeing to the top of the Grand Truc at dawn

Of all the snowshoe hikes offered in this article, this is the only one that follows an unmarked route. It does not present any particular danger if the weather is good. On the other hand, if the weather is uncertain or overcast, I do not recommend it at all! You can start at the Hôtel du Grand Truc, where the summer path begins which goes up to the Grand Truc, recognizable by following the yellow signs. Otherwise another starting point higher up is the Croix de la Lauze, which can easily be reached by taking the footpaths of La Toussuire. Afterwards, all you have to do is climb towards the Lauze ski lift, then follow the ridge line. This is a route often taken by backcountry skiers, so it's easy to follow in their footsteps in the powder.

Ascent to the Grand Truc following in the footsteps of ski touring

This is a must do hike at sunrise. The ideal is to leave when it is still dark (an hour before sunrise), in the light of headlamps. It is magical to see the sun rise during the ascent. The other advantage of this early hour is that the slopes are deserted: you have the mountain to yourself, except for the few cross-country skiers who make the effort to climb on their own.

The Grand Truc rises to an altitude of 2209m, so the vertical drop is around 450m. The climb is not too steep, but when you get close to the ridges you have to walk a bit askew on the slope. You have to stabilize your steps with the help of sticks. Once at the top, the view of the Belledonne massif on the other side is sublime.

For the descent, it is possible to take the same path or otherwise to follow the red Grand Truc slope (being careful with skiers if the slope is open). The descent is steep and hurts your knees a bit. It takes about four hours for the entire hike.

Two snowshoe hikes in Bottières

Snowshoe hike through the snow-covered Bottières forest (Trois Croix trail)

Les Bottières is a small mid-mountain winter sports resort at 1300m, located ten minutes (barely) by car from La Toussuire. Given its low altitude, the snow cover is less there, but the forests are much more abundant (trees grow poorly at high altitude). When there is heavy snowfall, the trees are adorned with a superb white coat and the Bottières snowshoe trails become a magical place. Note: you need a car to go to Les Bottières, because there are no shuttles. Technically it is possible to go there on snowshoes, but the path is not marked and it is a bit long.

The Three Crosses hike

The Troix Croix are clearly visible when you take the road to go up to La Toussuire. Historically, mountain crosses served as a landmark, both geographic and spiritual, to bear witness to a link between man and God on the peaks which are closer to the sky. These three crosses were erected to protect the inhabitants from plague epidemics in the Middle Ages.

From Bottières, there are several snowshoe hiking trails. The most beautiful is the one that leads to the Three Crosses. The climb through the forest can be a bit steep at times, but the scenery is fabulous. On the way back, you have to follow the road a bit. It's a shame, but there is no other access. The loop takes about three hours.

The discovery trail

For the first steps in snowshoes, it is an ideal and easy loop to do, with little difference in height. The trip lasts about two hours and walks through the thick forests of Bottières. To do only if the snow level is sufficient.

Snowshoe hikes: practical information

The joys of powder snow with snowshoes on the La Toussuire plateau

You can download the snowshoe hiking map for La Toussuire and Le Corbier on this link , or buy it for € 1 at the tourist office. All the snowshoe hikes from Bottières can be seen on this page (also available at the Bottières tourist office). The only one that does not appear on these maps is the ascent of the Grand Truc because it is an unmarked path in winter.

Before leaving: always check the weather forecast and avalanche risks . In the event of bad weather or an unstable snow plateau, the answer is simple: we don't go. The only exception is the La Toussuire plateau loop: if the slopes are open, you can go there, there is no danger.

If you do not have your equipment, it is easy to rent rackets and poles in the sports shops of the different resorts. The budget is generally around 10 euros per day.

If you have never done one and prefer to go with a guide, the ESF organizes guided snowshoe hikes almost every day: ESF walking program .

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