Lacs de Terre Rouge

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The view of one of the Lacs de Terre Rouge

One of my favourite hikes ever is quite a way from the Rockies. In fact it’s in France. It’s a little different to the Rockies.

The hike starts at the Isola 2000 ski area and you follow a trail which winds away from the centre of the resort. The trail climbs up past ski slopes and through incredibly beautiful larch forest. You eventually leave the larch forest roughly at the top of the ski run called ‘Boulevard’ and the trail continues up past an old military barracks and through several switchbacks to reach Col Merciere at 2342 metres.

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The view into the Mercantour National Park

Passing through Col Merciere is an excellent view – it is just inside the Mercantour National Park, and there is a large rock outcrop which makes a brilliant place to have lunch.

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The perfect lunchtime view

After enjoying the Mercantour National Park for a little while, head back through the Col Merciere. Then you’ll need to go back down a couple of switchbacks to the trail for the Lacs de Terre Rouge which is signposted with a wooden marker.

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View from along the trail heading towards the lakes

Picture16From here on you follow along this trail which winds across the landscape, passing around some beautiful granite scenery. Eventually you will reach a fork in the path. To get to the lakes followed the trail heading straight on. Here there’s a bit more of a climb and a few switchbacks, but soon enough you’ll reach the outflow from the first lake.

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The view over the lakes from the Pas du Loup

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One of the higher lakes below the Pas du Loup

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Lots of red rocks hence the name ‘Lacs de Terre Rouge’

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Back at the lakeshore

The lakes are great place to stop. If the weather is good you can head up to one of the higher passes – the Pas du Loup or the Baisse de Druos. You’ll get some great views of all of the lakes from either of these, even if you don’t get all the way to the passes.

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Heading back down to the lower lake

Returning back, you follow the trail down past the outflow of the first lake and back down to the fork in the trail. Here you take the lower fork, which is signposted as ‘Retour Station’ to go back to the centre of the Isola 2000 ski area.

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The trail past the lakes

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Slowly loosing elevation as we get closer to Isola 2000

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We saw lots of chamois (mountain goats) here on the way back – they were too quick for me to take photos!

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A nice quiet hike, there were only a few other people on the trail

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Lots of larches

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The source of this stream is the lakes above

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This is also a great spot for a picnic – when I was little my family used to stop here on the way up to the lakes. It’s not really very far from the start of the hike, but it seemed a long way then!

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Almost back at the starting point

The trail winds down through switchbacks and some quite steep sections. There’s also a stream to cross over, but there are some stepping stones. Carrying on down the trail you travel through a marshy area at the top of the Belvedere ski lift. From here it’s not far back and you follow the trail down past an alpine meadow and eventually join onto a paved road at the back of an old hotel which is now being converted into appartments.

You can then walk down the road to the main buildings of the ski area’s village, where the hike started.

I just realised, this is probably the most photos that I’ve put in a post so far. To start with I had put 64 in…I didn’t realise I’d taken so many! I hope I’ve picked some good ones for you!

© RockiesOutdoors 2015.

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19 responses to “Lacs de Terre Rouge

  1. Looks like a gorgeous hike! I just love the hiking and backpacking over here in Alps—have you done any hiking in Switzerland? I couldn’t pick a favorite, I have so many! One of the things I really like is that you can do one-way hikes by taking the public transit, so you never have to retrace your steps and can see so much terrain that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It looks really amazing there. I was at the Mercantour National Park last fall but didn’t make it to Isola! Maybe next time 🙂 Did you encountered any wildlife?

    Liked by 1 person

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