The Calanche coastline is the southern limitation of the beautiful Golfe de Porto, one of the most enticing places of the Corse island.
There are several short hikes which go to the best vista points and the most interesting rock formations. The trails are well maintained and not very difficult.
Calanche de Piana is part of the United Nations World Heritage program and is a must while visiting the west coast of Corse.
Those hikes can be easily combined with other hikes or activities in the nearby surroundings:
- Nice beaches are at Marina di Porto and at Plage d´Arone, accessible from Piana by road D 824
- Other nearby short hikes are Capu Rossu near Piana, Gorges de Spelonca near Ota / Porto. Longer hikes which start at the Calanche region are leading to the summit of Capu d´Orto or Capu di u Vitullu.
On the Capu d´Orto and Capu di u Vitullu site Gangolf Haub has mentioned the Calanches but I think they are so beautiful that they deserve their own page on SummitPost. Nevertheless check the excellent Capu di u Vitullu page or the Capu d´Orto page of Gangolf Haub for further informations and images about the Calanches.
The Calanches hikes can be done the whole year round, due to the Mediterranean climate and the modest height. In summer best time are the morning or the evening hours when there is not so much heat.
You can combine some of the Calanche trails with an ascend on Capu d´Orto or Capu di u Vitullu.
A combination of Capu Rossu in the morning, Calanches in the evening and the beach during noon and afternoon time will make a perfect summer day in Corse.
To reach the trailheads you simply have to follow the road D 81 from Porto or Cargèse / Ajaccio.
From the Corte - Ponte Leccia valley, the central valley of the island use road D 84 to Porto and continue on D 81. As all roads on Corsica are winding endlessly it will last quite a time to get there from far away. Better choose a central place to stay on the westcoast for several undertakings; there are so many hikes and beaches to explore.
There are small parking areas at each side of the Calanche region alongside D 81. Traversing the Calanche rocks on D 81 you will reach some small turnouts cut in the rock which give place for one or two cars to park.
The best place for parking is the Porto side of the Calanches. At the first switchback there are parking areas before and at the switchback on both sides of the road (Tete du Chien). These are the trailheads for Chateau Fort and Roches Bleues.
You can reach the trailheads by bicycle, too. Best is by car. I don´t know if there is a public bus service and how reliable it is.
1. Chateau Fort
- less than 1 hour -
This one starts at the road D 81 switchback at the rock formation Tete du Chien, Dogs Head. After a good look at this bizarre rock follow the trail into the woods. After a while you reach some rock formations, the trail starts to descend through macchia, light woods and requires some easy rock scrambling. You have some good looks on the famous Tafoni erosion which gave the granite this bizarre look.
Then the trail starts to ascend steeply. You quickly gain height, scrambling over tree roots and rocks. The trail reaches a plateau in front of the rock formation Chateau Fort. The plateau offers breathtaking views on the Golfe de Porto, the Calanche and to the village of Piana.
Take the same trail back to the road.
2. La Chataigneraie
- about 2 hours -
This trail (blue and red markings) starts where trail number 3 ends: at the Chalet Les Roches Bleues. It zigzags steeply up through pine woods with nice views onto the Calanche spires. After a while the trail gets less steep and reaches a trail junction. Turn left (on the right hand you can descend to the trail number 4 and to Piana) and at the next trail junction go straight on (the right trail will ascend Capu d´Orto). Turn left again at the third trail junction and start decending down to the road D 81. Follow the road up to the Tete du Chien parking area. To reach the Chalet Les Roches Bleues you can use trail number 3.
3. Les Roches Bleues / Corniche
- about 30 minutes -
From Tete de Chien follow D 81 some 300 m up in the direction to Piana. A trail with blue markings start to your left. It leads steeply through the woods up to a notch with a marvellous view over the Calanche area. Descend on the other side of the notch to the road. You will reach it at the Chalet “Les Roches Bleues”.
The trails 2 and 3 can be combined to a nice round trip.
4. Chemin des Muletiers
- about 30 minutes -
About 300 m from Chalet Les Roches Bleues in the direction to Piana a trail starts on the left side of the road. There is a little chapel built in the rocks. The trail ascends steeply and arrives at a rocky notch. There the trail traverses with some ups and downs the west slopes of Calanche. The trail offers awesome views on rock formations, to Piana and over the Golfe de Porto. It reaches a valley coming down from between Le Lion and Palani, some secondary summits in the ridge up to Capu d´Orto. Leave the trail at an unmarked trail junction to the right. Follow the small trail through the dense macchia and woods down to the road. Follow the road back to the starting point of Chemin de Muletiers.
Accomodations; Red Tape
there are all kinds of accomodations like hotels, appartments, holyday houses, campgrounds and gites d´etape for hikers.
Apartments and houses can be rented e.g. by Gites de France.
Camping is possible only on public campgrounds. Don´t try camping elsewhere !
Calanche de Piana is an United Nations World Heritage place.
There are no fees. Camping is forbidden outside public campgrounds.
If you know any more limitations which are connected with this area please let me know.
Maps and Guides
A good guide for beginning hikers on Corse is
>Korsika; Die schönsten Küsten- und Bergwanderungen
Available in German, English and French.
The topographic map serial of the Institut Geographique National (IGN) is very useful for your hiking activities on Corse. They have the 1 : 25.000 scale and are very detailed. Unfortunately you need about 20 maps to cover the whole island.
For the Calanche hikes you need
IGN topographic map, 1 : 25.000, number 4150 OT, Porto - Calanche de Piana