This hike leads onto the highest summit of the Castagniccia – region of Corse, the Monte San Petrone. Castagniccia means the region of the chestnut trees and you easily understand this when you drive through this wild and mostly remote country. There are endless chestnut woods which provide the island with tons and tons of edible sweet chestnuts.
Castagniccia is mainly hilly and located on the northeastern part of the island. It is limited by the east coast, the Golo valley in the north with road N 193 from Casamozza to Ponte Leccia, the central valley of Corse between Ponte Leccia and Corte in the west (road N 193) and the Tavignano valley with road N 200 from Corte to Aleria in the south.
There are, generally speaking, three main mountain ridges of the Castaniccia, running in southern – northern direction. I name them as follows:
- the Mont Piano Maggiore ridge in the west between the central valley and the valley of Morosaglia to Carticasi;
- the Monte San Pedrone ridge as main ridge of the Castaniccia
- the eastern ridge of Castaniccia with Monte Negrine and Monte Castello d´Osani
Each ridge has innumerable subridges and all this together forms a rugged relief with thousands of little valleys, ridges and secondary summits. The departmental roads are winding endlessly through this landscape with the little hidden villages.
Monte San Petrone is the highest rocky point of a long ridge, starting at Col de Prato, which is the trailhead for this hike, too. On the Westside is the village of Morosaglia (Merusaglia), one of the centers of the Corse resistance against the French. On the east side are many typical Castaniccia villages like La Porta with an impressive baroque campanile, Campana or Piedicroce.
The best trailhead is at Col de Prato (985 m), a mountain pass between Morosaglia and the center of Castaniccia.
Maybe you think I´m uninspired but I think without a car you will be lost on this island if you intend to do several one day hikes like this one.
There are several railroad routes on Corse and there is a rail station at Ponte Leccia (link to the schedule).
Public busse are operating from and to Ponte Leccia (see schedules here). But I think there is no service up to Col de Prato.
I think the best way to operate on Corse is - if you don´t do the GR 20 trail or the other hikes of several days duration - to do it by car.
Take the road D 71 from Ponte Leccia to Morosaglia and on to Col de Prato. Ponte Leccia is a road junction in the central valley of Corse. You reach the little town from Bastia and the eastcoast via N 193, from Corte likewise via N 93, from the north coast (Calvi, Saint Florent) via N 197.
At Col de Prato are some buildings. There is a parking area on the left (north) side of the road just before passing those buildings.
Red Tape, Mountain Conditions
2007: No fees and no limitations as far as I know. Camping is forbidden outside public campgrounds.
Monte San Petrone is a spring, summer and autumn hike. In winter there might be snow on the Castagniccia mountains.
As the trail mainly is going through woods it is a good summer hike because you have enough shadow. And it is a good hike to start with in Corse as it is not long and the altitude difference is quite moderate.
Normal hiking gear with good hiking boots is sufficient.
Route and Trail
The trail starts at the buildings on Col de Prato on the right / south side of the road; there is a forest road ascending moderately in the woods. Follow this road through macchia wood, then pine wood, then through a beautiful beech wood. Simply go straight on and ignore the other roads and paths. You pass by some pig hurdlings (you might as well have an encounter with some wild pigs roaming through the forests but don´t care, they are not too aggressive and in the evening you eventually will meet them again – on your plate !! ) and arrive at a blue car wreck with the writing “San Pedrone”. You will then know: you are on the right track.
Shortly after the wreck the road reaches a sort of hilltop in the woods. A trail with red markings leaves the road to the left (label with “San Petroni”). Follow this trail through beech and pine woods gently up the west slopes of Monte San Petrone. You reach the Funtana di e Teghie, a source with a metal pipe (I don´t know if that is good water). After another gentle ascent the trail reaches the south ridge of Monte San Petrone, it is a huge and nice clearing in the dense woods with a fine meadow and the first view over the hills and mountains of Castagniccia.
There is a trail junction on that ridge. To the right a trail leads to Campana and Campodonico, two villages east of Monte San Petrone along the road D 71, which leads back to Col de Prato. If you have two cars (or like to try to hitchhike – not so advisable in Corse, because most people would not pick you up – this is at least my experience) you can choose this trail as descent trail. I never did it, the guide book says it is a 1,5 to 2 hours walk from the trail junction.
The summit trail is the left trail. It ascends the meadow ridge and reenters the woods on the west slope of Monte San Petrone. It starts to zigzag more steeply up the west slope and gains at last the summit rocks. There is a scree field and an easy rock scramble up to the summit. In fact there are several summits and the short traverse of the summit arête is quite enjoyable (UIAA grade I). The main summit is the southernmost one and can be identified by the little statue of Saint Peter.
Descend on the same trail back to Col de Prato.
Maps and Guides, Accomodation
Korsika; Die schönsten Küsten- und Bergwanderungen
Available in german, english and french.
IGN topographic map, 1 : 25.000
4349 OT and 4351 OT
and the adjacent villages 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 !