The west coast mountains between Ajaccio in the south and Porto in the north are mainly the summits of east - west running ridges, coming down from the central Corse mountains.
Punta Sant´Eliseo is such a mountain. It forms the end of a long ridge, starting at Monte d´Oro, which is limited by the Gravano valley in the south and the Cruzzini and Liamone valley in the north.
At Punta Sant´Eliseo this ridge splits up in a south fork running down to the coastal range of Ajaccio and a north fork, ending at Tiuccia and Liamone / Sagone, an area with nice beaches and many accomodation facilities.
Both ridge forks form the valley of La Cinarca, an old Corse shire with Sari d´Orcino as main village. This is one of the trailheads for this unknown summit.
Punta Sant´Eliseo provides great views over the west coast of Ajaccio, to the central Corse mountains and to the south. And you will normally be alone the whole day long.
There are two main trailheads for summiting Punta Sant´Eliseo:
For Tavacco use the road N 193, Ajaccio - Corte. Tavacco is about 20 km northeast of Ajaccio. At Gravona on the N 193, take the road D 129, it winds up to Tavacco. Best to park your car at the trailhead west of the village.
This village is situated at the eastern end of the Cinarca valley. There are several possibilities to reach it:
- from the north (direction from Vico, Evisa, Corte) take the winding and highly scenic D 1, starting at Vico. Remote Corse at its best !!
- from the west coast (Sagone, Cargèse, Calcatoggio) there are the roads D 25 (starting at Tiuccia), D 601 and D 101, all starting from the D 81, the west coast road, up into the mountains.
- from the south and Ajaccio use the N 193 until number D 161 / D 1 is signposted to Sarrola and Sari d´Orcino.
At Sari d´Orcino look for a parking place along the roads in the upper part of the village (called Acqua in su; upper water).
There are several railroad routes on Corse and there is a rail station at Ajaccio(link to the schedule).
Public busse are operating from and to Ajaccio and the adjacent villages (see schedules here). There might be local services up to Tavacco or Sari d´Orcino.
Red Tape, Mountain Conditions2007: No fees and no limitations as far as I know. Camping is forbidden outside public campgrounds.
Punta Sant´Eliseo is a whole years hike, due to the mild mediterranean climate and the moderate height of the mountain. In summer it will be very hot and there is not much shadow. Be careful during hunting season, you might be confused with some wild pigs roaming through the dense macchia.
Normal hiking gear with good hiking boots is sufficient. Bring much water during summer. Long troesers are recommended because of some macchia struggle involved.
Routes and Trails
This is the short trail for Punta Sant´Eliseo.
It starts a little west of the village at a water reservoir. Turn left at the beginning of the village main street and follow the road to a little cemetery and the reservoir.
At the end of the road a trail starts left of a little creek in a small valley. At a col at the end of the little valley the trail turns right, follows a water conduit, leaves it again and reaches the southeast ridge of Punta Sant´Eliseo. The trail now climbs steadily this ridge up to a source (Funtana d´Acqua Fredula) and to the southwest main ridge of the summit. Simply follow up this ridge to the broad summit with the large radio antenna.
Sari D´Orcino trail
Starting from Sari d´Orcino you can combine two routes to a great round trip and a traverse of the Punta Sant´Eliseo summit ridges. This will be a long day !
At the village part Acqua in Sù follow the road which brings you to the northern top of the village. There are some reservoirs at the end of the road. There a good trail starts ascending and traversing the western slopes of Punta San Damiano, the "house mountain" of Sari d´Orcino. It leads through an old oak and chestnut wood, mixed with macchia, up to Col de Vergio (don´t mix it up with the Col de Vergio with the road from Porto to Corte / Ponte Leccia).
At Col de Vergio don´t follow the trail going straight on and descending into the Cruzzini valley. Turn sharp right instead and follow the north ridge up to Punta San Damiano. You soon will discover a trail leading up the ridge, sometimes traversing the upper west slopes and regaining the ridge again.
Some 70 m below Punta San Damiano summit the trail leaves the ridge and traverses the east slope of the summit to gain its southeast ridge.
If you want to summit Punta San Damiano (994 m; recommended; a good lookout over the Cinarca valley) this can be easily done by following the north ridge off-trail and regaining the trail by descending the east slope of the summit until you reach the trail again.
Soon you arrive a col and a meadow. The IGN topographic map shows the trail continuing on the west and the south side of the ridge between Punta San Damiano and Punta Sant´Eliseo (between the locations "Cavalarecciu and Sabatanasca, mentioned on the map). In 2007 this trail was not existing. I instead continued directly on the ridge, partly off-trail, partly using sheep trails until I regained the suddenly restarting hiking trail anew. As this hike is not a very common one the trails are not maintained.
Follow the west ridge to the west slopes of Punta Sant´Eliseo, those have to be ascended off-trail; they are steep but easy to overcome. Take a well-deserved break on the summit with its great views.
The descent route follows the southwest main ridge, in its upper parts it is the Tavacco trail. Leave Tavacco trail where the southeast ridge splits up from the southwest ridge and stay on the latter. You traverse the secondary summit of Piano Malo and follow the ridge in western direction. There are some off-trail parts involved - don´t leave the ridge!
At Culletta di Sannicaccia you reach a belay in the ridge. The trail gets better now and a lot steeper. It enters a low forest and arrives at a col, Bocca di Bufonaggia. Take the right trail there, leading through dense woods into a valley with a little creek. After traversing the creek the trail gets lost again. Don´t follow the pigs path up the valley, you will get lost. Follow the valley on its north side a little above the creek off-trail, soon the trail starts again and gets better. You have to cross a second valley and a second creek, the trail gets lost again and reappears after about 100 meters. This is the badest part of the hike, dense macchia, thorny bushes and a trail disapperaing and reappearing constantly.
After leaving the second valley the trail gets much better again and crosses a rock face coming down from Punta San Damiano. It traverses the southwest slopes of Punta San Damiano and reaches a chapel (Chapelle Santa Reparata), some minutes above Sari d´Orcino. A good trail is leading down into the upper part of the village where your car is parked.
Maps, Guides and Accomodations
Korsika; Die schönsten Küsten- und Bergwanderungen
Available in german, english and french.
IGN topographic map, 1 : 25.000
4151 OT Vico, Cargèse, Golfe de Sagone
and the adjacent villages there are all kinds of accomodations like hotels, appartments, holiday 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 !