Ecrins trekking

Chargès Valley

9 h
Return trip
Return trip
19.5 km
Total Length
1774 m
  • By walk
  • Fauna
  • Pass
  • Pastoralism

Departure : Les Gourniers, Réallon

In the Spring, the flowery valley is adorned with many different colours. It leads to the Règue mountain pass which signifies « flock » in Patois. 

The green colour of the bottom of the slopes contrasts with the uppermost grey-brown summits. The freshness of the grass accentuates the austerity of the rock which is sometimes sprinkled with snow. As for the torrent, it animates the hollow of the valley where it not rare to meet a cow coming there to drink.

From Gourniers car park, cross the hamlet and follow the track until la Chapelle-Saint-Marcellin. The track follows the hillside until a walkway at (Pont la Claie) then goes up to the cabin at Pré d'Antoni. Follow along to a torrent (walkway). Climb a grassy slope to reach a lower shelf and the source of the Chargès. From the source, follow « the drailles » (local word signifying ‘paths’ created by the passage of sheep) and cross a little stream running from a waterfall. The path meanders towards the mountain pass, marked with red lozenges and cairns. 


From Savines-le-lac, just before the bridge, take the road to Réallon. Follow the signs to "Parc national des Ecrins", until Gourniers hamlet at the bottom of the valley.

Information desks

Information center "les Gourniers" (summer only)

Les Gourniers
05160 Réallon
Tel :

Les Gourniers
05160 Réallon

Website - Email - 04 92 44 30 36

Lat: 44.61608, Lng: 6.33363

This trek is within park center, please read access rules.

Clic for map interaction

On the way...
Giant’s cauldron

The term ‘Giant’s cauldron’ describes a cavity created by a current of water in a standing rock. Here, the waters and the pebbles of the Chargès torrent whirl around polishing the cavity and giving it its spectacular shape. 

Black Woodpecker

This funny red bird with a red helmet and a long light coloured beak is the biggest woodpecker in the Alps. It is difficult to see because it is very solitary and distrustful. However, thanks to numerous clues that reveal its presence, it is possible to place its song and its very typical and sonorous. It taps endlessly to defend its territory and to find bark beetles or carpenter ants. 

Long Tailed Tit

This Tit is easily recognizable thanks to its ball of feathers coloured white, black, brown and pink, extended by a very long tail. Not very selective, it adapts to all kinds of forest environments as long as they are dense. Although it is more common on the plain, it is also present in the mountains up to an altitude of 2 000 m in the Alps. Unlike other tits, the Long Tailed Tit nests in a spherical and flexible nest which grows little by little as the young birds develop.  

Rock Bunting

The Rock Bunting is mainly a Southern mountain species. In the cold season, it migrates towards the valleys or the plains. In Spring, from the top of a bush, sings his song, agreeable but not very remarkable or loud.  As long as you are discreet and attentive, it is possible to sometimes hear his little "tsip", high-pitched brief cries.


Discreetly hanging onto the cliff thanks to its long clawed feet, the Wallcreeper is on a search for insects and spiders that it’s long, narrow, curved beak enables it to extract. The unique representative of the Tichodroma family, the   Wallcreeper dominates the vertical mountain wall where it finds its home and safety. Not a shy species, it is emblematic of the mountain region, the Wallcreeper sometimes moves closer to the villages in Winter.

Short Toed Snake Eagle

Spring has only just returned when you can hear cries as loud as the church bells. You have to lift your head up to admire two large birds flying together, alternating aerobatics and hovering in the sky like two silver coloured kites playing with the wind.. Their light stocky silhouette and their darker head enable you to identify the Short-toed Snake Eagle. It mainly feeds on reptiles (lizards and snakes) which it captures by the head, which it can then regurgitate in order to feed its young. 

Crave à bec rouge

La falaise qui surplombe le sentier au-delà de la chapelle Saint Marcellin abrite plusieurs couples de crave à bec rouge, fidèles à leur territoire. De la famille des corvidés, il ressemble beaucoup au chocard à bec jaune. Les différencier par la silhouette demande un peu d’expérience mais le bec est le bon critère : rouge, long et incurvé pour le crave, jaune et court pour le chocard. Jouer avec l’air en piqués, vrilles et loopings est sa spécialité.

Crave à bec rouge en vol
Eurasian Crag Martin

The Eurasian Crag Martin has beige hardly contrasted feathering. It is capable of real prowess in flight, a quality that is indispensable for catching the multitude of insects that it feeds on. In Spring, once it has found a rocky ridge, the Eurasian Crag Martin endlessly   transports mud and pieces of vegetation with its beak. Using this unique tool it solidly fixes each element to the edifice of the rock with a clever mix of saliva and water.


An emblematic animal in the Alps, the chamois or « rock goat » has short curled horns. Like the Ibex, it is easy to observe through binoculars. The goats and esterlons (young males aged one year) like to live in big herds ; in contrast, the billy goats stay quite isolated only rejoining the females during the mating season. In the winter, the chamois need a lot of tranquility in order to conserve their reserve of fat which they need in order to survive...

Cincle plongeur

Le cincle plongeur est facile à observer à condition d'être discret. Il vit le long des rivières et des torrents de montagne. Petit oiseau roux et gris, à la queue courte, il a le bec effilé, une tache blanche du menton à la poitrine. Cet étonnant passereau a la particularité de marcher au fond de l'eau à contre-courant, en quête de nourriture. Il s’aplatit et s’agrippe au fond avec ses doigts, ouvre ces yeux, protégés des flots par une fine membrane et repère alors vers, larves, petits crustacés et poissons.

Cincle plongeur
Pipit spioncelle

Ce petit oiseau de la famille des Passériformes peut rester invisible en voletant à contre jour dans le bleu du ciel. Il est donc très discret. Par contre, il sait se faire entendre en criant son nom : « pi-pit-pipit-pipit-pipit » et tout à coup, à l'apogée de son vol, il se laisse glisser vers le sol, les ailes déployées en parachute tout en émettant un « piiiiii » jubilatoire ! Posé dans l'herbe de l'alpage, il devient difficile à distinguer parmi les touffes de la grande fétuque.

Pipit spioncelle en plumage d'hiver
« Drailles »

The « drailles » are paths formed by the passage of flocks of sheep and herds of cows.

Traquet motteux

Fin avril, sur le sol de l'alpage, la neige fond progressivement. Les rochers servent de perchoirs au traquet motteux, tout juste revenu de sa migration. Le mâle apparaît le premier : en plumage nuptial, il a la tête et le dos gris, un masque de Zorro sur les yeux, ventre blanc et ailes sombres. Il se reconnaît facilement en vol à son croupion blanc et au T noir qui se dessine sur sa queue. La femelle est plus pâle et moins contrastée. Souvent postés sur une proéminence, ils surveillent les alentours à la recherche d'insectes.

Traquet motteux femelle en automne

Altitude profile

Altitude (m)

Min : 1471 m - Max : 2693 m

Distance (m)



Between la Chapelle-Saint-Marcellin and Claie bridge, there is a danger of falling rocks, particularly during heavy rain. At that time the itinerary is not advisable. At the end of the track, that crosses the pasture, it is not very visible. Follow the cairns. Be careful when faced with pockets of snow remaining at the bottom of the mountain pass. 

See also