Ecrins trekking

Lac Gary via le Vet

9 h 30
Duration
Hard
Hard
Return trip
Return trip
16.9 km
Total Length
2155 m
Ascent
Uses
  • By walk
Thematic
  • Lake and glacier
  • Panorama
  • Pastoralism

This signposted itinerary is the only one that enables you to reach the magnificent Gary Lake in the Arcanier massif that resembles a citadel. 

The path starts from the lowest point of the heart of the National Park at an altitude of 800 m. This long, demanding hike will take you across all alpine vegetation stages. The ascension along the Tête de Vêt and via the Gary Gap offer panoramic views of a good part of the Ecrins, Devoluy, Vercors et Grand Armet.

From the Entraigues church car park, follow the road to Valjouffrey up to the last garden and turn left onto the footpath that is signposted Vet-lac- Gary. It continues along a stream that starts at the Combe de la Draye, then climbs up across a rock fall and meanders along rocky ledges. The footpath goes through a beech forest and continues swiftly upwards as it gets closer to the Combe des Roberts, which it crosses as it continues to gain in altitude on the right bank.  At the fork in the road Jas des Agneaux/Vet-Lac Gary hut, the slope is not so steep. Follow the route on the right hand side and, by the ledge footpath, enter the Vêt valley in order to get to the pastoral hut. The route follows the left bank of the stream. Link up to the small path coming from Drayes on the Blanc pass. It meanders on a slope of scree below the gap in the Arcanier.  From the Gary gap, go down as far as the lake that is set on a terrace facing the summit of the Valjouffrey valley. Return by the same route.

Transport

Bus stop: Entraigues 

Access

On the N85, take the D526 towards Entraigues 

Information desks

Maison du Parc du Valbonnais

Reception, information, temporary exhibition room, reading room and video-projection on demand. Shop: products and works of the Park. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Place du Docteur Eyraud
38740 Entraigues

Website - Email - 04 76 30 20 61

Lat: 44.90153, Lng: 5.9496

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

Clic for map interaction

On the way...
Flora
Flora on the scree slopes

The flora on the crystalline scree slopes at low altitude is adapted to very high temperatures which are due not only to the sun but also to the structure of the soil. Here, dark coloured stones have accumulated on the slopes, oriented like solar panels forming a group, favourable to stockage and radiation. Wild roses of all kinds, spiky shrubs thistles have hardened to this atmosphere but so have the Sweet William and the Sheep’s Bit Scabious. 

Un grand apollon sur une jasione des montagnes
Fauna
Green Lizard and Wall Lizard

Two species with legs stay close to the track. Quick as a flash, these little saurians escape from your presence while signaling their own... One, around thirty centimeters is impressive because of its size and is green blue colour; it is the green lizard... The other, russet coloured, much smaller is very common, it has not been named by accident; it is the wall lizard. Both feed on insects and hibernate in the cold season...

Un lézard vert mâle
Flora
Beech forest and mushrooms

From an altitude of 1300m, there is an unexpected forest, containing crooked trees, with many branches and smooth grey bark... Some beech trees are grouped there, projecting their shade onto a less hostile slope... They include a dried beech tree on  acidic soil, which characteristically does not welcome many flowering plants... A thick carpet of dead leaves crunches underfoot and is punctuated by rare Snowy Wood Rush in Summer and, luckily, Penny Bun and Black Trumpet mushrooms at the end of Autumn.

Sentier traversant la hêtraie de Godissard
Flora
Bearberries and Heather

The highest elevated places, rather bare and well exposed on this hike are covered with flowerbeds with miniature shrubs. They contain Bearberries, or busserole, with round evergreen leaves and little red fruits. At the end of the summer, it is not rare to see the appearance between these bushes of bouquets of pink flowers, they are heather. Also called callune. It is calcifuge.

Raisin d'ours
Geology
Spilites

The elevated crossing to jas des Agneaux has the particularity of being dominated by a quite remarkable geological feature.  While you have continued to follow the crystalline base of the massif, you will then see below you the end of this kind of rock marked by a seam of volcanic origin, purplish black and several meters high: these are the spilites. Positioned on these, is an immense limestone cone which constitutes the summit of Vêt. This geological feature is highly visible from the departmental road going down to Entraigues. 

Spilites sous le sommet de Vêt
Fauna
Red-billed chough

The red-billed chough is a surprising bird in many ways. It lives close to the cliffs, plays with the clouds and breaks the silence with a brief, high-pitched almost metallic cry. Called by the echo from the rock faces, its fellow choughs reply. With a confident, quick step, the red-billed chough, meticulously strides across the pastures in small groups in search of small worms and grasshoppers. Apart from an occasional, seasonal exception, linked to available food, the chough is sedentary.

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Flora
Swiss pine

The Swiss pine grows at the upper edge of the various forests that you have walked through. For a softwood, it holds the record for altitude. The Swiss pine is easy to recognise by its needles that grow in fives. The spotted nutcracker feeds on its seeds, hidden at the base of the scales that form a very resistant cone. It thus disseminates them aiding the dispersal of the species. This vital relationship is an example of association for mutual benefit.

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Flora
Citril finch

The citril finch is a small green-yellow-grey bird. It looks like a small greenfinch, but the metallic cry that it gives out during its short flights, leaves no doubt. If you watch it for long enough you will notice a pretty grey-blue colour on the head and the sides of its chest. Over longer distances with it wavy flight, it is similar to a goldfinch. Just like its cousin, it is sociable and wanders in small groups to explore the tufts of nettles or grass. 

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Fauna
Vultures

These large birds are on the lookout for animal corpses, dispersed due to the harsh mountain climate at the foot of the rocks or avalanche corridors. They clean up the mountainside thus preventing the spread of infectious agents.

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Flora
Arctic alpine forget me not

The king of the flowering dwarf plants that cover the windy summits is the predominant Arctic alpine forget me not. It did not take much for this bright blue to become known as 'royal' blue. Its blue flowers are found at very high altitudes as high as 3750 m, always grouped together in cushion shape, snuggled in the rocky gaps of the bare summits, often alongside genepi and androsace. This small forget me not can live for decades. The Arctic forget me not, got its French name "éritriche nain" from the botanist Schrader due to its velvety or silky aspect: in Greek erion means wool and Thrix, hair.

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Fauna
Bearded vulture

Above the pastures, driven by curiosity, a huge slender-looking bird approaches. With its diamond-shaped tail, there is no doubt: it is a bearded vulture. It is one of Europe's largest birds with a wingspan of 2.80 m. The adult is light coloured with narrow wings, whereas the young are darker with wider wings. Their feeding regime is based on bones. In order to ingest them, the bearded vulture flies into the air and drops them above a rock fall in order to break them. Wrongly accused in the past of taking away children and lambs, the bearded vulture was persecuted by man for a long time.

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Lake
Lake Gary cirque

Lake Gary and its cirque were formed by glacial deepening. The lake is now filled by melting névé, a build-up of snow that resists the summer temperatures, and which it is better to avoid. The fish that are present in the lake are from populations that were introduced at the beginning of the last century. For the flocks of sheep, the lake is one of the only practical places to drink.

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Altitude profile

Altitude (m)

Min : 819 m - Max : 2480 m

Distance (m)

 

Advice

There is no water supply!