Mastering the GR®20: Your Comprehensive Guide to Successful Route Preparation

IN SHORT 🌲👟💼🗓️💬

  • 200 km distance over 16 stages 🗺️
  • Total elevation gain of 10,000 m 🏔️
  • Crossing varied landscapes 🌳
  • Varied climatic conditions 🌦️
  • Budget from 20 to 35 euros/day 💼
  • Accommodation in shelters and bivouacs 🏡
  • Best period from May to October 🗓️
  • Essential physical preparation 👟
  • Essential hiking equipment
  • Choice of north-south or south-north direction 🔄

Get ready to conquer the legendary GR®20 in Corsica! Discover all the essential tips for a successful adventure: from physical training to the choice of equipment, including the preferred routes. Follow the guide for an unforgettable experience in the heart of wilderness.

The GR®20 is an emblematic trail of Corsica, 200 km long, which attracts more than 12,000 hikers each year in search of adventure. The 16 stages, with varied landscapes, offer notable physical challenges with a total elevation gain of 10,000 m. Physical preparation and choice of equipment are essential to complete this demanding trail. The ideal period is from May to October, with June and September presenting milder weather conditions. Respecting shelters is essential, as is preventing weather-related risks. The budget depends on the level of autonomy chosen, ranging from 20 to 35 euros per day. The north-south direction of the route is the most popular, although the south-north direction has advantages. In summary, to succeed in your adventure on the GR®20, careful preparation and good organization are essential.

Comparative table

🗺️200 km distance over 16 stages
🏔️Total elevation gain of 10,000 m
🌳Crossing varied landscapes
🌦️Varied climatic conditions
💼Budget from 20 to 35 euros/day
🏡Accommodation in refuges and bivouacs
🗓️Best period from May to October
👟Essential physical preparation
Essential hiking equipment
🔄Choice of north-south or south-north direction

Presentation of the GR®20

Created in 1972, the GR®20 is an emblematic marked trail of Corsica. Linking Calenzana in Balagne to Conca in the Porto-Vecchio hinterland, this route attracts more than 12,000 hikers each year looking for challenge and adventure. The trail extends for approximately 200 km, following a northwest/southeast diagonal along the watershed.

The stages and the difficulty

Initially designed in 15 stages, the route modified in 2012 now offers 16 steps, the duration of which varies between 4.5 and 8 hours. Crossing wild landscapes perched between 1,000 and 2,000 m above sea level, the GR®20 peaks at 2,225 m. The terrain is demanding with a total of approximately 10,000 m of positive altitude difference.

Prepare for a diversity of landscapes from pine and beech forests to windswept ridges and glacial lakes. Nature lovers will be delighted by this wealth of flora and fauna.

Physical and material preparation

To succeed in the GR®20, it is essential to prepare yourself physically. Train regularly by hiking, accumulating elevation changes similar to those of the GR®20. A good physical condition and an serious motivation are essential.

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The choice of equipment is crucial for a successful hike. Here is a list of what you need to bring:

  • Good quality, well-worn hiking shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • A precise map
  • A comfortable and fitted backpack
  • A medical kit
  • A windbreaker and a rain cape
  • Headgear to protect yourself from the sun and rain
  • Spare and protective clothing
  • Sunscreen
  • A headlamp
  • Energy foods and a water reserve (at least 2L)
  • A sleeping bag and possibly a tent

When to do the GR®20?

The best time to hike the GR®20 extends from May to October. Note that some portions of the trail may remain snowy until June, which can make crossings more difficult. July and August are very busy, while the months of June and September offer milder weather conditions and fewer visitors.

discover everything you need to know to prepare your route on the GR®20, one of the most emblematic hiking trails in Corsica, with our practical advice and recommendations for an unforgettable experience.

Weather management

Weather conditions can vary considerably throughout the route, making certain stages particularly demanding. Shelter keepers are excellent informants. Check the weather forecast, prepare for large temperature variations and adapt your equipment accordingly.

The other important point is to keep an eye out for thunderstorms in late summer, usually between mid-August and late September. Leaving early in the morning can save you from big surprises.

Budget for the GR®20

The budget for doing the GR®20 depends largely on your level of autonomy. Those in favor of complete autonomy will have a reduced budget by bivouacking and preparing their own meals. On the other hand, those who prefer shelters and prepared meals should budget between 20 and 35 euros per day. Bring cash because credit cards are not accepted everywhere.

Shelters and good practices

To ensure that shelters remain pleasant places for everyone, it is important to respect a few rules of good manners:

  • Take off your shoes and leave them at the entrance.
  • Clear the table after eating for others.
  • Wash your dishes immediately after use.
  • Remember to throw your waste into the bins provided for this purpose.
  • Fill the pots with hot water for others in the morning.
  • Respect the sleep of other hikers.

Choice of direction of travel

Around two thirds of hikers choose to travel the GR®20 from north to south, particularly for reasons of accessibility and because guidebook descriptions often point in this direction. However, the south-north route has its advantages, such as a gradual adaptation to the effort with easier initial stages. Make your choice based on your preferences and physical condition.

List of Essential Equipment

  • 👟 Hiking shoes
  • 🏞️ Accurate map
  • 👕 Change of clothes
  • 💧 Water reserve (at least 2L)
  • 🍫 Energy foods
  • 💊 Medical kit
  • 💡 Headlamp
  • 🛡️ Rain cape
  • 🏕️ Sleeping bag
  • 📱 Cell phone


Q: When is the best time to do the GR®20?

A: From May to October, with preferences for June and September for milder weather and fewer visitors.

Q: What is the difficulty level of GR®20?

A: The GR®20 is very demanding, with significant elevation changes and rocky terrain.

Q: What is the average duration of the stages?

A: Each stage lasts between 4.5 and 8 hours.

Q: What equipment is essential?

A: Hiking shoes, change of clothes, water reserve, energy food, medical kit and a headlamp.

Q: Do I need to reserve shelters in advance?

A: Yes, especially in high season (July-August), it is recommended to book the refuges in advance.

Q: Is it possible to refuel along the way?

A: Yes, some shelters offer food and meal options.

Q: Can you pay by credit card on the GR®20?

A: Not everywhere, so it is recommended to bring cash or a checkbook.

Q: What is the maximum altitude of the GR®20?

A: The highest point of the GR®20 reaches 2,225m.

Q: Are there easier route options?

A: Yes, certain stages can be split and villages are accessible for dropouts.

Q: What is the most common direction of travel?

A: The majority of hikers choose to walk from north to south.