Check-list

Whether you’re off for a day’s hiking or planning to complete the entire itinerary in 12 stages between Port-la-Nouvelle and Foix, the Cathar Trail is an adventure that requires adequate preparation.

Sur les traces du Sentier Cathare ©Vincent Photographie-ADT de l'Aude

Weather conditions: choose the right period

By hiking at the right time of year you’ll enjoy yourself more and increase your chances of successfully completing the trail. The Cathar Trail is accessible any time of year. But each season’s weather potentially has some surprises in store: storms and oppressive heat in summer, and snow-covered heights in winter... So here are a few tips to help you plan your itinerary and choose the best time of year to embark on this memorable adventure.

The first precaution is to make sure the entire trail is accessible. The GR367 is a mid-mountain itinerary and there may be a névé or two still lingering at altitude in late spring, especially on the second part of the route between Bugarach and Foix.

You should also check that accommodation facilities are open, especially if you’re planning to stay in stopover gites. Most gites stay open all year round, but it’s worth phoning ahead, just in case.

The Trail is much busier in July and August than during the rest of the year. In the summer period, temperatures can quickly reach 40°C, the sun shines almost constantly and water can be hard to find.

Equipment

Although equipment can be found along the way, we recommend you embark on the GR® 367 with everything you need already in your backpack.

Les gîtes d'étape sur le Sentier Cathare ©Vincent Photographie-ADT de l'Aude
Points d'eau sur le Sentier Cathare ©Vincent Photographie-ADT de l'Aude

Here’s a practical but non-exhaustive list of essential equipment!

A comfortable backpack

It is vital to pick your backpack with care and choose the right volume to suit your own personal needs and ambitions: how many days do you expect to spend on the Trail, are you hiking alone or with a companion, with or without assistance... ? Trekkers carrying the strict minimum should take a bag of at least 20L with the basic essentials.

Adequate clothing

It rarely rains in Aude, but it only takes one big storm to spoil the experience... Take a waterproof jacket and trousers which are light and don’t take much room. Take some warm garments too, for chilly mornings and evenings.

Equipment: the small essentials

Water flask: choose the appropriate volume. Even if water can be found at regular points along the way, a flask or camel bag will come in handy, especially in very hot weather !
Swiss army knife : very useful for clearing the path, opening tins, cutting food or plasters, etc.
Sun protection: sunglasses, cap or sun hat, sun cream to avoid falling victim to heatstroke, sunstroke or sunburn.
First-aid kit: don’t forget to pack the strict minimum (plasters as you’re likely to get blisters) as well as compresses, disinfectant, etc.

Good walking shoes

Walking for twelve days in unsuitable shoes (if you make it that far) is a good way to put yourself off hiking for life. The basics: walking shoes, preferably above the ankle to help avoid sprains, and which you’ve already worn, to keep the risk of foot blisters to a minimum.

A mobile phone

OK, so getting away and switching off is the whole point of doing the GR®367. So it’s just as well that there’s little or no signal along the itinerary. Nevertheless, it is recommended you take a mobile phone with you, if only for use in an emergency. Remember to also carry a mobile charger bank or an extra battery.

Map and guidebook

Although the entire itinerary is properly waymarked (red and white marks), it’s a good idea to take with you the appropriate IGN map (1/50,000) and guidebook (Rando Editions). This will inform you about the stages, variants and technical sections of the itinerary and allow you to divert your route if necessary. Download your trail guide here to have full information on available services and facilities along the way: restaurants, accommodation, services, transport, etc.

What else?
A camera for those souvenir shots, hiking poles to reduce the effort, a lighter, a torch, a sewing kit, washing powder, etc.

Little extras

Hike light with la Malle Postale

La Malle Postale can collect your luggage every morning from your stopover accommodation and drop it off at the next one of your choice (from €50 per stage) . You can keep the cost down by choosing the most suitable time of year to do the hike in stages. More details on Optimalle.
Contact : +33 4 71 04 21 79, contact@lamallepostale.com

Randonner sur le Sentier Cathare en direction du Château de Peyrepertuse ©Vincent Photographie
Randonnée à vélo sur le Sentier Cathare à Peyrepertuse ©Vincent Photographie-ADT de l'Aude

Guides and mountain leaders

Want to do the Cathar Trail in the company of a professional guide whose expertise and customised advice will keep you out of danger ? Then call upon the services of our professional networks of mountain leaders and Cathar Country guides. They’re local experts and they’re here to escort you.