Gr20 in mid-July. Worth postponing one year?


Posted: Sun, Feb 2, 2020, 8:35

Hi all!

First of all, as a new forum member, I’d like to thank everyone for this amazing forum. It’s a very enjoyable way to prepare for going to Corsica.

I’ve been planning to walk the gr20 starting in mid-July. Even though there’s this massive forum, I’ve been struggling to find posts or experiences that started the gr at this time. Guidebooks say that the period is not recommended due to the crowds and temperatures. However, if the crowds are that big, how bad can the temperatures be? Of course it’s impossible to predict the temperatures this far ahead. I would only like to ask if there’s people who did the gr20 in the scorching summer heat, and if those people enjoyed it? Or would you all rather recommend postponing the trip to a more agreeable temperature?

The thing is that I would love to do the gr20 this year. Next year my planning will be a bit different, and I’ll be able to leave a couple weeks early, say the end of June.

I’d love to hear from you.



Posted: Sun, Feb 2, 2020, 8:55

Also, regarding the ever-asked northbound or southbound issue: is there still more people starting in the north? The only sources I read are quite dated already. I was wondering if in the past few years people have started to go northbound more. If so, that would be an argument for me to do so as well, since I love the comraderie of walking partners, versus meeting new people for one night - every night.


Posted: Sun, Feb 2, 2020, 18:31

Hi Fender, well the weather lately has become more and more unpredictable. But if you ask me, I'd rather go with scorching heat than with cold temperatures. The heat will make you enjoy the many pools you'll find along your way. And with the mild winter we've been having this year we should expect a torrid summer.
As for the northbound vs southbound issue I really can't tell. My impression is that we're still having more people going south than viceversa. But that's just me.



Posted: Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 8:11

For what it is worth. My visits to Corse initially to walk the Fra li Monti were over the period 2007-2013.
My visits to the GR20 were during June...the earlier one was accompanied by warm weather and a total lack of any snow to walk over....the second visit, a year later, at a similar time was a walk over the three earlier stages with a trip up to Monte Cintu and then switching to the Mare a Monti Nord from Moriani through to Cargese. A few patches of snow on the terrain through to Ascu and bigger snowfields to walk over on Cintu.
We returned in 2009 in the middle of May to walk the three multi day routes...MeM Nord, MeM Sud and MaM Sud from Calenzana through to Porto Vecchio. The MaM Centre was followed a couple of years later this time in September.
In 2013 I decided to walk the GR20 this time beginning in the South on account of the winter still around on 1st, of walking this way round the winter in the North had basically thinned out.

My experiences in Corse were of very pleasant warm days with rain for short periods in the South and once for an afternoon in the North.
Considering that the GR20 is walked always above 900 metres when walking upwards to reach the first camp I never really found the heat too oppressive excepting on one long day out in the South from Usciolu over Monte Alcudina and down to Asinau.
No experience of walking in July or August although with the coming of the GR20 Corsica on WhatsApp last summer maybe that could a way of getting more information of the conditions in both July and August?




Posted: Tue, Feb 4, 2020, 16:53

About 25.000 people hike the GR20 in whole or in part each year, the overwhelming majority during the 4 to 5 months when refuges are staffed (late May to early Oct). The amount of hikers is not evenly spread: there are slightly more visitors in June and September due to a combination of factors: European summer holidays, July-Aug price hike (pun intended), real or purported weather constraints.

As for the weather in the summer months over the last decade:
- catastrophic T-storms occur during any month (June, late July-early Aug, Sept... the infamous "August 15th storms" hold no longer true), at day or night (usually after noon but some last the whole night or start at sunrise)
- daytime temperature in the mountains remains roughly similar from mid June till late Aug (ca. 20-25°C at 1000m, 10-15°C at 2000m) notwithstanding the occasional heatwave (30+°) or rain/hailstorm (sub-0° plus winds).
- the Mediterranean summer drought impacts the flow and quality of rivers and sources with a delay, in Sept-Oct.

TL;DR: July-August is slightly less crowded and more expensive, the weather as a whole is not dramatically different from June or September


Geologist in Corsica


Posted: Tue, Feb 25, 2020, 10:05

Yes, it gets hot and crowded in the middle of summer, but if the heat was unbearable then it wouldn't be crowded. Unless you book way in advance, forget about getting a bed in a refuge. Camping is much better anyway. I have about 20 years of experience of the GR20 and it's changed a lot in that time. When I first visited, almost everyone went north to south, but every year it seems that more and more people go south to north, but they're still in the minority. The trail seems a lot less crowded if you go south to north, because you only meet people for a couple of hours in the middle of each day, and of course at the refuge sites, which are always crowded. The temperature in the mountains might be hot, but on the beaches it's unbearable - for me anyway. I make the most of shadows and breezes in the mountains in order to keep cool, and on windy days I'm fine. If things were as bad as some people say, there wouldn't be thousands of trekkers on the trail every summer. I was once on a trail where I didn't meet anyone for five days. You'll never get that experience on the GR20, but on the other trail, I didn't get the mountains of Corsica!