The GR 20 is the most famous hiking trail in France… and certainly one of the most legendary. Its 180 kilometers of paths to travel between sea and mountains and its 15 meters of elevation gain each year attract trekkers to the Isle of Beauty.
Lhe long-distance footpath number 20, the Fra Li Monti crosses the Corsican mountain from north to south. From Calinzana in Haute-Corse, to Conca in Southern Corsica, the sixteen sometimes vertiginous, often demanding and always exceptional stages, will take you on the Corsican massif on the mountainside. You will furrow through the maquis, the pine forests, the pozzines or along the majestic ridges. The GR 20 is an intense, unforgettable and incomparable human adventure. But make no mistake, to succeed in this extraordinary challenge, it is more than necessary to prepare. Do not neglect preparation, both physically, logistically, technically or emotionally.
The course is demanding. Weather conditions can be difficult. And fatigue, isolation or lack of preparation often get the better of the enthusiasm of the most motivated hikers. If you want to get started conquering the GR 20 through the Corsican massif, do not miss your preparation.
Know the stages of the GR 20 and their specificities
The 16 stages of the GR 20 each have their own specificities. The steepest and most technical of them are to the north. And it is for this reason that it is often advisable to take the trail from north to south. As the days go by, the bodies suffer. It is better to keep the stages less technical and of less elevation for the last days. Your adventure will take you from hut to hut that should be booked. You will cross limestone walls towards ridges, cirques or canyons.
You will discover Mont Cinto or the sheepfolds of Vallone, the culmination of your journey, but also high altitude plateaus and lakes, as well as torrents where you will find a little rest. The magnificent forests will provide you with shade in summer. The typical villages that you will cross will allow you to discover the richness of Corsican culture. To best prepare your stages, we recommend the blog Snowleader, Site of the GR 20 or Hiking notebooks.
Define your course and objectives
If the typical hiker covers each of the stages in 4 to 8 hours, trail specialists swallow them much faster. Some double or triple the steps every day. Francois d'Haene hiked the trail in 31 hours, Guillaume Peretti in 32 hours, and Kilian Jornet in almost 33 hours. But these records should not make us forget the difficulty of this trek. No need to presume your strength. By taking the GR 20 for the first time, the idea is more to go to the end, than to beat the records of the best trailers!
It is also possible to divide the GR and carry out only one or more stages. The site MyGR.fr offers a magnificent 4-day itinerary to learn about the joys of the Corsican mountains in complete safety. Whether you are a beginner or a specialist in trekking and trail running, the idea is to find the formula and the route that suits you, in order to accomplish the challenge that you will have set for yourself.
The GR 20 is accessible to everyone, but many give up on the way. The cause of these dropouts is often the mismatch between their goals and their physical condition as we have seen, but also the lack of physical preparation. Getting started on the GR 20 is above all prepare physically in a coherent way. Your muscles will be strained with the multiple ascents and descents, the joints will suffer in stony terrain, the days of intense effort will pile up and generate generalized fatigue.
Before you set off, explore a variety of hiking trails of all types and in all weather conditions. Get your body used to uneven, long routes, bivouacs, treks over 2 or 3 days. The weeks preceding the departure will be decisive. Adopt a healthy lifestyle. Food, sleep, endurance, muscle building, hiking ... Nothing will be neglected. To succeed in your challenge, be ready in your body as well as in your head!
Equip yourself correctly for the GR 20
The last step in your preparation will be to equip yourself properly. Do not neglect any of your equipment while limiting the load to a minimum. Your high-upper hiking boots must be perfectly adapted to your foot, light, comfortable, reinforced, waterproof and breathable. The backpack should also be chosen with care. Its content will be the guarantee of your success. In his article published on Randonner Malin, François Jourjon offers his all-inclusive 12 kg equipment list for the GR 20 in full autonomy. We can only encourage you to consult it before setting out on the Corsican massif to discover its many treasures.