Parco Naturale del Gran Bosco di Salbertrand

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The Trail of the Franks

On foot         Great Interest: Geology Great Interest: Panorama Great Interest: Hystory 
  • Departure: Oulx - Frais (1,050m)
  • Arrival: Frais - Chiomonte (1,635m)
  • Duration: 6 hour/s
  • Difficulty Level: EE - For expert hikers
  • Length: 12.9 km
  • Difference in height: 992m

The Trail of the Franks, born in 1982 with the aim to retrace the itinerary followed by the troops of Charlemagne to get closer to the Chiuse besieged by the Lombards, develops along trails that have represented over the centuries a privileged route for pilgrims and travelers crossing Valle di Susa.
From Oulx to Sacra di San Michele, over 60 km of trails touch ancient Charterhouses and important religious settlements, and represent an important hiking route offering the opportunity to cross areas of great naturalistic interest and to grasp everywhere the sense of the past and present history.

After leaving Borgata del Gad, where you will find the lap point, go ahead for about 1.3 km along a dirt road and then along a mule track before finding the panels marking the Park borders (1,050m) near Rio Gran Comba. Along this stretch, the trail crosses the military area and can be closed because of drills. Climb along a trail cut into the hillside and crossing the pinewood, with Dora Riparia and Pont Ventoux lake on your left. After about 800m, you will get to the junction with trail no. 8. After an uphill stretch among rocks and Scotch pines, descend to loc. Le Oure. Along this stretch you will find several references to the material culture, as well as the traces of the rock exploitation for the production of lime. Cross the carriage road leading to the picnic area Pinea and the wooden bridge over Rio Gorge. On the left there is a fountain, and on the right the signs indicating GTA and the Trail of the Franks which begins again to climb along the Park borders, and then goes down and follows the dirt road which, after about 1.5 km, reaches the walls of the Sapé Fort at 1,190m.
If you go ahead, you will meet the houses of Sapè of Exilles (1,187m), the Grange Godisard (1,185m), and the houses of the Brusà, at 1,135m. Here the trail follows for a stretch trail no. 13: on the left you can go down to Exilles, while on the right you continue climbing up to the houses of Serre Mouton, where you will meet a fountain. After about 11.6 km, a wooden trail marker indicates that trail no. 13 continues on the right towards Clot des Anes, while the Trail of the Franks goes straight on towards Frais. Among green alders, golden chain trees, and raspberries you get to a forest road at 1,635m. The Trail of the Franks departs from the Park borders and gets to the wooden barrier closing the road. You will have to walk for about 3.7 km to get to the stop Frais (at 1,490m).

Between 2006 and 2007, thanks to the funds obtained with the Local Development Plan LEADER PLUS promoted by Gal Escarton and Valli Valdesi, Gran Bosco Park Authority, in collaboration with Consorzio Forestale Alta Valle di Susa, cleaned, fixed and provided with adequate trail markers and information panels the stretch between Gad Lake (Oulx) and the ecomuseum site of the charcoal pile (Salbertrand). In 2010, always thanks to the collaboration between the Park Authority and the Consorzio Forestale, also the stretch between Sapè and Brusà di Exilles was fixed and opened again to the public (it had been inaccessible for two years because of intense floods). Important measures have been implemented in the stretch between Goudissard and Brusà di Exilles, a footbridge has been placed over Rio Baccon, and the route has been changed in order to avoid the areas usually involved by landslides, providing it with adequate trail markers.
The trail between Gad and Frais is now easily accessible and we hope that these measures may promote the complete fixing and enhancement of the historical trail.

  • Access: Oulx - Frais
  • Departure altitude: 1,050m asl
  • Arrival altitude: 1,635m asl

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