The Saut du Laire hike is located in the Ecrins National Park and is around 45 minutes from Gap, France. We completed this hike in September 2020 and there was fresh snow on the ground. The snow was not normal; it had been thirteen years since the area had seen snow this early in the season!
The hike started at well established parking area. We arrived in the off-season around 11:00 am and the parking lot was very full. However, this parking area is the base of many different trails and we did not see a lot of people on our hike.
The Saut du Laire trail is a 5.5 mile out-and-back trail with a few steep spots. It starts by walking through a quaint, old town. It looks like there would be a couple of shops and restaurants, but they were all closed when we were there. After we passed through the town, we were met with an open trail with fields on both sides of us. We saw plenty of animals on this hike! There were four horses grazing on the grass, a large gopher, and hundreds of sheep being corralled by a large, white sheep dog. The sheep dog was not close to us, and that’s a good thing. We have heard they aren’t friendly!
We used our trekking poles for these spots to help stabilize. The majority of the trail was slow elevation gains and was easy to navigate. The end of the trail led to a bridge that went over the top of a waterfall. The surrounding mountains behind the waterfall were beautiful and worth stopping to appreciate.
We took a different trail down so that we could get a better view of the waterfall. The bridge across the river had a sign that it was closed, but it was our only option. Others were crossing the bridge so we did not think much of it. We did not want to hike all the way back up to the top! We went across the bridge and understood why it was closed. The wood was so soft and it was a safety hazard! We made it safely across though and continued back on the original trail.