The Mediterranean may conjure images of beaches and wine-soaked dinners, but it’s also the home of Europe’s most notorious trail: the GR 20 in Corsica, France. Naturally, its reputation for challenge uniquely appealed to Jennifer Pharr Davis.
“One of the best trails we’ve done is in Corsica, the GR 20,” says Davis. “It’s phenomenal. I had no clue that a small island in the Mediterranean could be that rugged and that diverse and that gorgeous.”
Winding 112 miles and rising 35,000 vertical feet along Corsica’s pink-granite spine, the GR 20 leads over narrow ridges and loose rocky climbs. But the challenge is easily forgotten between oregano-speckled fields, views of the Mediterranean, glowing-blue alpine lakes, and, conveniently, huts stationed at regular intervals along the way.
“I felt like we were in The Princess Bride—there were the Cliffs of Insanity and the place that looked like the fire swamp,” says Davis. In other words, with its impressive cliffs and dense forests, “it looked magical, like some kind of fairy tale.” Still, few Americans venture to this forgotten Mediterranean island. “It’s a well-kept secret,” says Pharr.
Corsica.forHikers.com offers information on hiking the GR 20, and outfitter Tour Aventure offers guided hikes.
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis walks faster than many of us run. She holds speed records for Vermont’s Long Trail, the Bibbulmun Track in Australia, and the Appalachian Trail, on which she nailed the overall speed record in the summer of 2011.