Corsica mountains comprise the dominant geographic feature of the island and mountain hiking in Corsica is one of the most popular things to do that has nothing to do with the sea or the miles of pristine beaches. Its highest point is Monte Cinto reaching a height of nearly 9,000 feet and located in the north central part of the island about halfway between Bastia and the Gulf of Porto. From this highest point on the island, you can view the peaks of mountains in Italy and Switzerland from its summit—more than 250 astonishing miles away. Corsica hiking on this dramatic peak is a bit of an expedition, and there is even technical mountain climbing available here.
The mountains in Corsica are such a dominant feature, that the island has been referred as the “Mountain in the Sea” for millennia. The main Corsica mountains and highest peaks are all protected by the huge Natural Regional Park that surrounds Monte Cinto in the interior.
Throughout France is a network of ancient trails and footpaths that is hundreds of miles long and called Les Sentiers de Grande Randonnee. These paths are maintained today and numbered as “GR” routes or treks. The GR20 Trek is the only one located on the island of Corsica. It begins in Calenzana about seven miles south of Calvi and runs all the way to the southern mountains in Corsica about ten miles north of Porto Vecchio. This trail is about 110 miles long, and is considered the toughest long distance route in Europe. You need to be in excellent physical shape and health to complete all 15 days or so that the entire trek takes. Along the route, you will find “refuges,” which are basic mountain huts providing sleeping quarters (for as many as 50 people) and food. There are only a couple Corsica hotels along this route.
It is possible to do some less ambitious Corsica hiking along the GR20 route, by accessing it only for a day at Vizzavona on the main highway between Bastia and Ajaccio. As the mountains in Corsica run all the way down to the sea and the major seaport towns, you can get in very rewarding Corsica hiking in many areas. Sometimes, simply getting to some of the island’s most famous beaches requires your own foot power or a four-wheel drive vehicle.
The Corsica mountains have some wonderful alpine lakes, many of which are graced with beautiful sparkling waterfalls that create serene pools. Along the routes and footpaths that shepherds and farmers have been trekking for generations are more than 30 prehistoric megalithic sites, such as Filitosa, that are as old and mysterious as the stone formations at Stonehenge in England. It is possible to book walking tours of the island from operators in both the United States and Europe. These often include overnights in charming bed and breakfast inns in infrequently visited mountain villages, and often end with a stay of a few days on one of the island’s more than 200 pristine beaches.