A Thru-Hike on Bread and Cheese: HexaTrek, the New Long-Distance Trail Across France

For a new long-distance trail outside of the U.S, check out HexaTrek, a brand new thru-hiking route across France.

The Trail

  • Total Length: ~3000 km (1664 mi)
  • Total Elevation Change: 113,300 m (371,719 ft)
  • Recommended Hiking Season: June-September

HexaTrek is divided into six stages across Southern and Eastern France. It begins at the border with Spain, traverses the Vosges, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, and ends on the border with Germany. It travels through 14 national parks and some of the most beautiful sites in France.

The History

Kevin Ginisty, Dylan Moron, and Thomas Bouissaguet, all had the same idea after their respective thru-hikes in the U.S, Croatia, and New Zealand—to design a route traversing all of France. They got together about a year ago to form the HexaTrek Association, an NGO devoted to handling the development and maintenance of HexaTrek and servicing the needs of the HexaTrek community. After the community Discord opened, William Helm also joined the leadership team. Together, they mapped out a route combining parts of 47 smaller trails from France’s robust trail network. The route is designed to bring hikers to the most scenic places while still constituting a continuous footpath across France.

Trail Logistics

Maps of all six sections of the HexaTrek route can be found on the website. The HexaTrek Association also ran a crowdfunding campaign to create an app that will show, in detail, all camping, water, shelters, and resupply locations. The association will give the GPX file for free to anyone who wants to overlay it over their map app of choice. There will not be extensive signage along HexaTrek in 2022, so GPS, map, and navigation skills are a must.

Wild camping is permitted on the majority of the trail, and there are also French mountain villages in which hikers can spend the night. These villages are the primary resupply locations and are known for their unique breads, cheeses, and dried meats. Since HexaTrek’s first thru-hikers will be departing in 2022, the villages are not used to long-distance backpackers and may not carry food or gear specific to multi-month treks. Because HexaTrek traverses France’s existing trail network, it is never too difficult to find exit routes back to civilization.

Stay Involved

You can start by joining the Discord for potential thru-hikers, where you can chat with the over 200 people also considering thru-hiking HexaTrek in 2022.

If you want to stay up-to-date with the community, receive further information about the trail, or if you’re interested in hiking a section, you can also join the community Discord.

For information on visas to France, see here.

Follow HexaTrek on Instagram (@hexatrek), Facebook (@LHexatrek), and YouTube (HexaTrek). And check out their website at https://en.hexatrek.com.

All images, including featured image, courtesy of Thomas Bouissaguet and the HexaTrek team.

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