• Activities:

    Camping, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Autumn, Winter

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    18.6 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2986 Feet

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildlife

Escape into winter by snowshoeing along Lac de Roselend in the French Alps of the Beaufortain. Time it right and you'll get powder and blue sky. 

The Roselend mountain pass is known in the cycling world for being part of the Tour de France, but in the winter it is essentially deserted. There are a few old buildings, a small electrical station and you'll perhaps see some locals out for a ski, but my bet is you'll feel magnificently alone in the alpine countryside.

You will be snowshoeing on the road itself, which is closed and unmaintained after the first snowfall. I've listed the road closure barrier on Highway D925 as the trailhead for the hike. Find an out-of-the-way place to park there, or have a friend drop you off as far up as they can safely drive.

The first 9 km of the hike (depending on if you drive beyond the barrier or not) is your first section of elevation gain. You can expect switchbacks and straight uphill stretches until you reach an old abandoned building that last I saw was being used as storage for windsurfing. That's your first indication that you've reached the lake. The road follows the edge of the lake all around the northern side, passing an old stone church and crossing a couple streams. Once you reach the eastern side, it starts to climb again with a few switchbacks up into the mountain pass proper.

Up in this flatter alpine stretch is where I recommend camping. According to my research, wild camping is tolerated in France as long as you camp well away from tourist areas, don't light a fire and leave before 9 AM. Check out this guide to wild camping on Freewheeling France for more advice.

Once you've spent a beautiful, quiet night surrounded by the mountains, rise with the sunshine to begin your descent. Take your time and enjoy the wilderness while you're still immersed in it.

Keep in mind snowshoes are much heavier to hike in than normal hiking boots. I hiked this 25 km solo with no real physical preparation and that was the biggest challenge for me. Also, please be aware of and prepared for inclement weather. The mountains can, of course, be dangerous. 

Pack List

  • Hiking backpack
  • Tent
  • Compass/GPS
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Lighter
  • Stove
  • Water bottles
  • Camera
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Trekking poles
  • Winter gear
  • Snowshoes
  • Headlamp
  • Sunglasses
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Jonathon Reed Explorer

Adventure-based photographer and videographer. Sunriser.

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