TOPO Canyoning

Gorges du Cady, Casteil

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Large, beautiful water canyon on the slopes of the Canigou in the gorges (de la Jasse ) du Cady, above the village of Casteil, near Vernet-les-Bains. It's a long run in a wild, deep and partly sunny setting, which is very welcome given the temperature of the water (15º at best). The course is winding and offers magnificent views. It's not terribly difficult, but it's still a tough canyon, with some fine waterfalls, a few small jumps and several slides, including an "eject" in a rather fantastic final gully.

Technical summary

Type ✦ Water canyon
Location ✦ Casteil, Vernet-les-bains
Region ✦ Pyrénées-Orientales
Country ✦ France
Vertical rise ✦ 200m
Distance ✦ 3000m
Difficulty ✦ v4-a5-III
Max abseiling ✦ 20m
Duration ✦ 3h to 4h

Access to the place

From Vernet, head for Casteil and, once in the village, follow the signs for Gorges du Cady. Leave your first vehicle a little further up the road, at a parking lot on the right, level with the water catchment house (and the start of the yellow signposted path to the Cady waterfalls, the return route). With the second vehicle, continue along the small road to the 1st parking lot (approx. 4 km) and continue along a track in average condition to the top, where you can park. Alternatively, try the stop for the shuttle bus.

Map & topo

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 20'

Take the track in the opposite direction and quickly turn right onto the path which descends to the right towards the Col de Jou. At the 1st fork in the road, cross the small canal and turn right to follow the stream up towards Mariailles and the Moura hut. The path then runs more or less sideways through the forest before climbing up to pass over the next gorge. Continue slightly downhill to reach the torrent bed. The start is here, just below the footbridge.

Course 1h30 à 2h

This very watery canyon faces west. The equipment is impeccable, but you'll need a 2x40m rope for the 1st big waterfall (huge boulder across). The water is cold at the top, very cold even in summer. Thick wetsuits a must!

1st part

After a few small jumps where you can slide, the canyon really begins on a large, sloping waterfall with a huge boulder across it (40m rope required). Then under a boulder in a rotating slide, followed by a series of small slides and one or 2 small jumps. After a slide on the back of a boulder, there's a 2nd waterfall on the left bank (10m) then a 3rd on the right bank (10m) in a right-hand bend. The canyon becomes a little more steep and narrow from this point onwards.
Part 2

Onwards with an alternation of small jumps and short, inclined slides before reaching, with a handrail on the left bank, a beautiful multi-jet cascade (abseil 10m approx.) followed by a passage swimming under a very amusing rock. Further on, some nice winding slides before reaching the narrow, final part of the canyon.
Part 3

A long handrail on the left bank brings you to a belay point just at the edge of the waterfall, which marks a sharp bend to the left and where you can take a seated "eject" slide, followed by 2 smaller slides that form a beautiful sequence of waterfalls and finish in a large basin (otherwise, abseiling is possible to avoid the jump). Just beyond this is the famous "Catalan roulette", a very fast slide which ends on a rock, so you may have to take it roped up or go round to the right. Further on, there's a final waterfall with a huge trunk at the bottom, which you can either climb back to or avoid to the left (handrail). A few dozen metres more and we're at the end of the descent.

Back

A cairn on the left indicates a path which is a little lost, but which generally follows the bed of the torrent that we cross a 1st time to finally reach a small viewpoint overlooking the famous cascades of Cady, impassable (not equipped). Then follow the yellow-marked path back to the lower parking lot, near the water catchment house.

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