Lake Quirlies

Lake Quirlies

Lake and glacier
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A wonderful hike in the Ferrand valley, between the Grandes Rousses mountain range and the Emparis plateau to reach a lake that appeared only recently after the retreat of the glacier.

The impetuous Ferrand bridge waterfall sets the scene. There is running water everywhere, irrigating the pastures that thousands of sheep will graze on during the summer. The existence of carcasses means that it is an area well-known to vultures. Higher, the Suirelies glacier and the lake that is surrounded by granite moraines remind us of the high mountains, with a breathtaking viewpoint over the immense Emparis plateau, to the boundaries of l'Isère and La Savoie.


Follow the Sarenne pass road above Clavans-en-haut-Oisans to reach the hamlet of Perron. Park at the information board of the classified site of Le Ferrand. Before leaving with you rucksack, take a look at the house that is backed against the rock.
 Set off on the signed footpath to get to the Ferrand footbridge and the majestic waterfall. Head up the wide track overlooking it, then cross another footbridge that leads progressively into a very green valley by staying on the right bank of the stream. The footpath then takes a pleasant route crossing many small streams coming from the higher valleys. Walk successively past the footpath that leads to Clos Chevaleret (a hike for another day), the Bruyères pastoral hut and close to a sheep pen and the bottom of the valley. On this large flat terrain, you will need to cross the stream to head further up to  Pierre de l'Oiseau. Leaving the footpath to the Sauvage summit to the right, turn left to follow the one that leads up to the lake. This route is only ice-free as of mid-July. The return trip is made by the same itinerary up to Le Perron.

  • Departure : Le Perron (Clavans-le-Haut)
  • Towns crossed : Clavans-en-Haut-Oisans

8 points of interest

  • Architecture

    The house under the rock

    Ingenious setting for a house backed up against the rock for protection in the case of an avalanche. The hamlet, that used to be inhabited all year round, now has mainly holiday homes. The surrounding fields are no longer mowed as they were previously and a herd of cattle more or less maintain the open landscape.
  • Water

    The Ferrand bridge waterfall

    This is an impressive waterfall that reunites all of the Ferrand valley waters. Even when water levels are low, the water flow is still high as the glaciers on the east side of the Grandes Rousses provide a constant flow to the streams.
  • Pastoralism

    The Bruyère sheepfold

    Pastoralism is omnipresent in the entire valley due to the variety of grasses that grow on loose soil made up mostly of shale. 20 000 sheep graze on this vast area during the summer.
  • Fauna

    Bird's stone

    A name that makes you think of the frequent position of the wheatear as it searches for grasshoppers The wheatear is a migratory sparrow that waits until the snow has melted before settling in the pastures. It builds its nest in a small hole in the ground or under turf and rears its chicks before September.
  • Panorama

    View from the spillway of the Quirlies lake

    A halt at the lake's spillway enables you to take in the wide open landscape from the Aiguilles d'Arves to the Mont-de-Lans glacier or the Meije massif. At the lowest stage, the immense green cover waves its way across a more gentle relief due to the shale soil.
  • Glacier

    The Quirlies glacier

    The Quirlies glacier went right down to the lake up until the 1990s. Due to climate disturbance it has retreated considerably leaving the entire lake visible today. You will notice the moraines that were left as the glacier retreated. Life is quickly renewed on such moraines, particularly with plants that are well-adapted such as moss campion and creeping avens.
  • Water

    The Quirlies lake mineralogy

    Jade and turquoise waters are characteristic of lakes that are said to be proglacial. It contains fine silica particles that make up a "glacial powder" suspended in the water, as a result of the overlooking glacier eroding the granite base.
  • Water

    Lake Quirlies

    This is one of the most recent lake of the Oisans area. It only appeared in the 1960s as a consequence of the melting glacier. It is true that topographical maps edited before then do not mention it. We can only imagine how far the glacier has retreated over the last 50 years.


Altimetric profile

Information desks

Oisans Park house

Rue Gambetta, 38520 Le Bourg d'Oisans 76 80 00 51

Video presentation of the natural resources of the Oisans mountain and its crafts. Information, documentation about the Park, projections, reading space for children. Accessible to people with reduced mobility. Free admission. All animations of the Park are free unless otherwise stated.

Find out more

Access and parking

At the Chambon dam (N91: Bourg-d'Oisans>Col du Lautaret) turn onto the D 25 go past Mizoën then Clavans-le-Bas and Clavant-le-Haut as far as Perron. From l'Alpe-d'Huez, in the summer, follow the Sarenne road beyond the aerodrome. Go over the pass and down into the Ferrand valley as far as Perron.

Parking :

Parking du Peron, Clavans-le-Haut


Parc national des Ecrins

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