Lac de l'Hivernet

Lac de l'Hivernet

Lake and glacier
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In a green setting, this route offers many and varied landscapes: forest: rock, meadows and, finally, the Lac de l'Hivernet.
Serre-Ponçon is another high-altitude lake, like the Lac de l'Hivernet which lies at 2,400 metres above sea level, below the Tête de l'Hivernet mountain. The ascent initially leads through a shaded larch forest abounding with wild species. Then a second, more challenging section rises up a steep sunny slope, below rock bars of curious geological shape. Your efforts will be rewarded with your arrival at the lake.


From the car park, turn right onto the track.

  1. When you come to the Chalet des Fontainiers (after the cabin), turn left towards the « lac de l'Hivernet » via « Pré Clos » and « Pierre Pointue ».
  2. At the next intersection, turn right. 
  3. When you reach Pré Clos, turn right towards the Lac de l'Hivernet. 
  4. At the next intersection, continue straight ahead.
  5. At the gate, carry on straight ahead. Continue along the path until you reach the Lac de l'Hivernet. When you return to the gate, turn left towards the Cabane de l'Aiguille. Go past the the front of the Cabane de L'Aiguille and follow the track on the right which leads to the Chalet des Fontainiers.
  • Departure : Forest car park, Embrun
  • Arrival : Embrun
  • Towns crossed : Embrun

10 points of interest

  • Flora

    The larch

    The king of mountain trees in the Southern Alps, the larch is the only conifer to drop its needles in winter. In spring, its cones are a characteristic dark purple. The larch is one of the few European tree species that is imputrescible, that is to say, it does not rot. This is why, despite the fact that it twists as it dries out, it is widely use in frameworks, drinking troughs and other water holding vessels in the mountain villages. Incapable of germinating in its own undergrowth, it needs natural openings such as avalanche corridors for the young shoots to develop. It is found at altitudes in excess of 2,200 metres, adopting dwarf forms in these "combat" zones. The larch tree growing at this point on the trail is several hundred years old.
  • Pastoralism

    Woodland grazing

    The Embrun communal forest reconciles forestry and pastoral objectives. This 646 ha larch forest consists of a light wood enabling the growth of forage crops. 1200 sheep and 150 cows graze in one of the most beautiful larch forests in the Hautes-Alpes. This forest which protects the lower slopes from avalanches, from mud slides and from falling stones is a lovely example of a multifunctional forest where the production of wood for timber or for heating, coexists with grazing and for the general appreciation of the public.

  • Flora

    common nettle

    Called the common nettle, this is a stinging plant. During difficult times in history – the Middle Ages or the world wars for instance, it was consumed to help survive periods of famine and scarcity. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, it is highly effective health cure and is taken as a soup, and added ingredient to various other dishes or as a soft drink. Apart from this usage, in the sixteenth century it was put to industrial use, in the manufacture of paper, garments etc.
  • Flora

    Dyer’s Woad

    Punctuating the edges of the paths, this green and blue-green biennial, is also known as « Saint Philippe’s herb ». A large robust plant topped with a parasol of yellow flowers, it has many uses. While its leaves provide a blue dye used to colour clothes, façades and carts (the famous « blue cart » which had the virtue of repelling flies), its roots are used against the mumps, infectious hepatitis, sore throat or the fever.

  • Flora

    Meadow buttercup

    More commonly called the buttercup, this is a very familiar flower. It flowers from May to September, and commonly grows in grasslands and the edges of tracks. Its stems and leaves are slightly hairy. It is seldom eaten by livestock because it is toxic, and it only loses its toxicity when dried. This plant is a member of the large family Ranunculaceae.
  • Fauna

    The roe deer

    Slender, agile and quick-footed, the roe deer is very shy but leaves the imprint of its delicate hooves in the snow or mud, right up to the alpine zone. It can also be identified by its loud "vocalisation" because it utters a loud bark when disturbed. In the half-light, they are sometimes given away by their "mirror", the white mark under their tails, heart-shaped in the does and bean-shaped in the stags. When very young, the fawn is covered in white spots which camouflage it. This «bambi» very often lies concealed in the grass. If you see one, don't touch it. It hasn't been abandoned.
  • Flora


    Called dandelion (from the French dent de lion - lion's tooth) with reference to its toothed leaves. Although despised by gardeners, this plant is actually a valuable ally. The use of the dandelion as a medicinal plant goes back to Ancient Greece. Young dandelion leaves are served as a salad or blanched like spinach. The flowers were traditionally used to make a wine reputed to be fortifying and they can also be infused in a sugar syrup, creating a kind of honey-like jam called cramaillotte.
  • Flora

    Spring gentian

    A member of the family of small perennial gentians, this gentian has a deep blue flower and can be recognised by its short stem bearing one or two pairs of opposing leaves. It can be identified in particular by its pointed leaves grouped in a rosette at the base, at least twice as long as they are wide. It is a plant capable of adapting to a very wide altitude range, from the hill level to the alpine level..
  • Flora

    Mountain holly fern

    This species of fern develops its leaves in the spring. Its foliage is semi-evergreen and it is quite hardy, capable of withstanding frosts down to -20°C. The fern is one of the earliest plants to appear on earth.
  • Flora

    Creeping thyme

    A member of the large family of thymes, the creeping thyme has been known for its medicinal virtues since ancient times. It is a perennial plant whose stems spread across the ground. The flowers are grouped into spikes and are produced from June to October. It grows in dry habitats and can be found at altitudes of up to 2,400 metres. This plant is ideal taken as a tisane, for easing a cough and keeping the bronchial tubes clear.


Altimetric profile


Note that the Lac de l'Hivernet is not fed with water all year round, as is the case during the summer period.

Information desks

Tourist office Embrun

Place Général Dosse - BP 49, 05202 Embrun

October to march : Monday to Saturday, 9.00 - 12.30 & 13.30 - 17.00. 
April, may, june & september : Monday to Saturday, 9.00 - 12.30 & 14.30 - 18.00
July and August : Monday to Saturday, 9.00 - 19.00. Sundays, 10.00 - 12.30 & 16.00 - 19.00

On French national holidays (except 14th of July and 15th of August) : 9am to 1pm. Closed on the 1st of January, 1st of May, 25th December and 11th November
Closed on Thursdays outside French holidays’ periods

Find out more


Public transport:
Consider car-sharing:

Access and parking

From the train station in Embrun, head uphill towards the top of the town, cross the railway line and then follow signs for Caleyère until you reach this hamlet. Then follow signs to the entrances into the forest ("Portes de la Forêt").

Parking :

Forest car park, road terminus, Embrun


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