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Hiking trail

Orbey Loop Walk

Hiking trail · Alsace
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Sunset in Kaysersberg
    / Sunset in Kaysersberg
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • Sacre-Couer Statue Overlooking Orbey
    / Sacre-Couer Statue Overlooking Orbey
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • View to Lac Blanc
    / View to Lac Blanc
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • Lac Noir
    / Lac Noir
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
Map / Orbey Loop Walk
600 900 1200 1500 m km 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18

Starting and finishing in Orbey, this loop walk climbs high into the Vosges mountains, passing winter ski pistes, Alpine pastures and the lakes of Lac Noir and Lac Blanc - and the nature reserve that surrounds them.

difficult
19.4 km
6:30 h
864 m
864 m

From Orbey, a short bus ride from Kaysersberg, the path begins to climb more than 800 vertical metres through Vosges Regional Park. This large elevation change allows you to see the great diversity of this mountain range, and the impact it has on the people who live there. Long gone are the vineyards, which cannot live at these heights or survive the winter frosts, and replacing them is pastoral farmland and native woodland. As you reach the higher altitudes around Col du Calvaire (1134 metres) ski pistes and ski-lifts carve channels through the woodland, hinting at the makeover that takes places each winter.

The most pleasant surprise of the walk is as you enter the ‘Two Lakes Biological Reserve’. Your view is dominated by the sprawling glacial cirques of Lac Blanc and Lac Noir – White Lake and Black Lake - far below you. But, from this lofty vantage point your view extends far beyond the lakes, stretching through the textured folds of the Vosges mountains, across the Alsatian Plain and to Germany’s Black Forest.

As you begin to descend you will pass through the same environments in reverse; woodland, pasture, and eventually the welcoming village of Orbey, from where you can return to Kaysersberg by bus.

Author’s recommendation

The buses run at irregular intervals, with the last suitable bus before 9am, and the final return bus to Kayserberg around 6pm. Check the schedule before embarking on this walk - https://www.fluo.eu/ftp/documents_CG68/fluo-grand-est-68-ligne-145.pdf

Ask your hotel for the nearest bus stop to you.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Josiah Skeats
Updated: August 15, 2019

Difficulty
difficult
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
1275 m
Lowest point
489 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.

There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.

Some of the path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

Equipment

Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage on some of these ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.

Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Sacre-Couer Statue

The Sacre-Couer or Sacred Heart statue depicts Jesus with his arms open and embracing. It has stood atop a hill overlooking Orbey and providing comfort to the residents since 1933. In 1934 there was a collapse at the hydroelectric plant of Lac Noir which killed 9 workers; locals gave thanks to the Sacre-Couer statue that the disaster wasn’t worse.

 

Deux Lacs (Two Lakes)

Lac Blanc (White Lake) and Lac Noir (Black Lake) make up the so-called Deux Lacs region. Both are glacial and naturally-formed, though have been adapted to generate hydroelectric power. Despite Lac Blanc being 100 metres higher, they are connected by a pipeline; when energy demands are low, electricity is pumped up to Lac Blanc, so that when energy demands are high, gravity returns that water to Lac Noir and generates electricity.

 

Food and Drink

After leaving Orbey you will reach the Refuge du Lac Blanc after 6.3 kilometres, a restaurant on the Col du Calvaire after 7 kilometres, and a restaurant on the shore of Lac Noir after 13.5 kilometres.

There are several opportunities to enjoy a picnic throughout the walk, if you come prepared with your own provisions.

Start

Mairie Bus Stop, Orbey (488 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
48.126294, 7.159838
UTM
32U 363069 5331975

Destination

Mairie Bus Stop, Orbey

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Catch the bus from Kaysersberg to Orbey. This will cost around 3 euros and take 20 minutes. Please note that at the time of writing (August 2019) the final suitable bus was at 08:54 AM – after which there is a 3 hour gap until the next one! You can find the full bus schedule here; https://www.fluo.eu/ftp/documents_CG68/fluo-grand-est-68-ligne-145.pdf

0.00km – After alighting from the bus in Orbey at the Mairie bus stop, start by facing the Tourist Information Office and Hotel de Ville. TURN LEFT to walk alongside the road, soon passing a pharmacy on your right.

0.30km – As the road bends left beside a crucifix, TURN RIGHT onto Rue de la Place. As the road opens out into a square after 100 metres, BEAR RIGHT.

0.70km – As the road forks around a small crucific, BEAR RIGHT to continue walking with the stream on your right and following the footpath sign to Lac Blanc.

1.10km – BEAR LEFT to cross the zebra crossing (black-and-white road markings) and then follow the track heading uphill into the woodland. Once again there is a signpost to Lac Blanc.

1.50km – As you emerge at a paved road, you will see the footpath continues on the far side. However, at the time we were preparing this trip the footpath was blocked with electric fences after 100 metres. If this is the case, then TURN LEFT and walk uphill on the road following the sign to Saint-Genest, to begin a short detour.

1.90km – As you reach the church of Saint-Genest, it is worth taking the short detour to visit the statue of Sacre-Coeur and enjoy the viewpoint to Orbey. From the church, BEAR RIGHT to continue heading uphill along the road, ignoring a downhill left turn.

2.30km – This is where our detour rejoins the original footpath. As the road bends right near a stone crucifix, BEAR LEFT onto an uphill footpath through the woods, signposted to Blanc Rupt.

2.50km – TURN LEFT as you emerge onto a paved road. Remain on this road for 600 metres.

3.10km – As the path forks beside a building with a loading ramp to the roof, BEAR RIGHT following the blue rectangle icons and ignoring the left turn to Prebracot. As the road bends sharply right after 30 metres, BEAR LEFT following the sign to Blanc Rupt and Lac Blanc.

3.60km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON along the rocky path following the blue rectangle icons.

4.10km – As you emerge from the woodland onto a dirt road, BEAR RIGHT to continue heading uphill.

4.60km – At the house with a loading ramp to the second floor, BEAR LEFT from the dirt road to walk along the rocky track through woodland.

5.10km – Having reached a crossroads after passing under the overhead lines, TURN RIGHT to pass under the overhead lines again. Keep following the blue rectangle - and now also the blue ring icon -  which lead uphill towards the scattered farmhouses.

5.80km – TURN LEFT at the paved road to walk towards the overhead lines. After 500 metres you will approach Refuge de Lac Blanc where you can enjoy some refreshments. Just before reaching the restaurant, TURN RIGHT to walk uphill on the dirt road. There will immediately be two right turns; ignore the first, and then TURN RIGHT following the red ring icon. BEAR LEFT as this path immediately forks.

6.50km – BEAR RIGHT as the path forks under the overhead lines. After 50 metres, TURN LEFT. There are red ring icons to guide you at both junctions.

6.60km – TURN LEFT to walk along the dirt road.

7.00km – As you reach the roundabout and main road, you are now on Col du Calvaire (1134 metres elevation). BEAR LEFT to cross the main road and pass to the left of Restaurant des Crêtes. As this track splits into three after 20 metres, TURN LEFT to head uphill towards a ski-tow lift and a wooden hut. This path will continue across ski pistes and beside ski-tow lifts.

7.70km – TURN RIGHT to walk along the wide, root-exposed path, following the red ring and red rectangle icons. You are now entering the dedicated biological reserve of the two lakes.

7.90km – BEAR LEFT as the path forks, following the red ring icon to Lac Noir. Ignore the right fork with the red rectangle icons. Soon you will begin enjoying wonderful views to Lac Blanc on your left.

9.10km – At the picnic bench, BEAR LEFT to continue following the red ring icons to Lac Noir, and keeping Lac Blanc on your left.

9.60km – As you reach the boulder-strewn viewpoint of Rocher Hans, TURN RIGHT. Stop following the red ring icon and instead begin following the yellow cross to Lac Noir and Observ Bellmont.

9.90km – At Observ Bellmont, TURN RIGHT to begin heading downhill. After 100 metres, as you emerge onto a wider dirt road, TURN RIGHT to head uphill, following the blue circle to Source Lac Noir. Note that you must ignore the left turn which also has the blue circle icon.

11.60km – You will pass a small stream which is recognised as the Source of the Lac Noir lake. After 100 metres, TURN LEFT at the junction, following signs to Lac Noir.

11.80km – TURN LEFT at the crossroads, following the blue circle to Lac Noir.

12.80km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over a gravel road, resuming the downhill footpath on the other side. After 300 metres CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON over a second road.

13.40km – As you emerge onto the road by Lac Noir, BEAR LEFT to cross the bridge over the stream towards Restaurant du Lac Noir. Once over the bridge, TURN RIGHT to walk along the road.

13.50km - Just after passing a wooden hut on your right, and a heli-pad on your left, TURN RIGHT from the road to descend on a rocky track, following the icon of a white rectangle in a red rectangle towards Orbey. After 100 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON heading downhill, ignoring vehicle tracks on your left. 

14.30km – Upon reaching a gravel layby and picnic area, TURN RIGHT. As you reach the paved road after 100 metres, BEAR LEFT diagonally across the road to follow a small footpath into the woods, signposted to Orbey. You must immediately cross a stream using stepping-stones; bear in mind these stones may be slippery, especially when wet.

14.70km – Upon reaching a paved road, TURN LEFT. After 100 metres, shortly after passing the driveway to a large house, TURN LEFT onto a footpath that runs along the outskirts of the property.

15.10km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over a paved road and resume the grassy track on the far side. Upon reaching a major paved road after 200 metres, TURN LEFT to continue heading downhill. There is a section on the left side of the road allocated for walkers and cyclists.

15.40km – TURN LEFT opposite the wooden bus stop and by the green-and-white zebra crossing/road markings. You are still following the red and white rectangle icons to Orbey.

15.70km – BEAR RIGHT as the road forks to head towards the camping ground. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON as the road becomes gravel and then after 100 metres, as the road ends, TURN RIGHT to head downhill along the edge of the fields.

16.10km – At the church and cemetery, TURN LEFT to walk along the paved road. After 100 metres, TURN RIGHT onto the footpath, following the red and white rectangle icon.

16.60km – As you reach the gravel driveway near a campsite, BEAR RIGHT to cross over and resume the grassy footpath on the far side.

16.80km – BEAR LEFT as you emerge onto a paved road, then after 20 metres, BEAR LEFT onto the worn grassy tracks heading into the woodland. There are still regular icons and signposts to guide you.

17.10km – BEAR RIGHT to cross the stream at a stone bridge, and then CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON following the vehicle tracks across the field and through the woodland.

17.60km – BEAR RIGHT as you reach a paved road. Remain on this road ignoring all side paths.

18.00km – BEAR LEFT as the road forks beside the stone crucifix.

18.70km – As you reach a junction with a stone crucifix on your left, you have rejoined where the path split earlier. BEAR RIGHT to head downhill with the small stream on your left, and return to Orbey Centre.

19.40km – Finish at the Mairie Bus Stop in Orbey and return to Kaysersberg by bus. Please note that in the evening the bus may stop via Le Bonhomme and Lapoutroie, which increases the journey time to 40 minutes - if this is the case, don't be alarmed as the bus goes in the wrong direction initially! As of the time of writing, the final bus from Orbey was at 18:06. Full timetable available here: https://www.fluo.eu/ftp/documents_CG68/fluo-grand-est-68-ligne-145.pdf

 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
difficult
Distance
19.4 km
Duration
6:30 h
Ascent
864 m
Descent
864 m

Statistics

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 km
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Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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