Every year in winter, the banks of the waterfalls of the Mauroul river at Saint-Julien are covered with snowdrops. When they stretch out their little heads depends on the weather conditions, but chances are high from mid-January to mid-February. Even without the lovely white flowers, it’s a beautiful walk, but they certainly add an extra touch of magic.
Usually, I don’t write about hikes in winter or short ones. So, you might wonder what’s so special about this small walk. Well, let me tell you in this post. The hamlet of Saint-Julien lies tucked away in the middle of the Parc du Haut-Languedoc, with a few small rivers flowing nearby. Right at the junction of the Tourré, Fontfrège and Mauroul streams, the height difference has created some beautiful waterfalls. And every year, thousands of snowdrops announce the arrival of spring. Just outside the hamlet, you will find a parking lot that is the starting point of the 1.5 kilometres trail. It’s a well-marked loop that will take about 45 minutes, excluding time to take pictures or a picnic. Even our kids thought this was doable!
Right at the start, there is the ‘Cascade du Roy’ (the king’s waterfall). Following the path, we went down some stairs. At the bottom, there was a sign pointing both left and right. We first went to the right, which brought us to the ‘marmite du sanglier’ (the wild boar’s kettle hole) and its waterfall. Even in winter, without the leaves on trees, this site looked very exotic to me. Going back to the two-ways-pointing sign, we then went in the opposite direction. We crossed a little bridge and followed the path to the ‘source ferrugineuse’ (iron water spring), clearly seeing a trace of the iron on the rocks. Although these two sidetracks were short (100 metres to the marmite du sanglier and 200 metres to the source ferrugineuse from the bridge), I wouldn’t want to have missed either site!
Back on track, we continued our way along the stream and the ‘cascade du Castan Rousset’. And finally, by crossing the ‘passerelle du héron’ (heron’s bridge), we spotted the first snowdrops! They brought me instant happiness with their delicate appearance. Luckily, there weren’t many people around, and the kids looked away, as I stretched out on the ground to get some pictures. It made me observe the flowers from up close, and it was only then that I noticed the tiny green upside-down heart on the smallest petals. Along the banks of the stream, there were even more snowdrops. Obviously, you can’t go into the middle of the field to admire them or take pictures. The flowers are very fragile and need to be respected.
I have to say that from the Passerelle du Héron to the next bridge, I mostly had an eye for the snowdrops. So, I only took a quick look at the Cascade du Gouffre Rampan. After this last bridge, there weren’t many snowdrops left. Therefore, we could fully admire the last waterfall, which is part of a local legend. In the time when elves and fairies inhabited the grounds of the Espinouse mountain range, there also lived an evil dragon. All of the people living at the Espinouse were afraid of this creature hidden in a cave. They asked the Gods for a solution in return for promising to be kind and hospitable. So, the Gods transformed the dragon into a rock, while the adjacent stream became a waterfall: the ‘Cascade du Dragon de l’Espinouse’. It was a great conclusion to our short walk!