Cascade du Ray-Pic

Ardeche / Pereyres, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

About Cascade du Ray-Pic


Hiking Distance: 1.5km round trip
Suggested Time: 45-60 minutes

Date first visited: 2012-05-10
Date last visited: 2012-05-10

Waterfall Latitude: 44.79203
Waterfall Longitude: 4.26827

The Cascade du Ray-Pic ([RAY-peek]; “Ray Peak Falls”) was one of the more intriguing waterfalls we’ve seen.

What made the roughly 60m falls interesting was that it was accompanied by prominent yet contorted basalt columns.

Ray-Pic_037_20120509 - Cascade du Ray-Pic
Cascade du Ray-Pic

The last time we saw waterfalls with such obviously conspicuous basalt features was in Iceland (namely Svartifoss and Litlanesfoss).

However, the Ray Peak waterfall also exhibited some geologic movement which gave rise to the bending of the basalt columns to the point that we could see the cross section of the columns to the upper left of the main waterfall.

Our understanding of geology suggested that typically, basalt columns were indicative of the history of lava of a particular composition being rapidly cooled and solidified by ice.

According to the signs, this was said to have occurred some 35,000 years ago.

Ray-Pic_005_20120509 - Partial look down at the upper drops of the Cascade du Ray-Pic from the Belvedere du Ray-Pic
Partial look down at the upper drops of the Cascade du Ray-Pic from the Belvedere du Ray-Pic

It was this geology that also caused the closure of the access to the base of the falls due to the rock fall danger from the overhanging basalt cliffs (most photos of the falls out in the literature were from this forbidden area).

Experiencing Cascade du Ray-Pic

We were there when they pretty much finished a new walkway that avoided the base of the falls altogether and it allowed us to see the Cascade du Ray-Pic from a pair of lookout platforms.

In high flow, the main waterfall can be accompanied by a thinner (but also impressive in its own right) waterfall.

It was difficult to capture both waterfalls in one photo from the base, but one of the new overlooks gave us a pretty good view of both falls together.

Ray-Pic_020_20120509 - Closer examination of the basalt columns flanking the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Closer examination of the basalt columns flanking the Cascade du Ray-Pic

However, in the late morning, we had to look against the sun from this vantage point.

So perhaps this may suggest that early to late afternoon may be better suited for viewing the Cascade du Ray-Pic from the better of the two official lookouts.

Walking to Cascade du Ray-Pic

From the official car park (see directions below), it took us about 15 minutes to walk to the overlook platforms.

It took us about an hour and 15 minutes to do the entire excursion including all the photo taking and relaxing.

Ray-Pic_082_20120509 - Context of the newly-built steps leading down to the official lookout for the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Context of the newly-built steps leading down to the official lookout for the Cascade du Ray-Pic

The trail was fairly easy without too much elevation change except for the end when we descended towards the lookouts down some steps.

Although this is not recommended and only if you’re willing to take risks while disobeying the signs, it is possible to hop the railing and continue on an old, steep trail towards the base of both of the Cascade du Ray-Pic waterfalls.

However if you do this, you need to be fully aware of the rock fall risks and understand why the authorities chose to close this means of access in the first place.

In other words, your safety and your choices are solely your responsibility.

Ray-Pic_067_20120509 - View of both main waterfalls of the Cascade du Ray-Pic from the sanctioned lookout
View of both main waterfalls of the Cascade du Ray-Pic from the sanctioned lookout

That said, we did take some photos and videos from the base, which you can see further down this page.

Another way to experience Cascade du Ray-Pic?

One last thing worth mentioning is that we apparently stumbled onto a different trail leading to Cascade du Ray-Pic when we were driving away from here towards the natural bridge known as Pont d’Arc.

This alternate trailhead (though I suspect it only led to the car park and didn’t provide a truly alternate access) was near an arched road bridge.

This spot featured a small cascade near it before following the stream along a sun-drenched gorge going in the upstream direction.

Authorities

The Cascade du Ray-Pic resides in the municipality of Pereyres in the Ardeche department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes province (formerly just Rhone-Alpes) of France. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their tourism board website.

Ardeche_002_20120509 - Pretty rural scenery while driving en route to the falls
Ray-Pic_010_20120509 - Julie on the trail to Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_014_20120509 - Looking ahead at the trail to Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_016_20120509 - View from the lookout nearest to the base of the Cascade du Ray-Pic which left a lot to be desired
Ray-Pic_017_20120509 - The trail leading to the base of Cascade du Ray-Pic, which appeared to now be unsanctioned as the new trail blocked this access off
Ray-Pic_024_20120509 - The smaller waterfall of the Cascade du Ray-Pic as seen from its shadowy base
Ray-Pic_043_20120509 - Close-up look from the base of the larger of the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_054_20120509 - Cascade du Ray-Pic seen in full context with its surrounding basalt columns
Ray-Pic_062_20120509 - steps leading down to that better lookout
Ray-Pic_061_20120509 - One of the lookouts to check out the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_063_20120509 - Just looking at the main Cascade du Ray-Pic from one of the sanctioned lookouts
Ray-Pic_065_20120509 - Looking down at a different lookout platform with a better view of the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_083_20120510 - Julie walking back to the trailhead after having had her fill of the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_087_20120510 - After leaving Cascade du Ray-Pic, we descended towards a bridge that had an alternate but longer trail leading back to the car park for it via a gorge walk
Ray-Pic_088_20120510 - Context of part of a gorge walk with the creek further downstream from what I believe to be the same one that had the Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_093_20120510 - Contextual view upstream towards a side cascade that I believe to be well downstream of the Cascade du Ray-Pic as we were driving deeper into the Ardeche Region
Ray-Pic_094_20120510 - Closer look at that cascade on what I believe to be an alternate trail to Cascade du Ray-Pic
Ray-Pic_097_20120510 - Arched road bridge by the alternate trailhead to Cascade du Ray-Pic

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The rather off-the-beaten-path Cascade du Ray-Pic is said to be near the mountain village of Péreyres in the Ardèche department of the Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France.

There’s a lookout (Belvedere du Ray-Pic) as well as a car park further downhill from it, both of which are along the D215 between the communities of Burzet and Lachamp Raphaël.

Ray-Pic_009_20120509 - The roadside Belvedere du Ray-Pic
The roadside Belvedere du Ray-Pic

Since we were staying in Lyon, we’ll describe the detailed driving directions as follows.

We left Lyon on the autoroute A7 going south through Valence and eventually leaving the autoroute A7 at the D104N exit between Loriol-sur-Drome and Le Pouzin.

We then headed west on the D104 road for about 28km before keeping right onto the D122 road.

Then, we followed the D122 for the next 28km when we then turned left onto the D215 at Lachamp Raphaël.

Ray-Pic_085_20120510 - They didn't quite finish the car park when we arrived at the Cascade du Ray-Pic, but this would have been the place to park and start walking
They didn’t quite finish the car park when we arrived at the Cascade du Ray-Pic, but this would have been the place to park and start walking

Then, for the final 7km or so, we followed this road to both the overlook as well as the signposted trailhead a short distance thereafter near a hairpin turn.

Overall, we did this as part of a long out-and-back day trip, but this part of the drive took us a little over 2.5 hours one-way.

Finally, for a bit of geographical context, the city of Lyon was 466km or at least 4.5 hours by car from Paris.

However, we used the very fast and efficient TGV (high speed train or le train a grande vitesse), which wound up taking around 3 hours to cover this distance.

Focused on the pair of waterfalls from the lookout platform with the better view


Disappointing view from one of the lookout platforms


U-shaped sweep taking in both of the cascades as well as basalt columns from the forbidden base

Tagged with: ardeche, rhone-alpes, ray-pic, france, waterfall, lyon, basalt



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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