Recommended hiking routes
THE MINERS AND SMUGGLERS' PATHS
Level of difficulty: Low, elevation change: 360m
The route takes the visitor through Porcingles, Canejan and Pontaut allowing him to walk around some of the wildest valleys in the area. The level of difficulty is low and it is easily done in just under 2 hours.
The itinerary will take you back in time as it goes along the tracks used in the past as a main smugglers route. It was also the quickest way out to France for those taking the mineral coming from the Liat mines, located at 2300 m above sea level, via a 14 km long aerial cable all the way to Pontaut.
The astonishing view point found on the old track from Porcingles to Canejan, allows you to see Era Lana of Les and the peak Maladeta far away at the back. All this represents a big contrast with the thick forests and shaded spots down in the Toran Valley, the impressive beech forest under the black pine trees all under the shelter of Montlude (2518 m).
This is a track along a great deal of vegetation, such as ash trees, oak trees, maple trees, lime trees, cherry trees and wild rose bushes. The route starts in Porcingles and finishes in Pontaut.
Level of difficulty: Low, elevation change: 200m
The route goes through Beret, Montgarri's Sanctuary and Montgarri. The level of difficulty is low and it can be done in 3h and 30 min. The itinerary starts in Plan de Beret, old scenery for witches and sorcerers covens. It is a large plateau located at 1850 m above sea level.
The walk takes the hiker down along the Noguera Pallaresa River and as it gets lower it goes into a black pine tree forest. As it goes pass by the former Es de Cabau hut, the itinerary will remind you of the last inhabitants who had to leave in the 1960s due to the extremelly hard weather conditions.
The arrival at Montgarri's Sanctuary is breathtaking, surrounded by forests and meadows by the peaceful Noguera Pallaresa. From here the route goes up along a track which is a bit dark in parts but in better condition and much more used, above all during the summer months. The route continues through Mor and Dossau forests until it gets to Plan de Beret.
LIFE IN THE OLD TIMES AROUND THE VALLEY
Level of difficulty: Medium, elevation change: 310m
This medium difficulty itinerary goes through grazing land, with huts at amazing spots which will remind the hiker of life in the old times around the Aran Valley, depending on the land and its resources. The itinerary goes through Les Bausen and can be done in just under 3 hours.
The route starts in Les and goes along the road GR211-2 towards the Bausen pass. As the itinerary goes up, it is possible to see the Escalèr hut, one of the very last authentic huts, as well as the bridge over the Bausen River and a wonderful forest with hazelnut trees and beech trees.
The village of Bausen is a peaceful place worth visiting and at the same time, the visitor will be glad to be able to have a rest after such a long climb. The route to go back to the starting point of the itinerary takes the hiker down the old track all the way to the Garona River and then following again the GR211 road going round Era Lana de Les.
GIANT FIR TREES IN VALARTIES
Level of difficulty: Medium, elevation change: 185m
This itinerary starts and finishes in Arties, it takes about 1h and 30 min and it is suitable for the great majority of people. Along the route there are lots of different signs explaining everything about the wonderful trees we can find during the walk.
At the Loseron cabin (at 1630m above sea level), surrounded by alpine meadows covered by beautiful flowers, there is a sign explaining the route that should be followed and by checking the colours we'll find the direction for the giant fir trees. The sign also shows you how to easily measure the trees height. But not only the trees along the route are astonishing, there are also some other enormous and gorgeous fir and pine trees just if we come out of the track a bit.
The begining of the route back to the starting point is quite fun but at the same time roughand after a while, we'll find the original track. This route takes you back to the bridge, close to the Loseron cabin where we found the first sign.
THE ROUTE OF THE 7 VILLAGES
Level of difficulty: High, elevation change: 580m
This itinerary goes along the 7 villages situated in the area known as Terçon de Lairissa (Es Bòrdes-Arrò-Arres de Jos-Arres de Sus-Vilamòs-Begós-Benós). It takes approximately 4h and the hiker will be able to discover the oldest and less populated villages in the Aran Valley.
It starts at the Plaça dera Glèisa in Es Bòrdes and along the itinerary we'll be able to see rustic houses and stables, old slate roofs, fountains, troughs... There is a varied vegetation all along the route, as we pass by the overgrown oak forest of Artigaus, a hazelnut tree forest in Manhaits or some small valleys surrounded by cherry trees and wild pine trees and ferns forests in Uishèra.
There are breathtaking views over the Artiga de Lin Valley, the Madaleta mountain range and the Sarrat dera Entecada as we go along the route. And it is also possible to enjoy a guided visit to the Glèisa de Santa María de Vilamós, the Ecomusèu Joanchiquet, the trough and the whitewash oven.
LAKES AT THE COLOMÈRS CIRQUE
Level of difficulty: High, elevation change: 360m
This itinerary takes the hiker to discover 7 different lakes at the Colomèrs cirque, a mountain range giving shelter to around 50 lakes, “estanhs”. The glacier lakes were created when the snow disappeared from the “glacier cirque”, leaving large basins dug by the ice erosion and covered by the lakes.
This slow but efficient ice erosion during glacier times left a breathtaking landscape not easily found anywhere else. Just getting to the refuge makes it worth the effort. The surrounding area is a typical high mountain scenery with high and sheer peaks of about 3000 m above sea level, such as Creu de Colomèrs, Gran Tuc de Colomèrs and Tuc de Ratera. The proposed itinerary is a round route passing by the lakes situated closer to the Colomèrs Cirque, linking 7 very different lakes: Estanh dera Lòssa-Estanh Major- Estanh de Colomèrs- Estanh Mort- Estanh Garguilhs de Jos- Estanh de Cabidornats- Estanh Long.
In this area, there are big granite blocks located at isolated places which were moved by the glacier. A typical plant found in the area is the gentian; it is a purple coloured plant which extends the roots underground and although, the first flower of the plant takes 12 years to come out, the plant itself gives lots of flowers spread all over. Another plant found in this area is the monkshood; it is extremelly toxic and can be lethal even in very small dossis. In the old times it would be used as painkiller in poultices for rheumatism and gout.