7 reasons to visit the Pyrenees: #4 Forest and mountain trails
This article is part of our seven-part series which showcases how we'd love to share the Spanish Pyrenees with you. You can find an overview of all seven reasons here, or read on using the links after the article below. We hope you enjoy reading. Number four puts us back in our walking boots, in the forests and mountains of the high and low Pyrenees.
#4. Forest and mountain trails
If you are a walker, you’re going to be right at home in the Spanish Pyrenees. On just about any trip we could design for you here, you could easily spend most of your days out on mountain, forest or coastal trails, walking notes in hand.
We’ve already done a deep dive on the Ordesa Valley (reason one), but just a couple of valleys east you find yourself in altogether different alpine surrounds and another strong contender for best hiking country in Spain. Catalonia’s Aigüestortes National Park is named after its ‘twisted waters’; plunging waterfalls, crystalline mountain streams and glacial lakes which mirror the park’s distinctive black pines and granite towers. If you’re here in the early summer, the rhododendron blossom is a sight to savour.
Coming off of the big mountains and dropping into the Pyrenean foothills, our scenery changes, but the feeling of wilderness and untamed nature holds firm. We’re now in the precious Irati Forest, whose expanse of beech and fir trees rolls out unchecked by civilisation, all the way up to France. This is one of Europe’s great forests and is an absolutely beautiful place to go walking. It comes alive in autumn, offering one of the best symphonies of amber and orange hues on the entire Iberian Peninsula.
We encourage you to combine a morning hike in the forest with an afternoon amble to the deep ravines of Arbayún, nestled in a landscape of oak woodland and wide valleys. These cliffs and the surrounding forests are rich in birdlife and the viewpoint is an ideal place to watch birds of prey circling.
Along with Ordesa, you’ve already had four memorable walks briefly sketched out. There are more we want to share; a unique formation of red sedimentary rocks where vultures and eagles nest by the hundreds, extinct volcanic cones covered in thick beech forest and ‘Dalí's’ rocky headland, where the Pyrenees sink into the sea. For more on those, it’s probably best you take a look at this Pyrenees self-drive itinerary, which combines everything you’ve read here. If it's of interest, let us know and we'll send all the details.