Hut-to-Hut Hiking in the Pyrenees: The 4 Best Walks

By Sierd van der Bij

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Hut-to-Hut Hiking in the Pyrenees: The 4 Best Walks
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Hiking in the Pyrenees is the next best thing. Away from the busy trails in the Alps and upwards and onwards to some of the most pristine hiking trails and mountain huts Europe has to offer. With a little bit of French and a little bit of Spanish, the Pyrenees offers the best - and highest - of both. Hike from coast to coast, take it all in on Catalonia's highest peak or introduce your kids to the mountains in Aigüestortes. 

Everyone has heard of the Pyrenees. They are those other mountains in Europe, right? Yeah, somewhere between France and Spain. And isn't Andorra super mountainous as well? Not bad, not bad. That's right, the Pyrenees basically shape a natural border between France and Spain and right in the middle of everything, you can find the tiny mountain state of Andorra. When thinking about Spain or France, there may be other things coming to mind first. Not for us. When we think France, we think Refuge and when we think Spain, we think Refugi. Let's take you on the finest hut-to-hut hiking routes in the Pyrenees! 

Walks in the Pyrenees: A Lifetime Hobby or A Good Holiday

Before we start presenting the finest options for hiking in the Pyrenees, there is something you should know. By now, you already know that there are two sides to the Pyrenees. We have the French Pyrenees and then we obviously have the Spanish Pyrenees. The Spanish Pyrenees in the East are known as the Catalan Pyrenees. In the Catalan Pyrenees, you will find some of the most feasible hiking options. Here there are plenty of huts, rifugis in Catalan, and they can all be connected in the shape of for example a circuit or a point-to-point hike. 

However, it is also possible to hike entire GRs and basically hike from coast to coast. GR stands for Grande Randonnée and is a collective name for long-distance routes across Europe. Hiking these can be a lifetime hobby, whereas doing the shorter circuits allow for an awesome hiking holiday. In this blog post, because they are awesome, we will definitely mention the full GRs. Also, we will introduce you to the shorter more feasible hiking options. The latter we love so much, that we have made special offers for them. You can find them here

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1. Hiking the French Pyrenees: Pyrenean Way GR10

The GR10 is also known as the Pyrenean Way and is the French of the two GRs that go from Coast to Coast. We will talk about that other GR in the next paragraph. The route starts (or ends) at the coastal town of Hendaye on the Atlantic side and runs through the Pyrenees to Banyuls-Sur-Mer on the Mediterranean side. Although the route is almost 1,000 kilometres long and offers more than 50.000 metres of elevation, it is possible to hike the entire thing. It will just take you anything between 40 and 60 days to cover the entire route. Unless you have a very lenient boss, this can become a life project. 

The route is well-treatable between June and October. On both coasts, it is already possible to walk in April, but even at the end of May the trail still regularly crosses the snow line, which is then around 2,000 metres. The opening hours of the mountain huts and other facilities on the trail are adjusted accordingly, so few facilities are open until May. It is not possible to stay in mountain huts on the entire route. Be prepared for camping, if it is your dream to tackle this GR. Looking for self-guided treks on which you can stay in mountain huts? Keep reading. 

1. Hiking the French Pyrenees: Pyrenean Way GR10

2. Family-Friendly Spanish Pyrenees: Carros de Foc

Once started as a joke by local hut wardens to visit each other, the Carros de Foc has now grown into a world-renowned multi-day mountain trek that is mentioned in many a guidebook as one of the most beautiful multi-day hut-to-hut treks in Europe. You can find the Carros de Foc about 4 hours northwest of Barcelona, and because they are the Pyrenees after all, basically on the border with France. The route was created in 1987 when the caretakers of the refuges in Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici Park decided to visit each other's huts, resulting in a beautiful circular hike, connecting all the mountain huts, "Refugi" in Catalan, in the area. 

A great takeaway for Carros de Foc is that there is still this bond between the different refugis. The 9 huts are not only connected by 65 kilometres of trails, hikers are also able to collect stamps from each and every refugi, allowing for a great tangible memory to take home. The hike can be started at any of the participating refugis and you can choose your own pace and decide to stay in as many or few refugis as you wish. This makes the route not only appealing to seasoned hikers but also to families.

2. Family-Friendly Spanish Pyrenees: Carros de Foc

3. Porta Del Cel and the Highest Peak of the Catalan Pyrenees

Porta del Cel is Catalan for Heaven's Gate. In the Catalan Pyrenees, you can't higher than the Porta del Cel. This makes this trek an adventure for seasoned mountain goats. If you want a little piece of Catalan heaven, then the Porta del Cel with 65 kilometres and 11.000 vertical meters, is the hiking route to take. Just as the Carros de Foc, this is the Catalan side of Spain and the Pyrenees. Where the Carros de Foc already offers plenty of elevation, the Porta del Cel takes you much higher by adding in the 3,164-meter-high peak Pica d'Estats. This is the highest point of the Catalan Pyrenees. 

Not only do you climb the highest peak, but you are in the largest national park and see the largest mountain lake in Catalonia. In that respect, the Porta del Cel is truly a trek of superlatives. That largest national park is called Parc Natural de l'Alt Pirinieu and you will have some of the most beautiful views that not only Catalonia but also Spain has to offer. On the Porta del Cel you will definitely be hiking for at least 6 to 7 hours a day. During the final stage, you are even hiking for a bit longer than that. This, together with all the elevation, makes the Porta del Cel definitely a hike for seasoned mountain goats. If you are not new to hut-to-hut treks, multi-day hiking, and have your gear up to level, you could totally consider doing the Porta del Cel.

3. Porta Del Cel and the Highest Peak of the Catalan Pyrenees

4. Senda Pirenaica: The Warmer GR11

It doesn't require you to be a meteorologist to figure out that Spain is warmer than most of France. Sure, Barcelona is warmer than Paris. But did you know that the GR10, which is the coastal GR which runs from coast to coast on the Spanish side is also relatively warmer than the French GR10, as mentioned a few paragraphs up? Yep! That's how the mountain works. 

Now, the same story as with the GR10, you would need quite some time to cover it all. What's good about the two options mentioned above, the Carros de Foc and the Porta del Cel is that these are an integral part of the GR11. Should you steer away from these two well-organised self-guided options, you would have to take into account about 7 to 8 hours a day of hiking on the full GR11. 

4. Senda Pirenaica: The Warmer GR11

Map for Hiking the Pyrenees

If you want to get a better understanding of what's where in the Pyrenees, you can have a look at our map below. On this map, you can find the start and end points of both the GR10 and GR11. Also, you will get an idea of where the Carros de Foc and the Portal del Cel are. 

Map for Hiking the Pyrenees

Packing List for Hiking in the Pyrenees

It doesn't matter where you are going trekking or for how long: Carrying the right equipment with you is paramount. For a hiking trip in the Pyrenees, you will need, first and foremost, a good backpack. The size of your backpack will depend on how many days you will be spending in the mountains, the season, and the clothes you will be taking with you. We have prepared a packing list with some essential clothing that you should include and some extras that you may find useful:

Essentials

  • Walking boots (worn in)
  • Walking socks
  • Base layer tops – ideally thermal
  • Mid-layer tops (e.g., fleece)
  • Trekking Trousers
  • Hat for warmth or shade
  • Gloves
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Warm layer
  • Casual clothes & footwear for evenings
  • Nightwear and underwear
  • Water bottle
  • Sunglasses & sun cream
  • Toiletries
  • Cash for in the huts

Extras 

  • Small first aid kit
  • Blister Plasters
  • Insect repellent
  • Electrical socket adapter
  • Camera and charger
  • Map and compass
  • Whistle
  • Reading book(s)
  • Energy snacks
  • Walking poles
  • Buff

Enjoying the peace and quiet of nature is one of the pleasures of trekking in the mountains. However, sometimes we need an extra push to keep going. When you feel like giving up, having the right playlist on your phone can help you to get the motivation necessary to reach the top. Here are our   top picks for your hiking adventure. Don't forget to bring a power bank to keep your phone charged!

What to Do in Case of an Emergency?

A situation is defined as an emergency whenever human life (yours or someone else's) is endangered and there is nothing you can do to resolve the matter. You should call for help if there has been an accident, if there is somebody trapped, if you got lost or in trouble and are unable to continue because of the time of day or weather conditions, or if you are trapped because of technical climbing challenges that exceed your capabilities.

The most important thing to do in an emergency is to stay calm and survey the situation. Do not panic or take useless risks if the people in trouble are difficult to reach. In an emergency, first and foremost, call for assistance. When calling for help, make sure to provide your location and the number of victims and type of injuries. Then, protect the victim from cold and other environmental threats and administer first aid, if you can.

Reception is not a given in Pyrenees. However, the Emergency Number can be reached in most of the area. Always let your peers know what you are doing, which direction you are headed, or plainly, what your itinerary looks like.

Useful emergency phone numbers:

  • General Spanish and French Emergency Number: 112

What to Do in Case of an Emergency?

How Much Does a Hut-to-Hut Trek in the Pyrenees Cost?

The prices for hut-to-hut tours in the Pyrenees are quite varied. There are several variables to take into account when it comes to how much this trek costs: the type of accommodation, which can be in a shared dormitory or a private room in a hut, or also at a hotel in a town; How many days you will be spending on the mountain and whether you will be doing the full circuit or only a section; whether you will be doing it self-guided or with a guided group. The price of the trek will depend on your expectations for the tour.

Where Can I Book My Hut-to-Hut Trek in the Pyrenees?

At Bookatrekking.com you can book many treks in the Pyrenees. We take care of all the details for you, give you personal trekking advice and give you the best service possible. Find all our offers for the Pyrenees here. Our easy-to-use platform allows you to browse and compare different trekking options and find the perfect fit for your interests, abilities, and budget.

If you have any questions about a specific trek or need help choosing the right one for you, our team of Trekking Experts is here to assist you. Simply reach out to us and we will be happy to provide you with personalized recommendations and advice to help you plan the trekking adventure of a lifetime.

Is a walking holiday in Spain not your cup of tea and are you looking for other epic adventures? Check out one of our following blog posts:

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