Ordesa Valley, Pyrenees, Spain


• 5-star hike
• 11.0 mile hike
• Medium difficulty | Gain 3,570 feet
• Torla, Spain | Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
• Driving Directions: Trailhead, Bus Park & Ride


Towering Monte Perdido at the end of the Cola de Caballo trail.

Four hours driving from Barcelona leads you to the pretty town of Torla, and beyond it the massive U-shaped Ordesa Valley surrounded by Pyrenees Mountains. The area is renown for spectacular hiking, rafting, canyoning and via ferrata routes with the most popular routes tracing paths through the valley itself.

Shorter options include a 4.5 mile creekside stroll to some of the more impressive and closest waterfalls in the valley (AllTrails link), but if you have the time and the stamina we recommend a full clockwise loop of the valley.

Our recommended route follows the Rio Arazas towards its mountain source, the trail gradually ascending as you pass one picturesque waterfall after another. Although you'll gain 1,400 feet in the five miles it takes to reach the Cola de Caballo waterfall at the end of the valley, chances are you'll barely notice the climb as you admire the views around you. Particularly as you arrive at the Cirque de Soaso crowned by the massive 11,000 foot tall Monte Perdido.

Caballo & Cazadores Loop


Caballo & Cazadores Loop 5★
11.0 mi, Loop, Medium, Gain 3,570 ft
Trailspotting Map at AllTrails

At the end of the Cola de Caballo (Horse's Tail) trail, turn around and join the Senda de Los Cazadores (Hunters' Trail) which continues your gradual climb as you ascend part of the way up the South side of the valley wall before levelling off. The return leg of the hike offers some great views across the valley, though those with a severe fear of heights may want to give this trail a miss, as the path occasionally reveals and abuts some sheer drop-offs. We were armed with only cameras on the Hunters' Trail but we were able to spot Pyrenean chamois foraging in the undergrowth. The trail makes a final two thousand foot rocky descent back to the trailhead, switchbacking its way carefully down the valley wall.

For some reason AllTrails suggests a counter clockwise approach on this route, which requires beginning by climbing the cliff first and following the valley wall hugging Hunter's Trail over to Cascada Cola de Caballo. We prefer the clockwise route for multiple reasons, particularly if you get up early to enjoy the waterfalls before the crowds arrive. We find that the views of the valley terrain and waterfalls are best enjoyed by walking up it, and the gradual incline makes the 3,570 total feet of elevation gain so much easier to tackle.


One of many waterfalls along the Cola De Caballo Trail.

Vehicle parking is located at the trailhead, though in peak seasons personal vehicles are not allowed and a park-and-ride bus service from Torla is available. We've linked driving directions to both. The bus operates from around 6am - 9pm though this is subject to change so be sure to check the schedule.

We stayed at the Hotel Abetos in Torla, a well appointed small town with many hotels and restaurants. Check out the Guias de Torla website or their brick & mortar store in Torla for more details of other activities. We had a great time on a canyoning tour in the nearby CaƱones de Guara.


The dramatic Ordesa Valley viewed on the return along the Cazadores trail.


The Cazadores trail traces a precarious cliffside route back to the trailhead.


The valley entrance just outside the picturesque town of Torla.

Tangents:
• Trail Links: Official, Public Map at AllTrails
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article
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