Recreation Trail: Estanys Forcats long distance circuit

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34 km


Very difficult

When there is no snow on the surface, these are great scree runs, where the track is just for guidance because the topography can be changed by avalanches (winter) or rock falls (summer). The use of crampons is recommended if you are in any doubt, or after heavy winter snow. The technical sections and the metres of climb and descent make this a slow route.

The route starts at the Arinsal tunnel, next to the information point for the Park. Follow the GR towards the free refuge at Pla d’Estany; just at the beginning of the Pla d’Estany, turn right, towards Collet de Font Podrida and Les Bordes dels Prats Nous. From there a steep climb takes you over the Serrat de la Burna, leaving behind Pic del Clot de Cavall. From Collada de la Burna, descend rapidly to Estanys d’Angonella and after passing the three lakes, you come to the hard climb to Bretxa d’Arcalís. From the Bretxa, a steep descent takes you to the high slopes of the Ordino Arcalís winter resort.

The GRP can be found here, signed in red and yellow, at Basses de Port de Rat, from where you climb to the Port de Rat, which marks the French border. A technical descent to a small lake is not a chance to recover, and once you reach the lake turn to the left to face the demanding climb up Coll d’Arsinal, climbing to 2700 metres above sea level.  At the summit, the Estanys de Montmantell are laid out before you, and you pass them on the right to continue to descend to the headwaters of the Pla d’Estany, riding alongside the river, where before reaching the refuge you will once again meet the markers for the GRP. Follow the GRP to the right, on ground that is broken in sections, to reach Estanys Forcats, impressive mountain lakes which are frozen 10 months of the year. Above the lakes, you will find the Lodge of Estanys Forcats, a wooden structure protected by stones, where you can shelter if the weather suddenly changes.

From the Lodge, continue to climb the Collada dels Estanys Forcats, from which you descend rapidly, through boulders or snow depending on the season, to the Estanys de Baiau, now in Catalonia. From the lakes, climb through scree and broken ground to Portella de Baiau, back into Andorra, to climb up to the summit of Baiau and follow the ridge to the highest point in the country, Comapedrosa at 2941 metres. From the summit, descend following the ridge line over broken ground. At Estany Negre rejoin the GRP to descend fast to the Refuge at Comapedrosa, the country's first refuge with a warden. At the refuge, turn right to approach the last climb of the route, the Collada de Sanfons, which is not a difficult climb, and finish off the circuit climbing Pic del Port Vell and then descend to Port Vell.

From there you can see the ski lifts at Arinsal, go towards them and then make a fast descent down the ski slopes back to your starting point. 

WATER: Arinsal/you will find no end of lakes and rivers during the route where you can refill with water. We recommend taking mineral salts or water-purifying tablets.

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