The Pyrenees National Park, in France, is the magnificent setting for this beautiful and simple hiking route that takes us to visit the Pyrenean lake of Estanés from Sansanet. A route that will allow us to enjoy the impressive landscape that surrounds it, under the watchful eye of mythical Pyrenean peaks.
The 8.9 km route takes us to this corner of the Pyrenees, now on Spanish soil, from the Sansanet car park, on the French side of Somport. From the start we start to ascend as we walk through a leafy forest, leaving behind us a typical traditional cheese dairy, whose hut would almost go unnoticed if it were not for the sign that informs us of its existence. The majestic forest gives way to the characteristic Pyrenean landscape, surrounded by steep mountains that enliven the itinerary, giving us beautiful views that make up for the effort. An effort that obviously exists but which makes this route the best option for visiting the Pyrenean lake of Estanés with children.
A lake with a marked mountaineering character, as witnessed by the GR 11 or the Camille Path that passes through here from Lizara, Aguatuerta and Candanchú, three more options for reaching the beautiful Estanés lake. The return to the Sansanet car park generally follows the same route up, which allows us to enjoy a different panoramic view of the landscapes that surrounded us on the ascent to this colossus of the Pyrenees.
To get to the Sansanet car park, follow the old national road that crosses the Somport pass. Coming from Jaca, turn off at Canfranc-Estación and follow the old national road. We can also go through the tunnel, as soon after doing so we will have the link with the national road that goes up to Somport. The access to the Sansanet car park is in the middle of the road almost in the middle of the Somport pass on this side, and is well signposted. Once at the turn-off, a short stretch of road descends to the parking area.
The parking area of Sansanet (0h 00min) is the starting point for this beautiful hiking route in the Pyrenees.
We must continue descending along the path that leads to the car park.
We quickly come to the bridge that allows us to cross the Gave D'Aspe river, as the route continues on the other side.
We follow the course of the path and, almost without realising it, we reach the turn-off that we must follow. Another bridge, this time made of wood, allows us to cross the stream that goes in search of the nearby river.
The path that we are following begins to gain height, following the typical zigzags of mountain trails. As could not be otherwise, at almost every bend in the path there are some shortcuts that seek to climb more directly.
Soon we meet again the road that we left behind and that will be with us again for a while.
Once again we say goodbye to the path that leads to a nearby farm, to continue our ascent towards the Pyrenean lake of Estanés.
The forest still provides welcome shade on hot days, and the shortcuts invite us to make an extra effort to shorten the curves of the route.
The path is generally in fairly good condition and the more abrupt areas do not present any major complications.
The end of the forest also marks the border that separates France and Spain, now entering the Western Valleys Natural Park.
We follow the route, enjoying the little breaks it offers us. We even descend a few metres to cross a small stream.
However, we soon find ourselves once again faced with the slope that we still have to overcome to reach the lake.
The surrounding landscape is spectacular and invites us to take a break to enjoy it. Little by little we ascend in search of the Estanés pass, the highest part of our route.
After passing it, there is still a false flat ahead of us before we reach our goal.
Nestled between the surrounding mountains, the Pyrenean lake of Estanés (1h 30min) rises up before us, only a short descent separates us, following the marked path that leads to its shore.
Once you have enjoyed this natural spot in the Pyrenees, it is time to return to the starting point, the Sansanet car park (2h30min). Most of the walkers follow the same route they came here without major complications.
It is true that it is possible to do a circular route, but in addition to the greater distance there are a couple of somewhat exposed overpasses and a vertical iron staircase that allows us to descend the rocky outcrop that borders the lake. This turns a relatively simple route into a more demanding and complicated itinerary.
The small shortcuts that we will come across do not detract much from the distance of the route.
Of course, we will have to add the time of the stops we make along the route and the time we spend enjoying the lake and its surroundings.
Of course, the information provided in this guide is specific to the summer season, when neither snow nor ice is the main feature, as this would increase the difficulty and time needed to complete the route. It goes without saying that reaching the lake on snowshoes or cross-country skis is quite an experience, but the rest of the year has nothing to envy either. We must pay special attention to the weather, as the area is prone to fog and storms.
The fact that this is considered a simple or easy route does not mean that we should not equip ourselves properly. We are in the heart of the Pyrenees, at an altitude of almost 1800 m with no drinking water points and no shelters where we can take shelter if necessary. Walking poles will be a great help both going up and coming down, and a pair of hiking shoes is more than enough in normal conditions. Once we leave the forest we will not have a single shaded area. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more
An ideal route to do with the children, of course it has enough gradient so that we need to be in acceptable physical condition. The advantage is that this is the shortest route to visit the Pyrenean lake of Estanés, which allows us to take the ramps we have to overcome with the necessary calm so that we are not exhausted by the halfway point. Don't be fooled by the shortcuts, you won't save as much distance and you will have to make a greater effort.
Severity of the environment
Initially, with the terrain dry, this is not a route that crosses exposed areas or areas that could create problems. The path only has a couple of areas that are a little steeper but which can be overcome without complications, although we must be careful where we walk. The area around the lake does have more exposed and complicated areas if you want to go all the way round it.
In some sections of the route there are red and white markings that serve as a reference point. These markings can be confusing as the area is crossed by the GR 11 with its corresponding variants that can take us to Lizara, Aguatuerta and Candanchú. The main crossings are signposted to make the work easier, and the path is clearly marked. There are many shortcuts and trails that may cause us to hesitate at any given moment, but most of them will quickly take us back to the correct route.
|1-Parking of Sansanet
|30T 699918 4741188
|2-Pyrenean lake of Estanés
|30T 697241 4741383
|3-Parking of Sansanet
|30T 699918 4741188
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 114-2 1:25.000".
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
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¿Did you know that...
A little more than 12 km in a straight line from the Pyrenean lake of Estanés is the Pyrenean lake of Acherito, the westernmost ibón in the Aragonese Pyrenees, at an altitude of 1878 m, at the head of the Hecho Valley.
Don't miss out...
The Chemin de la Mâture not far from Sansanet, not far from the French village of Urdos. This is a path carved into the vertical mountain wall, suspended at a height of over 100m, along which timber was brought down for the French ships and which is now a popular and spectacular hiking route.
From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go.
Besides sharing with all of us your experience on the route we would be grateful if you could write to us to inform us of any erroneous or outdated information you may have found, or simply to let us know what you think at Thank you.
This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 18-08-2021. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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