The Aralar Natural Park brings together not only the special uniqueness of its landscapes, but also a rich historical heritage left by the ancient inhabitants of these lands in the form of dolmens, menhirs and burial mounds. The Pass of Lizarrusti, one of the gateways to Gipuzkoa from neighbouring Navarre, is an obligatory stop on many of the routes that run through the Sierra of Aralar, old muleteer and shepherd's paths that we can now travel on hiking trails.
The 7 km route of the Lareo Reservoir from Lizarrusti takes us through part of the magnificent landscape that surrounds this area of Aralar. The interpretation centre of the Aralar Natural Park in the Lizarrusti Pass, as well as being a magnificent place to discover the secrets of this natural environment, is the starting point for this route. There are many families with their children or many hikers who climb up the steep Lizarrusti Gorge from here, crossing vertical cuts with the only help of a solitary chain that acts as a handrail on the most abrupt sections. The route in its first section transports us surrounded by the vertical walls that mark the gorge, leading us to enter them thanks to the tunnel that crosses them. The river that runs along the bottom of the valley also has part of the protagonism during the tour allowing us to enjoy beautiful corners with great charm.
The thickness of the forest accompanies us to the Lareo reservoir itself, beech and pine trees, among other species, bring all their colour to this trekking route through Aralar. A route that takes us around the limits of the Lareo reservoir as we say goodbye to the different paths and GRs that have accompanied us on our journey. A stretch that we walk under the watchful eye of Mount Sarastarri, one of the most emblematic in the area, which hides a few surprises. The Labeo dolmen tells us about the ancient inhabitants of Aralar, making us imagine their customs and way of life before we finish our tour of the Lareo reservoir and set off towards the Pass of Lizarrusti, entering once again into the narrow gorge that brought us to this beautiful place.
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The large number of signposted routes with which we will coincide allow those who are a little short of this route to extend their itinerary. To do this we have several options to which more advisable, for example we can crown the top of Mount Sarastarri and approach to visit its mysterious cave where a curious interior lake loaded with legends awaits us. Or we can also go to the dolmen of Jentilarri, possibly the best preserved in the whole region.
To reach the Lizarrusti Pass, we must follow the road that connects the Navarre town of Etxarri Aranatz, on the motorway between Vitoria and Pamplona, with the town of Beasain in Gipuzkoa, on the A-1, and in this case, passing through the town of Ataun first. Once in Lizarrusti we will have a large parking area where we can park our vehicle.
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Like all nature parks we must pay attention to the regulations that govern it, in this case as usual our dog will have to be tied up. The route is perfect to initiate our friend in the practice of hiking, not being too demanding for him.
We will pass different areas where he will surely be able to drink all the water he needs, it is not too much to bring him some food. Be careful with the steepest steps so that no complications arise.
It is not strange to meet other pets along the route, not so much with the cattle.
The car park of the Aralar Natural Park House (0h 00min) in the Pass of Lizarrusti is the starting point of this hiking route frequented by many families with children.
There are several options to start the tour but the best is to go up the ramp in front of the park house. Once up, this short and conditioned walk ends when you come across a track that ascends from the nearby road, at which point our itinerary turns sharply to head towards the interior of the forest.
We advance leaving behind the road and the trail that on our right follow the GR 12 and the GR 121 a couple of long distance paths we have to find in this area.
At the moment we came across a fork in the path, where those who decided to climb up here joined us, crossing the recreational area next to the car park.
Our route from now on will be marked not only by the typical red and white marks of the GR, but also by the green marks belonging to our route.
We advance surrounded by a lush forest following a magnificent path without major complications. This path loses its width until it becomes a comfortable trail.
After a while we will meet again in front of a new fork, here we will leave the trail on our right to follow the path that brought us to this place.
Little by little we are getting into the deep gorge we are going up.
A wild gorge covered by vegetation that, together with the chains that act as handrails, hide us and help us pass through areas that would be quite impressive if they were not covered by vegetation.
Almost without realizing it, we gain height gently as we approach another of the charming places on this hiking route.
A little further on, the small tunnel carved into the mountain awaits us, allowing us to save the wall that cuts us off the pass.
After going through the tunnel we will begin to gain height with more evidence, short and demanding ramps that make us advance calmly.
The trail we are following is generally and except for a few short stretches in fairly good condition. We are crossing some gates that seem to delimit the wildest zone of the route.
After a while, we reached the height of the river that we could hear at the bottom of the valley. We will cross this river thanks to the wooden bridge that crosses it, just to make it start with another hard ramp.
From now on we will see ourselves following a new path with sections in better condition and others that are somewhat broken.
Our path reaches its end when we meet the asphalt track that goes down from the reservoir in search of the base of the dam that forms it. Here we can continue to climb on the asphalt track or shorten this section a little in exchange for following the steep trail in front of us.
Both options are joined again a little higher up so that together they can continue to ascend in search of the Lareo reservoir. This stretch is made more pleasant by the thick beech forest that surrounds us.
A beech forest that accompanies us practically until the doors of the Lareo reservoir (1h 00min).
As soon as we arrive we will see another fork in the road, here the GR 283 and the GR 35 continue on our right side, bordering the reservoir dam. Just like the marks on our trail.
But on this occasion we decided to go around the reservoir in the opposite direction to that proposed by the official itinerary.
In any case, we will continue to enjoy the perfect signposting that has accompanied us throughout the route.
With the reservoir always on our right, we reach a new junction where we turn right to continue along the limits of the Lareo reservoir.
Quickly and after leaving behind a new path we arrive at the crossroads where we say goodbye to the GR 20.1, another of the many that have accompanied us.
This part of the itinerary follows a peaceful path surrounded by the vegetation that grows next to the reservoir.
After a while we reach the crossroads that marks the end of this section, as our route turns sharply to the right to continue bordering the Lareo reservoir.
Crossroads where we meet again the route followed by the GR 35 and the GR 283, but now in the opposite direction, i.e. towards Lizarrusti.
This part of the route takes us through places as mysterious as the one that houses Labeo's dolmen.
Or for places as curious as the bridge that crosses one of the drains of the reservoir. But this section also has some hard ramps that we will have to overcome.
Fortunately, as usual, they are not too long ramps and soon we will be ready to cross over the reservoir dam.
On the other side of the Lareo reservoir dam (1h 30min) the crossroads that closes the circle is waiting for us. Here we only have to start the descent that will take us back to the Lizarrusti pass (2h 10min) following the same route inside the gorge.
Total distance. 7 Km
Total time. 2h 10min
As always, this figure is an estimate to which we will have to add, among other things, the time we spend enjoying the natural area we are visiting.
Time of year. Marked by the water of the reservoir
The level of the water in the reservoir is undoubtedly a determining factor, but the places we pass through on the way more than compensate for the possible lack of water in the reservoir. Autumn is a very good period as the forest is painted in its typical ochre colours, which adds to this interesting trekking route through the Aralar Natural Park.
Required equipment. Don't underestimate it
This is a simple route that runs through quite good terrain and this may make us fall into the error of not giving it proper consideration. We will go through some areas that are somewhat decomposed, others with a certain slope, and wearing suitable footwear will provide us with greater safety and comfort. Hiking shoes will surely be better than typical sports shoes. Although we will pass by some sources is not a bad idea to bring some water, especially if we go with children. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
Slope acumulate. 356 m Slope positive. 178 m Slope negative. 178 m
Maximum altitude. 761 m Minimum altitude. 620 m
Without being an excessively long route nor with a remarkable unevenness, we do have to find some ramp that if we are not used to it is better to take it easy. Take your time and enjoy the route and you will see how you arrive at the reservoir almost without realizing it.
Severity of the environment
We are going to pass through some quite exposed areas where the vegetation helps to conceal the fall that we really have at our side. Areas that thanks to the width of the path that runs through them and the chain that acts as a handrail should not make us have a bad time, but that should not be taken as a joke either. The decomposition of small sections of the itinerary will also force us to pay special attention to the descent.
The large number of trails that we will coincide with during the tour and their corresponding marks should be all the complications that we encounter.
|1-Lizarrusti car park||0h 00min||620 m||0 Km||30T 573400 4756834|
|2-Lareo Reservoir||1h 00min||745 m||2,5 Km||30T 572277 4758463|
|3-Lareo Reservoir||1h 30min||745 m||4,5 Km||30T 572277 4758463|
|4-Lizarrusti car park||2h 10min||620 m||7 Km||30T 573400 4756834|
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 114-1, 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.
Preciosa ruta de senderismo, muy recomendable para llevar a los niños.
¿Did you know that...
The house that houses the interpretation centre was the old Casa de los Miqueletes, an armed corps from the 17th century whose mission in Lizarrusti was to collect the corresponding taxes for the goods that passed through here.
Don't miss out...
The Aralar Park Interpretation Centre in Lizarrusti, the visit will allow you to learn more about the history and peculiarities of this territory along with the hiking routes that run through it.
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This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 29-09-2018. 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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