I’ve now walked the length of the Pyrenees three times on different routes. 2700km, Atlantic to Mediterranean: 164 days hiking. I’ve been asked which route I liked best. Is it the Pyrenean Way (GR 10) [guide and forum] in France, the Senda Pirenaica (GR 11) [guide and forum] in Spain and Andorra, or this year’s trek, the Pyrenean Haute Route [Cicerone guide] (Haute Route Pyrénéenne, HRP, in French; Alta Ruta Pirenaica in Spanish) which flits across the border every second day?
GPS tracks of the three Pyrenean treks
The problem with making a comparison is that my memory is selective. As time goes on it erases the bad bits leaving a nostalgic glow. Was the GR 10, which I walked first, really that sublime? I’ll try to be objective. I want to start by eliminating the shared features.
GR 10, GR 11 and HRP: what they have in common
- Weather. There is little difference between the weather on either side of the central ridge. The Spanish Pyrenees are not dryer just because they are in Spain! After all, the average distance separating the northernmost and southernmost routes is only 15km (the maximum is 30km). What you get depends more on the direction of the wind. One day the foehn may shroud Spain in cloud, leaving France gloriously sunny. The next day the inverse.
- On the other hand there is a significant difference between the west (humid), the higher middle (colder) and the east (dryer and hotter). From mid-June to mid-September, the main trekking months, the days tend to start out cool and damp at dawn with the temperature rising steeply until about 16h00 when the rain often starts, sometimes accompanied by thunder and lightning.
[Spanish Pyrenees weather forecast] [French Pyrenees weather forecast]
- Another factor which might be thought to have an effect on the weather is slope direction. On average there are more soulanes (south-facing slopes) on the southern side of the mountains. But the Pyrenees are so convoluted that the effect is only important locally, near the high passes. At the beginning of the walking season the south- and east-facing slopes will be the first to shed their snow.
- Walkers. I expected to see fewer walkers on the HRP because it is more challenging but, taking into account all the people on day-hikes, the difference wasn’t huge. Even on the HRP, even on difficult days, I met local walkers who considered the area their playground.
- My biggest surprise was the number of cows, horses and sheep grazing on all three routes. I saw farm animals at some time absolutely every day, even on the HRP. Despite peaks reaching 3000m, much of the Pyrenees is somebody’s farmyard. The Pyrenees are not as wild as I thought before I started walking them.
- How long are the walks? There’s not much in it. But you might as well ask how long is a piece of string. The numerous guidebooks all have different figures for the length of the treks. In any case, the HRP is not a trajectory, more a concept and everybody I met was hiking a different route. The GR 10 and GR 11 also have variants. Let’s say that all the routes work out at between 850km and 960km with the HRP being the shortest. But in the mountains it isn’t length which matters. The average walker will only progress a seemingly pathetic 16–20km a day. It’s the climbing that counts.
- No need for a tent on the GR 10, GR 11 or HRP. This may come as a surprise to those who have read Pyrenees guide books and blogs, but there is no need to carry a tent on any of the Pyrenees crossings. I camped only once, between Gabas and Gourette on the GR 10 and I could have stayed in a hut. And this doesn’t mean long days racing to get find roof before nightfall. I almost always arrived at my destination before 16h00. See Pyrenees Refuges et Cabanes for free huts available to walkers. I never had a problem with free huts being full, unlike staffed hostels.
Of course, camping reduces costs and brings with it that special experience of being alone at night in the mountains, but I like to walk ultra-light.
GR 10, GR 11 and HRP: the differences
- Height. To my mind, the biggest difference between the three treks is their elevation, best illustrated by the number of passes over 2500m
- GR 10 – 2
- GR 11 – 12
- HRP – 23 plus 8km along the frontier ridge N of Núria
- Walking season. The heights are snowed up until early summer, so the walking season for thru-hikers without crampons is determined by the first high passes. Dates given below are a guide to what you might expect in an average year but check with nearest hostels for an update (Respomuso has a webcam).
- GR10 –
Hourquette d’Arre (2465m, Day 17 from W). Nearest hostel: Gourette
Col de Coma d’Anyell (2470m, Day 9 from E). Nearest hostel: Bésines
earliest date without crampons 14 June
- GR10 –
- GR11 –
Collado de Tebarray (2766m, Day 14 from W). Nearest hostel: Respomuso
earliest date without crampons 21 June
Coll de Nou Creus (2800m, Day 9 from E). Nearest hostel: Ulldeter
earliest date without crampons 21 June
- HRP –
Collado de la Facha (2664m, Day 14 from W). Nearest hostel: Respomuso
or Col de Cambalès (2710m, Day 14 from W). Nearest hostel: Respomuso
earliest date without crampons 28 June
In 2016 the approach to the Collado de la Facha was still covered in snow on 16 July and I used crampons, though others passing later in the day did without.
Coll de Nou Creus (2800m, Day 9 from E). Nearest hostel: Ulldeter
earliest date without crampons 21 June though crampons could be useful between the Soula and Renclusa hostels all summer.
- Ascent. The GR10 involves about 48,000m of ascent; the GR10 and HRP around 42,000m.
- Freedom. This is what I liked about the HRP. I didn’t feel constrained to a single path with red and white waymarks to tick off. The HRP (in all its variants) has no specific waymarks although it often coincides with other routes making navigation easier.
- Difficulty. To my mind the GR10 is the easiest of the three paths, despite the amount of climbing and the length, largely because it has existed longer and the creases have been ironed out. The only technical challenge where hands are needed is the Pas de l’Osque. There is a cable to help but it is badly positioned.
On the GR11 many of the higher passages are bestrewn with irregular boulders requiring care. I had to use crampons many times in 2013 after a severe winter, though looking back this may have been better than boulder-hopping.
The HRP is the most technical route, with lots of boulder-hopping and several awkward or vertiginous passages. From W–E: Crète de Zazpigain, Passage de Orteig, Hourquette de Héas, the climb up to Puerto de Añes Cruces, Col de Litérole, Collada de Mulleres, Col du Picot and the Cheminée de Canigou. But one pass stands out from the rest. Descending the Collada de Mulleres (Coll de Molières) is rock climbing and I wouldn’t have done it without the help of a professional guide. (The bad reputation of the Gourgs Blancs glacier is unfounded: it no longer exists, though the subsequent descent from the pass and the boulders before the Portillon hostel are very trying.)
- Terrain. All three routes are similar at both ends; but in the middle the HRP and GR 11, being higher, are more frequently above the tree-line and more rugged. The HRP visits more (stupendously beautiful) lakes than its rivals.
- Accommodation. The GR11 often spends the night at a hotel in a village whilst the other two hikes favour isolated hostels. I stayed in six unmanned huts on the GR10, seven on the GR 11 and eight on the HRP.
- Flora and fauna. Whichever path is chosen, you will see marmottes, isards and vultures. No bears. Above 2500m the landscape is predominantly bare rock, so for animals, flowers, and birds the GR10 is probably best.
So which route did I like best? The Pyrenean Way (GR10) is still in first place. What do you think? See comments below.
71 thoughts on “Trekking the Pyrenees: GR10, GR11 or HRP (Pyrenean Haute Route), a short guide to the differences”
Hi a friend and I are wanting to just do a few days maybe 4 hiking the gr 10 or 11 and preferably sleeping in huts but open to hostels and trying to figure out best area for that.
‘Best’ depends on your preferences and experience. You need to tell me more.
Myself and a friend are hoping to do 4 days of fast packing along one of these routes. We are both ultra distance trail runners, interested in technical terrain (loved the GR20 northern section) and can cover a good amount of ground per day. We can happily carry our own tent or stay in refuges and have both decent experience in the mountains. Is there a section you would recommend? Our major constraint is access to the route from public transport. Annual leave days are limited so we need to fly in from Ireland & the UK and get on the trail quickly to maximize time we have to enjoy the mountains. Any advice would be gratefully received. I would expect we will be doing this trip in September.
Since you want mountains, it has to be between Zuriza and Setcases on the GR11 or HRP or between Gabas and Bolquère on the GR10 (Canigó is high but isolated). Access is easier via France.
A good starting point would be Etsaut (GR10) or nearby Candanchú (HRP/GR11) accessible by train (or a bus pretending to be a train) from Pau, Tarbes, Toulouse, Barcellona airports. Assuming you can do between two and three walkers’ days in one day running you could do GR10 Etsaut – Gourette – Cauterets – then cross over to GR11 Respomuso (via Wallon) – Candanchú. Potentially you could do the last day on the HRP from Respomuso via Arrémoulit and Pombie to Somport if you want to stretch yourselves.
Or continue on the GR10 to Luz-St-Sauveur Etsaut – Gourette – Cauterets – Bayssellance – Luz.
If you are going before mid July you may need crampons and ice axe for certain sections (Bayssellance or Wallon-Respomuso). See comments on snow conditions in the Pyrenees my other site.
I hop this helps. I’d really like to know how you get on and what you think of the mountains.
Hi Steve, thank you for a very practical guide to all three routes. It already increases my heart rate and longing for the vacation 🙂
Could you recommend a possibility to join some of the routes in Andorra region for 4-8 day trip ending on public transport with possibility to go back to Andorra or Barcelona? We are experience walkers but will be heavy with a tent and rations. Thanks a million
How about the Tour d’Andorre. With a tent you could split up some of the longer days.
Hi Steve! Brilliant comparison, very to the point.
I want to hike any of the 3 trails, but due to work, I only got time in November. I also want to do it light weight and without a tent, like you. Is there any chance in your mind? which route and what direction would you recommend?Thanks!
November really isn’t the time for lightweight. Most hostels are shut and it will certainly snow at some point. Unless you are super fit and experienced at mountain running you will need more than 30 days.
On the other hand, if you just want to sample the mountains for a couple of weeks, start at the Mediterranean and work inland. Check out which hostels leave basic accommodation open in winter and also the numerous huts.
Hi Steve! Your websites are really helpful. Can you recommend a section of the HRP (or maybe a particularly good bit of the GR11) for 2-3 days trekking? My brother and I are travelling to northern Spain in the first week of October and were hoping to spend a few days in the mountains.
We both have lots of experience in the Rockies etc. We’d like to sleep in a tent but understand that may not always be allowed on these routes. Isolated hostels are better than nights spent in town.
Sorry Peter that I didn’t reply earlier: I’ve been away.
At that time of year there will be accommodation in Nuria and the Ulldeter hostel is open at weekends. Although the Vall de Nuria itself isn’t wild as soon as you get out onto the frontier ridge it is quite different, as the nine crosses commemorating the shepherds who died there attest. So you can go from Nuria to Ulldeter on the ridge and back via the Coma de Vaca hostel, also open weekends only.
Or cross over to France and stay at excellent Cal Pai in Eyne coming back up the Eyne valley but then cutting across east to Nou Creus before descending to Nuria again.
[To clarify my comment above: we won’t have a car, so we’re looking for trailheads accessible by public transport. Vall de Nuria looks like a potential jumping-off point, but ideally we’d find something more isolated.]
Hi Steve! I am interested in doing a bit of one of the three trails, I only have 4 days off and am coming from Ireland. Do you have any recommendations for a shorter trip accessible by public transportation? I am flexible on where I fly in/out of and am in good physical condition and am an experienced hiker. Thank you!
It depends when you are coming. If it is before mid-October, fly to Toulouse, train to Cauterets and then do the GR10 to Oulettes de Gaube, Gavarnie, Luz St-Sauveur, Cauterets. To shorten it you should be able to get back to Toulouse from Luz St Sauveur.
I hope this helps
It’s great description.
I have a question.
I was in Dolomites, Tirol and Mont Blanc.
Each time no more than a week of hiking.
What is your recommendation up to 7 days with return back by some public transport or taxi.
I’d like to take rest each night on gite, refuge or hotel. GR 10 or GR 11. Do you help me with some advice.
Thank you very much.
Rather than a linear walk like the GR10 or GR11 perhaps a circular walk would be more interesting. You could combine some of these Pyrenees cross-frontier walks, or even better walk the Senda de Camille, the Muntanyas de Libertat or the Porta del Cel.
See this page for trailheads on the GR10 and GR11.
A truly fantastic resource and insight! The last few years I have been doing some multi-day treks less challenging than these trails (Westweg in the black forest) and shorter more challenging hikes/scrambles (Zugspitze, Bernese Alps) and I would like to combine the two and do a more mountainous multi-day excursion. My easiest access is to the east of these trails (Andorra I can fly into directly). Having about 5-7 days what stages would you recommend of the GR11 to see the best possible of the pyrenees? Many thanks for all your help!
Go west from Andorra. You should get as far as Conangles, through the Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. Note that this is only feasible July to October. From Conangles you should be able to find a bus to Barcelona airport.
Hi Steve! Thanks so much for such a detailed comparison! We are three friends who fell in love with long-day trails last year. We did Tour de Montblanc and now looking for a new route. We have 6-7 days in June or July. We are thinking of something semi challenging with decent ascents and peaks (~ 2700 km) but not involving extra equipment. What would you recommend? And may be you know some circle routes not far from Bilbao? We like La Senda de Camille, but it’s a bit far.
Elena, Anna and Maria
Thank you for this useful information. I’m considering walking (part of) the HRP next summer. I am not planning to carry a tent. Is it necessarry to carry a matrass and blanket or are these available in the huts/refuges along the route?
Looking forward to hear from you,
(from the Netherlands)
You don’t need a tent if you plan your huts carefully. All of the staffed hostels/refuges have matrasses and blankets but many of the free, unstaffed huts don’t have either. Generally, facilities in unstaffed huts are better in Spain than France, so if you have a choice plan to spend more time in Spain than France (I calculate I crossed the border 28 times!)
Hi Steve, thanks for your time and effort documenting the trails of the Pyrenees. I was hoping you could provide some advice for an upcoming trip.
My girlfriend and I are flying into Barcelona in late September this year and are looking for a ~10 day backpacking route through the Pyrenees. We are experienced back country hikers and live in the Sierra Nevada of California. As such, we would like to experience the mountains, beautiful scenery and mountain towns of the region.
Based on your site, I think the GR11 would be a good choice for us. Where would you recommend we start and finish to get the most out of our trip?
Are there any spots you can recommend to cross over to the HRT and get back to GR11?
I suggest walking from Conangles to Puigcerda, which are both (relatively) accessible from Barcelona. I presume you mean HRP (Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne) not HRT. This is a good idea, as the HRP route through Andorra is better than the GR11 (wilder). You can join it at Tavascan and come back to the GR11 from the Juclar refuge.
Thanks for the awesome info. !
I am going to walk east to west in 30days for charity. Starting 25th June in Hendaye. I am concerned about the requirements for ice axe and crampons! I will be camping every night and want to keep weight down- must I carry them?
Are there any resources to see how much snow fell this winter?
Which route would you recommend to ensure completion?
Many thanks in advance for your valuable insights!
Since you are setting out on 25 June you won’t need crampons if you take either the GR10 or GR11. If you take the HRP there is a chance that you might have to go around some small residual snow but that shouldn’t require crampons. One of the best guides to the amount of snow is to look at the Pyrenees webcams listed on my other site. At present the webcam at Respomuso (for example) is showing a lot of snow: by the time you get there that long valley should be almost completely snow-free (assuming you take the GR11).
I’m wondering if you are intending walking the whole way from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean in 30 days as you seem to suggest? You don’t say how much experience you have of high-mountain walking. I would estimate that only the fittest 5% of experienced mountain walkers could do the distance – and above all the climbing – in 30 days. Especially as you will be carrying a tent etc.
I’m sorry for all of these questions, but I have just one more. I’m coming to Europe in the middle of June. I’m 65 but still in good shape.
Since I retired 6 years ago, I’ve been hiking very often, (3 weeks ago I finished Three Passes Trek, last year I did the JMT, a section of the PCT in Washington State, Cordillera Huayhuash …etc).
I prefer to go alone with my tent for privacy, but this time I am going with two of my friends. They are also in good shape.
We want to begin in the middle of June, and we would like to go to the Pyrenees. We have a car, but we don’t like day hikes.
I would like to ask you if you have any recommendations for our two weeks.
You’re my age then… You have two weeks and a car and want to do multi-day treks in mid-June and you will be staying in hostels.
By that time the hostels will be open. So the only constraint is that there will still be snow on some of the higher passes and on the highest peaks (3000m+). I’ll assume you don’t want to take crampons, but maybe I’m wrong? In any case you have plenty of options.
You could walk a section of any of the three routes and use public transport or taxis to get back to your car – as you will see from this page on accommodation for walkers in the Pyrenees many of the hostels have car access. At that date you might need to go around some of the higher passes between the points marked on this page on (snow on the GR10, GR11 and HRP). On the other hand you may be lucky and find that the snow has disappeared – it is difficult to be certain at this stage.
Alternatively you might like to combine the routes using cross-frontier paths. Or consider a couple of circular walks like the Muntanyas de Libertat, the Senda de Camille, or the Porta del Cel. Brian Johnson has just brought out a new Cicerone guide to Short Treks in the Pyrenees which should be very useful to you.
I hope you are well. Love your site! I would be delighted if you could help me out a little.
I am looking to do a 3 or 4-day hike in the pyrenees in the second half of September. I already did a section of the GR11 a few years back (Sallent de Gallego – Parzan), with the Picos del Infierno as one of the most fond memories I have of that hike. Now I would like to spend a few days in the mountains with my girlfriend. I am a bit torn in which section to choose of either the GR10, GR11 or HRP. We would come in by car, walk 3 or 4 sections, drop out and take a bus back to our starting point. So some accesibility is key. Afterwards we’ll probably spend a few days at the mediteranean sea (FRA or ESP), so maybe a section a bit more to the East? But I would definetly be looking for a similar experience to the one I had a few years back (solitude, stunning views, high peaks and camping). What options would you recommend? Thanks a lot!
Getting a bus back could be the difficulty because you would have to go well out of the Pyrenees down a valley and then back up again. One option would be the Caros de Foc which is circular – and magnificent, and well served by busses at the extremities. Otherwise consider one of these combining these cross-frontier walks. You also have the Porta del Cel, the Mountains of Freedom trek or the Senda de Camille.
Hi, my friend and me are planning to hike a bit of Pyrenees. We will arrive to Toulouse and we plan to leave from Andorra. My friend is experienced but that can not be sad about me, bud we are in a good shape. We plan to hike for 4-6 days in late August.
Do you have any recommendation for us?
We would prefer not to carry tent and not to spend very much on accommodation. Maybe some refuge huts?
Thank you very much for hepl
From Toulouse you can catch a train to either Tarascon-sur-Ariège or to Mérens-les-Vals. If you decide on Tarascon you will need to take a bus up the Vicdessos valley and then walk up to the GR10 at Goulier or Siguer. There is a cheap hut in Siguer. After that there are free huts at Courtal Marty and Clarens. You would then stay in the Rulhe hostel and walk over to Andorra via the lacs de Fontargente, to the Juclar hostel, or indeed to the free hut at Cabana Sorda.
Alternatively, from Mérens, walk to the Rulhe hostel and then over to Andorra.
Hi, thank you so much for this. Is there a difference between GR11 and GR10 in terms of water availability? I am planning to start hiking at the end of August.
No. But you need water tablets or a filter.
Hey, my grilfriend and I want to hike a part of the G10.
We have about 10 days of pure Walking. We want to wild camp. What section of the GR10 do you recommend. We would love to see forest, lakes and rough mountains. I gnerall: beautiful and diverse nature.
I know this i very subjective but maybe you can give us an inspiration. Just share your opinion/experiance.
My propositions will depend on your experience of high mountains (above 1500m) and trekking with a tent (more than 3 days). I don’t want to propose something that would be inappropriate. Also, when are you thinking of going?
My wife and I are planning to walk the GR10 next year between August & October. My main question is: What will the weather be like generally in October?
See my page on snow reports for the Pyrenees and comments. It has already snowed – yesterday – but melted. So you are likely to encounter snow showers towards the end of your trip. As long as you are prepared for 0 degrees first thing in the morning you will be OK assuming you are staying in hostels.
Follow me on Twitter @enmarchant for snow updates.
Get back to me if you have any more questions, though I will be away until Monday.
My friend and I loved the Northern section of the GR20. It was a good level of difficulty (not too hard) but unbelievably beautiful and with occasional swimming spots.
Which route would you recommend for beauty, moderate-hard difficulty, swimming spots and a section that could be done in 8-10 days or so?
For lakes the best area is the Parque Nacional de Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici. But note that you can’t camp there. Otherwise anywhere between Torla and Puigcerdà on the GR11 or between Lescun and Mérens-les-Vals on the GR10 in France. A good idea would be a circular walk one way on the GR11 and come back on the GR10 (or HRP).
How is it possible to book a bed for so long time? You can’t be sure where are you going to be in a week, let alone more than that.
Actually you don’t need to book more than two days in advance and I don’t recommend bookin way ahead. As you say you don’t know where you are going to be in a week (current circumstances excepted)
Could you recommend an itinerary from Merens to Bunyols with a rough idea of time. I am pretty fit and and experienced mountain walker
The classic is the GR10, 9 days, see my other site pyreneanway.com. You can also diverge onto the GR11, at Mariailles and back onto the GR10 at Las Illas…
I hope this helps.
Great website you have! Very useful, thanks for sharing!
We’re looking for a 3/4/4,5 day route with some mountains (we’ll bring tents so we’re flexible in terms of accomodation). The route can be circular (GR10 (entry point)/GR11 and maybe a bit of HRP if not too technical) but we will have cars available to drive to the starting (and ending point)). We have been looking at Lescun as a starting point, but it’s a bit hard to figure out which route would be feasible within 4 days. If needed, we can stretch it from monday late afternoon until friday early evening.
Levels of experience range from beginner to slightly more experience, but no experts by any means in terms of GR trails.
Looking forward to any recommendations!
A good walk for you could be the ruta de las Golondrinas, particularly now that the refugio de Belagua will be reopening on 15 August. I haven’t done it as such though I have walked various sections. It can be done in 3, 4 or 5 days, your choice.
I’d love to know how it works out when you get back.
Have fun, Steve
I’m looking for a 8day route with a pretty accessible starting and ending point. It would be for a party of 2, one fairly experienced walking in the mountains (eg. climbed both the Mont Blanc and the Monte Perdido), the other less so and no special equipment for both. We are young and in good shape so we would be able to power through some miles. We prefer sleeping in our tent or an unmanned shelter. We would like the start walking the 22nd July this year but are a bit spooked by the numerous thunderstorms forecasted.
We looked into the HRP and the Senda De Camille, with the former looking a bit too difficult and the latter maybe a bit too easy and not adventurous enough.
Recap: Looking for a route that should be accessible without extra gear. Mountainous stages are no problem if the walking pads are not too technical. Accessibility by train or bus would be a plus.
I know those are a lot of demands, but we hope you could help us find the perfect fit!
The Senda de Camille is a good hike. When I did it I stayed in the hostels but I noticed that there were free extremely basic huts about half way between most of the hostels that I could have stayed in.
On the other hand you might like to consider a combination of the Mountains of Freedom and the Sky’s Door trails. They have an overlapping section between Bordes de Graus and Certascan. Best access starting at either l’Escolan or Aulus-les-Bains. You can certainly get to St Girons on public transport. After that it will be more difficult and you will need to research options.
Don’t worry about thunderstorms excessively. In July/August you can expect at least one every two to three days, whether or not they are forecast. But the vast majority happen after 16h00. So get up early – easy if you have a tent or are in a hut – and set off before 7h00. That way you will get a good days walking in and arrive at your destination by 16h00. Time for a siesta!
I’d love to know how you found your trek when you get back.
a great report! Maybe you can help us: A friend and I would like to spend 5-6 days on GR 10 in the 1st or 2nd week of September. We arrive by car and are looking for an ideal starting point and the possibility to come back by bus/taxi. We are in our early 30s, in good condition, have already done several multi-day treks and are equipped accordingly. We want to camp wild and will therefore have heavy backpacks with which we cannot do difficult climbing passages. But we love wild nature and our focus is on deserted landscapes, less people and a varied flora and fauna. We are looking forward to your recommendation!
If you think that GR 11 is much more suitable for our project, please tell us!
Many thanks and greetings
The wildest bits are in the centre, but that means that if you want to do a linear walk it is more difficult to get back to the start. You could do Banyuls to Mariailles, for example and then cut down to Villefranche and catch a train back. However, I would recommend using one of the cross-frontier routes for a circular walk. Let me know if you need any more info.
thank you for this incredibly rich and detailed guide! I’ve one main question. Weather-wise, is it feasible to take the GR10 route starting 1 Nov. and finishing in Mid-Dec., or is this too close to the winter season? It’s the only time I have off, and because of COVID restrictions, Latin America options are largely out. Thanks for any advice!
see this page on the walking season in the Pyrenees.
Hi Steve, Thank you so much for this great article! A friend and I are considering hiking part of one of the trails for a few (+-3) days this summer if Covid allows us. Which segments would you recommend? We are open for anything. We would like to stay in huts, but if needed we can bring a tent. The main thing is that we would love to see some of the amazing nature and have a great experience doing 45-60km of the route. There should be an option to go back to the starting point by public transport to pick up our car afterwards. We are puzzling a lot now and it seems like you’re an expert. Would love to hear your view on this 🙂
There is no public transport along the length of the Pyrenees, you would have to go down and back up, taking up to a day. Better to do a circular walk. The classic is the GR10 circuit CAuterets – Bayssellance – Gavarnie – Luz-St-Sauveur – Cauterets (4 days, 3 nights). Otherwise see my page on circular treks between France and Spain.
Thank you for your fast reply! We will check it out!
Hi Steve. Great site. is it possible to cross from the GR10 to the GR11 at any point to experience both Spanish and French accommodation. And even a few high trail sections
See this page.
I plan on hiking the HRP this summer starting in late july. I hiked the colorado trail last summer and found that the guthook online guide was immensely helpful for staying on the trail using my phone in airplane mode. I also did some summit hikes around Cauterets a few summers ago and we kept getting lost until we found a gps-based guide (I am 62 in case you think I am a phone addicted teenager!) Do you use similar resources and if so is there one you would recommend? I am concerned that not all gps guides follow the same path. Thanks for your help and your priceless comparison of the 3 routes.
I tend to think of the HRP as an idea rather than a route. This is why there are so many versions online, including mine, linked above. Before any trip I download several versions and compare them. My principal resource is Wikiloc though VisoRando is also useful, as are many other sites. When I was walking the HRP I took a rechargeable battery so that I could recharge my phone from it, giving me 7 days independence in airplane mode.
Many years ago I walked the section of the GR11 from Puigcerda to the Mediterranean coast. I’ve also done a couple of week long trips in the French side around the pic du Midi d’Ossau. I still dream of doing the whole thing in two years time. From my previous experience I am surprised you say you can do it without a tent; anyway I like the odd night in the wild between luxury. More importantly is food really available all the way along. I want to travel light.
I did the GR10 with only one night in a tent and with better planning that could have been avoided. I didn’t take a tent for either the GR11 or HRP. I stayed in refuges, hotels, unstaffed huts. There are hundreds of free basic huts in the Pyrenees, including in wild places, including some not on the pyrenees-refuges site. You will need to plan carefully. This doesn’t solve the carrying food problem, but I never had to carry more than 2 1/2 days food; mostly just enough for the overnight.
If you decide to go for unstaffed huts and find a zone where you think there are no possibilities, let me know. If you want to know where I stayed in detail, there is always my book!
At first Thank you so much for sharing your experience and espacialy hosting this website for so much years and answering even questions twice, which you actually answered in your main thread already.
I have just one question I havn’t found an answer for yet. With how much costs would I have to calculate for food providing a day/in general for thruhiking the hole trail (I am preparing for the HRP). For example for the main north american trails like PCT, CDM, AT aso there is an average cost of 20$ per day due to local economy. How is this in Spain/France-Pyreneas ?
Thanks in forecast!
When you stay in hostels, the evening meal, bed, breakfast will cost around 45 euros in France. A picnic lunch will be around 8 euros on top, if you want one (not value for money usually). in Spain, the same services will cost about 8 euros less in total.
If you are wild camping and buying your own food including meat and dairy, you will need to budget around 20 euros unless you want to skimp. This assumes you are cooking all your own stuff. A basic restaurant meal will cost 18 euros in France, 14 in Spain.
I hope this helps.
I sent a message yesterday regarding obtaining a detailed map of GR10/11 from you but I can’t now navigate to where I could see your answer ! Also, as a newby to big mountain walks, I thought maybe to start I could do Henday to St Jean Pied de Port as a fairly short trip, but wanted to get your views on how lovely this section is and how challenging ? I want a challenge as I am fit but not too arduous as I want to enjoy it too. Any advice appreciated
I hadn’t yet replied, but you would have been notified by email once I had done so. However the map you requested contains no more detail than the one on the site already, which you can print.
However, yes, Hendaye to St Jean Pied de Port is a good starting point. The countryside is pretty and green rather than mountainous and rugged. How arduous you make it depends on how far you walk in a day. Good walkers will do 6-8 hours a day Henday-Olhette-Ainhoa-Bidarray-SJPP.
no problem, thanks for taking the time, I will print that map and get the OS map too. Ok so that section is a good starter session for going on to do the more arduous sections then ? I’m guessing it still contains plenty of climbing though ? Can I then readily get public transport back to Hendaye after the walk(s) ?
What a resource of information and inspiration. Hi,
I’m planning about 20 days in the Pyrenees this summer and wonder if you have any suggestions? I have been looking mostly at the HRP, but it could include GR 10 or GR 11 and it doesn’t have to be in a straight “line”… It is a bit tricky to plan on a distance, so I thought I’d turn to some people that have walked it previously for some advice. I’m hiking with a tent and I’m fairly normal when it comes to pace and length, but as I’m soon 50 yrs and a woman I’m not as fit as a youngster any more :-). Before I buy all the guidebooks and maps, I thought I’d have a slightly better idea on itinerary.
There are many ways of combining the GR10, GR11 and HRP, see my page on Pyrenees cross-border routes. Perhaps the best resources are available on Facebook, with many groups dedicated to the backpacking on the three route.
Oh, that was the perfect illustration! Thank you. Now it is easier to make a customer tour.
Amazing read! I feel so excited about planning my trip there now in the month of August, hopefully I’ll be able to do the full hike!
You mentioned that it’s possible to do the HRP without a tent, may I know what route you took (if you remember hahah) and where can I find the hostels/refuges?
Also, how much cash should I prepare in advance per day (assuming they don’t accept card).
The route is here.
And here is the first of the pages I wrote about the HRP.
Refuges will cost around 60 euros including food, hotels 80 euros.
I hope this helps.
wow that costs a bomb! Guess I will pack a tent instead haha. Thanks for the route and guide though!