Hiking in the Spanish Pyrenees
Vall de Nuria
There are several national parks in the Pyrenees that are perfect for a day hike, but also for a few days hiking with overnight stays at one of the refugios - mountain huts. All hiking routes in Spain are labeled GR which is a shortening for Grand Route. GR 11 is a 840 kilometres long hiking route that runs all the way along the Pyrenees from Cape Higuer by the Atlantic ocean to Cap de Creuz by the Mediterranean. We walked part of the GR 11 for 2,5 half days with start and finish in the little village of Queralbs. It can easily be shortened for an amazing one day´s hike.
How to get there?
Queralbs is only a 2 hour´s drive from Barcelona Airport. After less than an hour´s drive you will see the mountains of the Pyrenees rising up in front of you. After passing through the village Ribes de Freser, perfect for a lunch stop, you arrive in the little pretty village of Queralbs.
In Queralbs there is a parking where you can park your car by the Cremallera (train up to the monasterio de Nuria) or closer to the village for free. You can either take the creamallera all the way up to Nuria or walk along Route 11.4.
2,5 days hiking along GR11
Queralbs - Nuria - Coma de Vaca - Refugio de Ulldeter - Queralbs
Starting/Finishing point: Parking in Queralbs
Distance: 8-16 kilometres per day
Length of time: 3-8 hours per day
Ascent/Descent: +/-1000 per day
Water along the way: Yes
Shoes to choose: Hiking boots
Queralbs - Nuria
This hike GR 11.4 is very well signposted all the way and starts right by the parking in Queralbs.
Part of the path is with step stones. It is a very beautiful hike but a rather tough one with an ascent of almost 1200 metres in 7 kilometres.
About half way you reach a sign giving you the option to walk right or left. Choose the right one as it is more beautiful.
"It is a very beautiful hike but a rather tough one
with an ascent of almost 1200 metres in 7 kilometres."
Most of the way you follow a stream and is surrounded with high rock walls on both sides.
Just before arriving in Nuria there is a little hill, a viewpoint of Nuria. Climb up the hill and you will get a view of the monasterio de Nuria. This is where you will spend your first night.
An easier option is to take the cremallera (train) starting in Queralbs running all the way up to Nuria.
An option if you want to shorten it to a one day´s hike is to continue to Coma de Vaca and then down to Queralbs. It is a long and streneous hike but definately doable if you are used to hiking.
Where to stay and eat?
Part of the monasterio is an apartment hotel. It is simple, but the surroundings are beautiful. You can go by small boat on the lake and also have Nuria as a base for several days of hiking in the surroundings.
There is a cafe and a restaurant at the hotel.
Nuria - Coma de Vaca - refugio de Ulldeter
Today´s hike will follow the lovely Camino dels enginyers GR 11.7 from Nuria to the refugio of Coma de Vaca where you will cross the river Freser.
From Nuria to Coma de Vaca is a 3 hours really lovely hike passing several streams and meadows with wild horses. The acent is 400 metres, descent 300 metres and the distance 10 kilometres.
Arriving in Coma de Vaca you have the perfect place for a lunch brake by the river Freser. The refugio is closed in day time.
From Coma de Vaca you then continue along the valley to refugio de Ulldeter. You can also choose to shorten the hike by heading down for Queralbs, about 1000 metres lovely descent taking you a little less than 3 hours.
From Coma de Vaca you have a 2,5-3 hours hike for 6 kilometres to refugio de Ulldeter, your place for the second night´s overnight stay. The path first runs through a beautiful valley. Thereafter is a rather heavy ascent to a ridge from where you have a descent all the way down to refugio de Ulldeter.
Reservations for overnight stay at the refugio is necessary and you can buy dinner, breakfast and a lunch pack. Check payment before, you might need to bring cash.
Refugio de Ulldeter - Queralbs
The views from refugio de Ulldeter are lovely. After admiring the surroundings you have a really nice half day´s hike back to Queralbs following the same way back as the day before passing by Coma de Vaca.
"The views from refugio de Ulldeter are lovely."
Most of the 16 kilometres is an easy descent and will take you about 4-5 hours.
After arriving in Queralbs you have a 2 hours drive to Barcelona. If you choose to continue to Costa Brava you have also a 2 hours drive to for example Calella de Palafrugell.
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