TOPO Hiking

Carança Gorge, Catalan Pyrenees

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In the heart of the Catalan Pyrenees National Park, a vertigo trail has been equipped to take you up the Carança Gorges in a playful and quite aerial way. Footbridges and suspension bridges over the torrent, life-line ledges overlooking the gorges, forest paths at the foot of the cliffs - everything seems to come together to make a beautiful route, but the (very) high summer season visitor numbers mean that it loses a little of its cachet. The equipment is in perfect condition and the route could easily be classified as a "via ferrata", even if people do not use any equipment at all. The option of starting from the Corniche, another equipped route at the entrance to the gorge, is worth considering. All in all, a lovely walk to be enjoyed out of season, for greater peace and quiet.

Technical summary

Type ✦ Equipped hike

Location ✦ Thuès-Entre-Valls

Region ✦ Pyrénées Orientales

Country ✦ France

Length ✦ 9kms

Vertical drop ✦ 500m

Difficulty ✦ MD

Duration ✦ 3h to 3h30

Interest ✦ ★

Access to the place

On the N116 between Font-Romeu and Perpignan, stop at the village of Thuès-Entre-Valls (near Olette). Cross the road to reach the Gorges parking lot (fee payable in high season).

Map & topo

Voir en plein écran

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 10'

Leave the parking lot and enter the gorge through a small arch. Follow the path along the right bank cliff. You'll soon reach the bridge that marks the start of the trail, which is also the return point for the right-bank path.

Course

The trail is advertised as "vertiginous" and "at the hiker's own risk". While the starting ledges are indeed aerial, the section equipped with footbridges and suspension bridges is not particularly vertiginous. The equipment in place is excellent, with a new, sheathed cable and fixing points in very good condition. The footbridges have suffered a few rock falls but are solid, and the suspension bridges are equally satisfactory. No particular difficulties other than the aerial passages. A helmet and some climbing gear might be in order. The equipped trail between footbridges and bridges is mainly located after the gorge loop.


Part 1: aerial switchbacks (45′)

Climb steeply up the left bank for 15′ to reach the path coming from the ledge. Turn left and stay on the path below. A sign indicates the vertigo trail. This is followed by a long series of very aerial ledges, carved into the rock and overhanging the torrent by more than 60m. Gradually, despite a number of gentle crossings, you reach the level of the torrent bed, which rises as you ascend the gorge. A 1st ladder and a 1st footbridge lead to a small dam. Further on, the 1st suspension bridge joins the right bank and the junction with the return path.


Part 2: footbridges and bridges (45′)

This eastern section takes place alternately on the right and left banks of the Carança, sometimes at torrent level, sometimes a few meters up, but without really gaining height. Small ladders provide access to footbridges and suspension bridges over the river. Unless I'm mistaken, there are 6 crossings of the Carança, 4 of which are suspension bridges.


Part 3: the return path on the right bank (1h30)

Turning back at the stone bridge, you cross the series of footbridges and bridges to return to the junction with the right bank path. The path climbs steeply upwards, this time overlooking the torrent on the opposite side. In places, you can see the equipped trail and the left-bank ledges. At the highest point, we cross small shoulders and rocky gaps before winding down to the starting bridge.

Back

Same path as the approach in reverse.

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