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Faja Pelay, Canarellos and Racon, Ordesa

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This is an exceptional hike to discover the grand canyon of Ordesa, a large glacial valley in the Aragonese Pyrenees, at the foot of the Monte Perdido massif. Following a series of fajas or mid-height ledges between the Arazas river and the immense sculpted upper walls, the panoramas are spectacular from start to finish, particularly in autumn with the mosaic of forest colors and snow-capped peaks that dominate the valley. The route forms a long loop from west to east, criss-crossing the canyon almost in its entirety as far as the imposing Cola del Caballo waterfall, before returning under the Tobacor massif to the Tozal del mallo, passing several hundred metres below the famous Faja de los Flores we've already covered. An unmissable route in the Pyrenees!

Début de la faja Pelay

Technical summary

Type ✦ Hiking
Location ✦ Torla, Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park
Region ✦ Sobrarbe, Aragon
Country ✦ Spain
Orientation ✦ North then South
Max altitude ✦ 2190m
Distance ✦ 23.5km
Vertical drop ✦ 1755m
Difficulty ✦ E4 / T2 / R3
Duration ✦ 7h to 8h30
Interest ✦ ★★★

Access to the place

On the N-260 between Ainsa and Jaca in northern Aragon, turn off at Fiscal onto the N-260a and head north. Pass Broto and then Torla. Shortly afterwards, leave Bujaruelo on your left and take a right up a winding road to the Pradera parking lot. In high season, the road to the parking lot is closed, but a shuttle bus from Torla provides access to the national park and the start of the hikes.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 1h15 à 1h30, Mirador de Calcilarruego

From the bottom of the parking lot, take the path marked senda de los Cazadores and Faja Pelay. Cross the Rio Arazas and head straight for the walls on the senda de los cazadores. The well-marked forest path climbs steadily and yawingly, gradually approaching the upper walls. We're in the shade on a north-facing slope. Between the trees, you can start to enjoy views of the opposite walls and the Tozal del Mallo peak. After about 1 hour's ascent, there's a crossroads. Leave the ridge-climbing path on your right and climb back eastwards. You'll soon reach the Calcilarueggo viewpoint, an exceptional hanging balcony with an incredible view of the canyon, the opposite walls, the Cotatuero cirque and the snow-capped peaks of the Monte Perdido massif: the helmet and shoulder of Marboré. There's also a small wooden shelter in case of bad weather. An unmissable postcard photo!

Course 5h à 6h

The hike is essentially difficult in terms of distance and altitude difference, which are considerable for a day outing. The Fajas Petrals and Racon, in particular, are particularly exposed. Orientation is facilitated by well-marked (though unmarked) trails and signposts at every junction. The route can also be done in the opposite direction, as suggested on the topopyrenees.com website. The route can also be divided into 2 shorter hikes: the Faja Pelay / Cola del Caballo loop and the Faja Canarellos, Petrals, Racon and Luenga loop.

Part 1: Faja Pelay to Cola del Caballo (2h)

From the watchtower, follow the path behind the hut to the east. This is the start of a long traverse on a perfectly marked path that stays at an altitude of between 2100m and 2000m. It's wide and not very steep. The views of the massif and the walls to the north are incredible. Further on, we pass just below the upper walls of the Faja Pelay and gradually, as we follow the natural curve of the canyon, the snow-covered reliefs of Monte Perdido come into view. Soon you can see the canyon floor closing in. The trail then descends very slowly, passing below 1900m and then 1800m to reach the valley floor along the Rio Arazas. The superb Cola del Caballo waterfall gets bigger the closer you get. Here, at the foot of the waterfall, a number of people have arrived by the path below.
Transition (45' to 1h)

Pick up the main path at the bottom of the canyon along the Rio Arazas to go back. It's all flat for a while before descending with a few switchbacks to the right of a series of waterfalls, then the trail passes through the forest. Finally, amidst the trees, you'll find the fork on the right of the little path leading up to Faja Canarellos, Cirque de Cotatuero and Faja Racon (signposted).
Part 2: Fajas Canarellos and Petrals (1h15)

A gentle climb through the forest, with views over the valley beyond. There's an aerial passage across a fairly steep grassy slope, followed by a section at the foot of an overhanging wall. The path then passes a rocky ridge (chain to protect). It then heads back into the forest, but soon curves northwards. The Faja Canarellos gives way to the Faja Petrals. Soon, in front of us, the Pico Salarons and Mondarruego massif, its dizzying walls sheltering the Faja de Flores at the very top.

The route goes deeper and deeper towards the Barranco de Cotatuero under the cirque of the same name. The path then descends steeply to reach the small bridge over the Cotatuero river. Just after this, there's a crossroads: either head straight down to the Pradera parking lot, or continue towards the Faja Racon, the Cirque de Carriata and the Clavijas de Cotatuero.
Part 3: Fajas Racon and Luenga (1h to 1h15)

We quickly leave the forest to cross stony slopes, and this time the views are of the rocky bars on the east side beneath which the Fajas Canarellos and Petrals pass. Cross staircase slabs before climbing a notch into a field of prickly green tufts. Continue on to the base of the cliffs. The path then passes beneath a high orange waterfall that trickles down into a torrent plunging into the valley. End of the Faja Racon.

Continue along the flank to cross a new ridge, ascending slightly. Then it's back inland, and this time we're on the Faja Luenga. The Tozal del Mallo and its skyward-pointing summit can be seen through the trees, and you soon enter the grandiose Carriata cirque. Follow the path slightly downhill to find the junction with the return path and the path up to the clavijas.


From the fork, below the Cariatta cirque, descend through open country and then forest, on a rather steep path. Much lower down, the slope becomes gentler and you start to head back east. Finally, the path joins the road, which we follow a little further to reach the Pradera parking lot.

Map & topo

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