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Pic d’Ouxis and Pic de la Baynaye

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This little-known itinerary to the Pic d'Ouxis offers a spectacular route through the heart of the Orlu National Reserve in Haute Ariège. Above the forest, you reach the splendid Jasse de Parau at 2000m. Higher up, ponds scattered across a wide upper valley beneath the Pics de Pinet, d'Ouxis and de la Baynaye between 2400 and 2500m. The Pic d'Ouxis can be reached by joining the north ridge, with a few easy but airy steps, then following the dome that leads to the summit. From here, the chosen option is to descend to Couillade de la Lauze, then tackle the nearby Pic de la Baynaye before following the ridge overlooking Etang de Naguille. At the end of the route, you have to improvise off-trail to reach the eastern shores of the pond via Coume de Menier and then the Naguille dam. This is a beautiful, little-frequented run, which could possibly be combined with a return trip on the more obvious GR de Pays Tour de la Montagne d'Ax.

Au-dessus de la Jasse de Parau

Technical summary

Type ✦ Hiking
Location ✦ Orlu
Region ✦ Ariège
Country ✦ France
Max altitude ✦ 2510m
Distance ✦ 18,2km
Vertical drop ✦ 1750m
Difficulty ✦ E3 / T3 / R3
Duration ✦ 7h30 to 9h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

From Ax-les-Thermes, climb towards Mérens and Andorra, and just outside Ax, turn left towards Oriège. Pass through the village and continue to Orlu. Cross Orlu and continue to Forges d'Orlu (Musée de l'observatoire de la Montagne). Here, take the small road that climbs to the left, before heading further east into the valley towards Fanguil. Before you reach it, there's a small bridge over the Oriège, the Pont de Bisp. Park here. Ideally, if you have 2 vehicles, leave one at the forges to avoid the return trip between the forges and the Pont de Bisp.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 2'

Cross the Bisp bridge and turn left on the footpath for 50m to find the wide path leading up to the Jasse de Parrau. The route shown on the map does not correspond to the actual terrain.

Course 5h à 6

The route proposed here includes off-trail sections and a few sections where you'll need to use your hands, sometimes in exposed areas (III max). The paths are relatively well marked, but there are no markers or cairns. It is highly recommended to have your GPS track and geolocation equipment with you. The hike can be simplified by returning via the GR Tour du pays d'Ax or round-trip to the Pic d'Ouxis.

Part 1: Jasse de Parrau (2001m, 1h45 to 2h)

Climb the wide path, leaving it after 10/15' to continue through the beech forest on a smaller, steeper and less visible path. You quickly rise with the Dent d'Orlu at your back. You cross the ruisseau de Chourlot further up and after about 1h, you emerge from the forest onto a small open plateau at the foot of Pujol de Chourlot, at 1600m. Peaks can be seen to the south, protruding over a pass towards which we'll be heading.

The trail heads south, on a false flat, then climbs again to give us access to an upper valley leading to the Jasse de Parau. For the 1st time, you can see what appears to be the Pic de Cimet. Continue up the valley, passing to the right of a huge boulder, then the path will cross a final obstacle with a right/left bend. A small rounded ridge leads directly to the Jasse de Parrau hut. A magnificent cirque formed by the eastern walls of the Pics de Roque Rouge and Pic de Parrau.

On the south-east side, you can see the Couillade de la Greulière, and on the south side, the Couillade de Pinet, through which you'll pass to reach the Pic d'Ouxis.
Section 2: Pic d'Ouxis (2510m, 1h30)

From the hut, head due south on a moderately visible path, but always aiming for the Couillade de Pinet. The path then veers westwards towards the large walls, returning southwards at a higher altitude. After 20', you reach the Couillade de Pinet, where you discover small ponds, now frozen. This time we see the Pic d'Ouxis. At the 2nd pond, we decide to head east and climb steeply to the off-trail ridge. We pass over a rocky bar and then traverse a little to reach the southern crest of the Pic d'Ouxis without too much difficulty. If you traverse for longer, you can reach the ridge by avoiding a few exposed aerial steps.

30 minutes on the ridge to the summit. The first section is aerial, with a few handholds to negotiate and a fair amount of emptiness on the east side. The 2nd section climbs a rounded ridge without difficulty to the summit of Pic d'Ouxis.
Part 3: Pic de Baynaye and the ridges, Coume Menier (1h15 to 1h30)

From the summit of Pic d'Ouxis, descend the West ridge without difficulty, but with a few aerial passages. You soon come to the Couillade de la Llauze at 2364m. Head straight ahead on a visible path to the Pic de Baynaye (2412m). Then continue north along the ridges. There is a fairly visible path. You'll soon find yourself above the west-side Etang de Naguille. Continue along the ridges, which eventually descend to the Coume Menier on the right and a small pond at the bottom.

Descend to the east and at the bottom follow the small Coume Menier valley along a small torrent, heading back north to join another, larger torrent, which descends directly towards Etang de Naguille. On the map, there's a trail, but on the ground it's hardly visible. Improvise your way down to the banks of Etang de Naguille.
Part 4: The banks of Etang de Naguille (45' to 1h)

Now join the GR on the other side of the dam. Follow the steep banks of the pond, with many sections to negotiate with hands balanced above the water (IV max). The final section seems impossible if you stay at the water's edge. Climb up the gispet to pass over the dam, then descend completely off-trail to an old mine (?) where the GR de pays passes.


Descend the GR path marked in red and yellow. Not too steep at the start, then past a metal sign for the Orlu national reserve, the path begins an interminable descent into the coume des Gnioles, crosses the Eychouzé stream and ends at the bottom of the Forges d'Orlu, 900m of negative gradient from the dam. If a second vehicle has been dropped off at the start, it's all over, otherwise there's still the climb back up to the Pont de Bisp via the GR de Pays (200m more d+!).

Map & topo

In blue, the completed loop. In yellow, the return option via the GR and around the Etang de Naguille (indicative route).

Voir en plein écran



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