Cauterets is the place to be if you are looking for a great base as an outdoor lover. In the city are lots of outdoor shops and this city is surrounded by beautiful hikes. Within a 12 minute drive you are at the beginning of the hike to Lac d’Estom, a beautiful back to basic hike in the wilderness of the Pyrenees in France.
Hike: Lac d’Estom, Pyrenees, France
Distance: 13 kilometers
Elevation: 434 meters (1370 m – 1804 m)
Parking: Parking de La Fruitiere, Rue de la Raillère, 65110 Cauterets
GPS: Download here
Water refill supply: yes, at the beginning and by the lake on top
TRAILHEAD OF THE HIKE TO LAC D'ESTOM
The hike to Lac d’Estom begins at the car park named La Fruitière, where a small mountain hut stands. In the mountain hut you can get some food and beverages. Right beside the restaurant there is the gate to the start to the trail. Right from the beginning of the trail you will feel calm and peaceful caused by the serene surroundings. The view from the beginning of the trail is almost fairytale-like with its wildflowers, mountain peaks and the sound of babbling brooks.
By the trailhead you will be welcomed by beautiful semi-wild horses. The horses are curious, but if you let them be, they will let you hike in peace. Quick reminder: Never feed wild animals!
THE TRAIL ITSELF
The path is easy to follow and lots of trailmarks guide you through the amazing landscape. Even the trail itself is beautiful: In the beginning the trail is wide with natural stones, but the more you climb the more narrow the paths get.
It is an easy to follow, but adventurous hike!
This hike is not crowded at all, even though the first path is almost completely flat. You’ll walk through a beautiful valley filled with wildflowers with a continuous view on the mountain peaks. In summary, the trail is absolutely breathtaking.
ABUNDANCE OF WILDLIFE ON THE TRAIL
Along the entire hike you hear cowbells clinging and now and then you see cows grazing in the distance. These cows are not that social and not used to humans. Just like the horses, which are hanging around the trailhead.
If you take your time for this trail, what is strongly recommended(!), bring your binoculars. In the beginning of the trail you will walk along side a small creek between two mountains. On these mountain sides you have a big chance to spot marmots or mountain goats.
Be aware to keep your distance from the wildlife you encounter along the trail.
While the first part of the hike to Lac d’Estom is almost completely flat, you will notice that the second part of the hike is more of a climb. Gradually the trail goes uphill for 434 meters to an altitude of 1804 meters. It is steep and uneven, but is not technical at all. Along the way there are beautiful viewpoints on the valley as well on the mountains. It is breathtaking, so if you have the time please enjoy the hike and stop every few meters to take the beauty in.
REACHING LAC D'ESTOM
While the elevation goes on, you will notice when you are getting closer to the lake, because the wind is picking up. With the first glimpse at the idyllic lake, you will forget about the wind. The mountain lake is beyond gorgeous with its clear blue/green water.
There is a mountain hut named Refuge d’Estom, with some small snacks and beverages. If you want you can make a loop around the lake or go hike further along mountaineering routes.
CONCLUSION: HIKING TO LAC D'ESTOM, PYRENEES IN FRANCE
If you are in the area of Cauterets, France, this hike to Lac d’Estom is a definite must! The trail is extremely quiet and if you are a beginner hiker, but want a bit more adventure, thans this trail is a good place to start. Especially because there are water refill options and food supplies. Plus: The chances to spot various wildlife are big! So, the hike to Lac d’Estom is a big recommendation!