Menu Hamburger Logo Menu close Logo
Barcelona Travel Hacks home logo

French Pyrenees Weekend - Gorges de Carançà

12km circular scenic hike along Carançà river valley via suspension bridges and canyon side walkways along a forested Pyrenees mountain river

Updated: Jun 28, 2024 by: Barcelona Travel Hacks Views: 142

About Gorges de Carançà River hike

The Gorges de Carançà is a challenging forested river valley hike with a vertigo inducing cliff cutting path, suspension bridges and metal walkways (pasarelas), 10 in total, that cross the river and provide a skyway walking route along canyons.

The route is a 12 kilometre circular route from the tiny village of Thuès entre Valls in the French Catalan Pyrénées Orientales Natural Park where you will find the pay parking, a campsite, a picnic area, kiosk selling cold drinks and ice-cream. The village is also served by the famous Yellow Train.

The ledge cut from the sheer 1000 metre high rock face was excavated in 1943 to serve as an access route for the tunnelling of the Carançà river valley. It was initially used to transport a wagon on a rail that transported the material and the stones to the sites of the hydroelectric power station located deeper in the mountain.

The Carançà river valley is formed by the union of three torrents: Carançà, Coume Mixiame and Bassibès where it flows into the Têt river at Thuès entre Valls.

Gorges de Carançà also has a very rich flora and fauna that you can find only in the Pyrenees such as Pyrenean chamois, golden eagle and Pyrenean desman (or Iberian desman), a small semiaquatic mammal related to moles and shrews.

The Gorges de Carançà Hiking Route

Starting at the Parking Municipal Gorges de Carançà, the route takes the gravel road under a bridge (carrying the yellow train railway line) and continues straight along a path that parallels the river. When you get to s stone and concrete bridge crossing the river, continue straight on the same path and follow it as it climbs up the side of the valley and gradually moves away from the river. Along this path there are several rocky outcrops (Roc de la Foradada, Roc de la Madriu and Salt del Lindo) where we can view across to the other side of the valley to see the return path via the rock ledge.

Continue following the ascending and descending mountain path through the forest for about three kilometres and it descends down into the river valley. When you reach the river take a left turn and shortly after crossing a small stream there is a metal walkway bridge crossing the river. When you look up the river from the bridge you are rewarded with views of the river as it cascades over large boulders forming small waterfalls.

Continue along the path in the river valley and after a few hundred metres you are confronted with a 2 metre high steel ladder that leads up to a walkway along the side of the cliff and crosses the river further up via a suspension foot bridge. as you reach the ground on the opposite bank of the river the path continues for 50 or so metres before another steel ladder leads onto a walkway along the side of the canyon. Take care along this pasarelas because it does not have a hand rail or any kind of fall protection.

At the end of this section of metal walkway there is a metal ladder leading back down to the ground. I recommend taking the ladder backwards, i.e. facing the ladder to descend for obvious safety reasons. From here the path enters a beautiful section of green forested path following the river. It might be tempting to take a swim in this river but if you look closely you will see many boulders and swirling currents of the fast flowing river and there is a real danger of getting swept away by the current. However, I did sit on the bank and dunk my feet.

after about 500 metres in the forest, there is another ladder up to a metal walkway, again with no hand rail or fall protection. This walkway has a suspension bridge in the middle crossing the river between the cliffs of the canyon. follow the same precautions descending the ladder at the end.

The path again enters a forested zone with a beautiful radiant green canopy as it follows a route next to the river and crosses the river via a metal footbridge at ground level. The return route is via the same bridges and metal walkways so it is possible to turn back here however I recommend continuing over the next metal bridge and then a little further for about 1km to the stone bridge Pont de Pierre before turning back.

On the way back the route passes via an additional suspension bridge and walkway and the path bears of to the left starting the rock cutting ledge section. Along this 1.2 kilometre section of high cliff side path there are multiple viewpoints across the valley. The path crosses a footbridge. a little further along the trail continue straight and do not take the right path. This is a more scenic route that snakes around the mountain and passes through a short tunnel before swinging to the left.

When you reach the Prise d'Eau Supérieur, an upper water station for a hydroelectric plant, look out for a trail on the right hand side and take this trail as it snakes down the mountain. This trail reaches a bridge to cross the Carançà river for the last time where you will find a cabin bar La Guinguetta de Carançà, for refreshments. My top tip for this bar is not to drink too much and need the bar toilet, Well it is not a toilet but a hole in the ground in a wooden outhouse that you have to squat down to use.

Visiting Gorges de Carançà River hike

This circuit is demanding, and not recommended for people prone to vertigo.

According to local websites, dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. However, having done this hike with a dog what I found is that the metal walkways have a grill mesh that means that dog paws cannot walk on them so the dog has to be carried over the bridges and walkways. If your dog is the size of a small pony this route is not viable.

I would allow five to seven hours to complete this route and recommend an overnight stay in Thuès entre Valls or in Vernet-les-Bains completing the Saint-Martin-Canigou abbey route on the second day.

What to take with you for Gorges de Carançà River hike

I take a small 30L hiking rucksack and carry three litres of water to do this route wearing comfortable and sturdy hiking boots or shoes.

Gorges de Carançà River hike Summary of Prices

Train/Bus Fare Entry Ticket Additional Information Train/Bus Fare Entry Ticket Additional Information Adult € 0.00 € 0.00 65€ based on 4 people sharing a room for 2 nights Child € 0.00 € 0.00 Group/Family Ticket? 65€ based on 4 people sharing an apartment for two nightsNotes toll Tunel de Cadí (€13.93 for a car), Gorges de Carançà parking (€5 for a car)

Getting to Gorges de Carançà River hike

Address: Mas de Bordes Camping, Thuès-Entre-Valls, France. 66360

Leave Barcelona via the C58 motorway passing Sabadell and Terrasa and transition onto the C16 passing Berga. Take the toll Tunnel de Cadí (€13.93 for a car) and after passing the toll booths at the northern end there is a service station Àrea de Servei Túnel del Cadí - Porta Cerdanya. immediately after the service station is junction onto the C162 towards Puigcerdà.

At Puigcerdà cross the border into France taking the N116 to Mont-Louis. At Mont-Louis roundabout, Continue along the N116 towards Fontpédrouse and shortly after this village there is a left hand turn off into Thuès entre Valls where you will find the Parking Municipal Gorges de Carançà.

The parking costs €5 for 12 hours and €10 for 24 hours,

Documents for Gorges de Carançà River hike

Click on any one of the 2 PDFs to view in full screen and download.

Wikiloc Trail for Gorges de Carançà River hike

a0348 - Gorges de Carança River Hike

14km circular scenic hike along Carançà river valley via suspension bridges and canyon side walkways along a forested Pyrenees mountain river

Distance: 12 Km

Difficulty: Medium

Return Travel Fare: By Car

Transport Network: Car

Weather for Thuès-Entre-Valls, France

Where to stay overnight for Gorges de Carançà River hike

Things to do near Gorges de Carançà River hike

Tags for Gorges de Carançà River hike

Thanks for reading about French Pyrenees Weekend - Gorges de Carançà

Ask a question via Facebook

Please support me

Happy travels and exploring.