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Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Huesca, Aragón

The Cola de Caballo via the Gradas de Soaso

Torla

Huesca

The classic Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park route


This is one of the most popular trails in the Pyrenees, as well as one of the most beautiful. With the mountains as a backdrop, the path runs through the landscape of the Ordesa Valley, crossing meadows and leafy forests to reveal spectacular waterfalls.

The Cola de Caballo is an emblematic hiking route in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Each year, a great many visitors decide to set out on the 17.5 kilometre journey (there and back) to enjoy the Pyrenees and the striking beauty of the Ordesa Valley, one of the most important protected natural spaces in Europe, which furthermore has been declared a National Heritage site. 

The route to the famous Cola de Caballo waterfall is a comfortable, easy route, without too much elevation gain, that presents no technical difficulty. It’s well signposted and the pathways are in very good condition, which means that it’s suitable for everyone. It takes around three hours to reach the waterfall, and as the way back is downhill, it’s quicker.

Waterfalls: when the river becomes a spectacle

Pradera de Ordesa is the starting point for several routes that run through the valley of the same name, among these the Cola de Caballo. From the car park, take the track and follow the signs to the waterfall. The whole of the trail is part of the long distance GR-11 route, which is also signposted with the usual red and white markers. The path runs along the banks of the Arazas river, climbing gently and leading into the forest until reaching the viewpoint over the first waterfall on the route, Arripas. The trail continues to the left, gradually winding into a pretty beech forest. The next falls are just a little further on, the Cascada del Estrecho. 

Images of the Cola de Caballo route in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Huesca, Aragón

Afterwards the path continues to climb, up towards the Franchinal Cave section where it’s half covered by overhanging rock, and then on to the stepped waterfalls of the Gradas de Soaso. If you look up, you’ll see the peaks of Monte Perdido in the distance. The landscape changes, with meadows beginning to appear as you walk towards the Soaso glacial cirque and the end of the route, where you’ll find the Cola de Caballo waterfall. Then it’s back the same way, although when you get to the Arripas waterfall you have the option of taking a turn off, crossing the bridge, and returning to Pradera de Ordesa via the other bank of the river.

Images of the Cola de Caballo route in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park in Huesca, Aragón

The circular Cola de Caballo route via the Senda de los Cazadores

You could also choose to do the circular Cola de Caballo route via the Senda de los Cazadores and Faja de Pelay. This is a less well-trodden route, and a more demanding one, as it’s longer and the elevation gain is greater, making it a good alternative for experienced hikers. It’s 20 kilometres long, and starts out from the same place, from Pradera de Ordesa, although in this case you’ll need to take the path that runs in the direction of the Senda de los Cazadores.

Tips and recommendations

How to get there

Access is via Torla, located 25 km from Biescas, and some 45 km from Aínsa and Sabiñánigo taking the N-260 main road. The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park Visitor Centre is located in Torla (Avenida de Ordesa, s/n. 22376 - Torla). It’s open all year round, and has a car park. Buses to Pradera de Ordesa run every 15-20 minutes from Torla. At Pradera de Ordesa there’s also a car park where you can leave your vehicle, except during Easter Week and in the summer. At those times you need to park at the Torla Visitor Centre, and the Pradera can only be reached by bus. We recommend checking the calendar and bus times by calling the Visitor Centre (tel. +34 974 486 472).

Torla, in Huesca, Aragón

Things to bear in mind

As well as the Torla Visitor Centre, there’s an information point at Pradera de Ordesa where you can find out about all the different routes and activities you can do in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. Spring and autumn are particularly good times for doing a hiking route. Walking through the beech forest in all its brilliantly coloured autumn glory is a magical experience. Summer is a good time as well, although you need to remember that there will be more people, and there may not be so much water in the waterfalls. It’s always a good idea to take plenty of water, food and snacks (chocolate, nuts, fruit, etc.) to keep your energy levels up. Follow the signs and markings, and be sure to wear suitable clothing and footwear. A hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses are also essential items to carry in your backpack, especially in the summer months. 

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