Despite being a really long route, the GR 11 Transpyrenaica is an exciting route for all types of hikers. This is because the adventure brings with it numerous landscapes, international steps, challenges for the bravest and the satisfaction of completing more than 400 kilometers of road.
Cataloged as the great path of the Pyrenees, traveling the GR11 Transpirenaica is a great feat that very few can achieve. Not so much because of the difficulty that route 11 may have, but because of how long it is.
There are 415 km of distance distributed from a minimum altitude of 5 meters to a maximum of 2,825 m, crossing two countries: 375 km of GR in Spain and 40 km in Andorra. Even if you decide to ride the Transpyrenean trail by road bike, this adventure will take a few days, so dividing the GR11 into stages is the best way to ride it.
In this case, this is a way to do the Trans-Pyrenean route on foot:
1. Cap de Creus – Sanctuary of Nuria: (207 km of route – 63 hours approximately)
The first section of the Trans- Pyrenean route begins at Cap de Creus, with a gentle route that alternates sections of road and dirt tracks with plenty of sun.
The first kilometers will be excellent to familiarize yourself with the signs of the Grand Tour , so it is recommended to pay attention, especially if you are doing the GR 11 alone.
You will find the first refuge on the route through the Pyrenees in El Puerto de la Selva and after a few kilometers in Vilamaniscle. From this town you should go to Requesens, a place where you begin to notice more of the nature of the GR de Catalunya Transpirenaica, since this section of the Pyrenees trip will be marked by changes in trails. Here the difficulty of the GR 11 route is officially increased in stages.
After Requesens you can follow the section of the Transpirenaica to La Vajol. During the tour you will achieve two things: a completely lonely GR route full of nature, and a busy passage through the town of La Jonquera with trains, highways and people asking what to see in the French Pyrenees before crossing the border.
After passing the town, your next stop will be Albanyà, but you must prepare for a section full of ups and downs. From Albanyà to Sant Aniol d’Aguja you will face the first mark of 1000 m of altitude, so you can take longer in this part of the route.
The seventh stage will begin when leaving Sant Aniol and arriving at Beget, crossing the Alta Garrotxa Space of Natural Interest. Once in Beget you should rest very well, because in order to reach Setcases you will have to climb to an altitude of 1865 m and go through many track changes.
From Setcases you will start the most difficult section so far , with a distance of 19.5 km at a maximum altitude of 2826 m to reach the famous Nuria Sanctuary and replenish all possible energy to continue.
Here you finally begin to see what the high mountains are, so in the routes marked for Wikiloc Transpirenaica, this sanctuary is usually a place that everyone enjoys. Officially, at this point, you will have achieved half of the journey.
2. Sanctuary of Nuria – Refuge of Conangles: (224 km of route – 73 hours approximately)
From this moment on, you will surely search for “GR 11 where to sleep” more frequently, since the second great section of the GR Pyrenees will become progressively more difficult, due to the altitude and the physical demands necessary to travel its paths.
The second half of the journey will begin through the forests until reaching the town of Planoles. Enjoy the comfortable ascent from this town to the Valle de la Cerdaña and Puigcerdá, since you will cover long kilometers, but it is one of the easiest sections despite being at a high altitude, so you should take it as preparation.
From Puigcerdá to the Malniu Refuge the constant climbs will begin, so you will have to take your time and get used to it. From Malniu to the Illa refuge you will be traveling routes with a minimum altitude of 2090 m and you will have to prepare to cross the border to Andorra.
Once you are in that country, you will begin to gradually descend and enjoy the Madriu-Perafita-Claro valley, declared a World Heritage Site . Your next stop will be in Encamp.
Between Encamp and the Baiau Refuge there are about 30 km of ascent that will again position you at more than 2700 meters of altitude , so you must prepare very well. Here you will be able to see the highest peak of the Pyrenees in Andorra, at 2939 m, and you will also have to say goodbye to the country to enter Catalonia again.
For days you will walk through smoother routes from the Baiau Refuge to the Mallafré Refuge. This long stretch will be full of nature and many rivers and lakes, making it a radical change of scene to the high mountains of Andorra.
The recommended stops from the Baiau Refuge will be at Àreu, Tavascan, Estaon and La Guingeta d’Àneu, before reaching the Mallafré Refuge. This entire section covers about 74 kilometers, so it is recommended that you enjoy yourself and prepare to start with more demanding stages after passing this point.
the final stretch
From the Mallafré Refuge you must go to the Colomers Refuge, once again reaching more than 2000 meters of altitude. This high mountain landscape is so impressive that many stay for a while in this place, visiting the Aigüestortes National Park.
Continuing with the route, you will have to face a 7.5 km route to the Restanca Refuge, in a constant ascent until the last point where you will have to descend until you reach the end of this section. You’ll see large rock formations and glacial lakes here, making it an excellent photo tour.
To finish, in the twenty-fourth section of this GR-11 Trans-Pyrenees route, you must go to the Conangles Refuge, the place where the Catalan sector of the Pyrenees ends.
After this, all you have to do is celebrate, take pride in traveling more than 400 kilometers of long and difficult routes and, above all, it is time to put away your hiking boots and rest to choose the next adventure.