In this trip report we are going to share Day 2 of our hike around the lakes of the Carlit mountain range in Bouillouses natural site, Eastern Pyrenees, France. It is a 26 kms hike with the elevation change of around 800m. This is an easy to moderate hike that is accessible to most of the people. It is a wonderful opportunity to get to know the region more and enjoy beautiful mountainous landscapes.
The day began early in the morning with the first rays of the sun hitting our tent. At night we had a hard time battling with the cold air and trying to fall asleep. Even though there was no wind at all and it was the quietest night in the forest the air was very chilly and we had to cuddle up in the sleeping bags. We had our breakfast just heating up our food cooked from yesterday and wrapped all our things up.
That day we had quite a big plan – to go over 12 lakes in the region and get back to the starting point in Font Romeu Odeillo Via. So we got out on the trail to the same Lake de Viver where we stopped yesterday and started to move along the lake side. It was quite a big lake hugged by the mountain hills from all sides. The trail was going constantly uphill through the rocks and that way we were getting close to Estany de la Duques. While hiking we were meeting many beautiful and flat places to camp.
When we went out to the next lake the cold wind started to blow at us fiercely and we had to put on our jackets. From there the landscapes became more rugged and rocky with less trees and greenery around. The trail was still following a gentle uphill when we were walking by the three highest lakes here Estany del Castellar, Estany de Trebens and Estany de Sobirans. Because we started to hike the circle in reverse direction of what’s adviced on the signs we met less people on the way. Most of them were just starting the hike on the other side.
At one of the lakes we met a herd of horses pasturing freely with a handsome long-haired male in the middle and many cute baby horses laying around. We knew that this area is heavily used by farmers to pasture the cows and horses in summer because of the amount of wetlands.
During this high part we could enjoy the constant mesmerizing views of the peak Carlit range and its massive rocky edges. It brought us to a memorable time when we were ascending the peak Carlit itself and were climbing with the hands to it and then running down from the storm. It was probably one of the epic peaks we’ve ever conquered in the region.
So in such way we got to the middle point of the circle and highest point at the same time where the trail was turning back to the lake Bouillouses. From this point on we were going mostly downhill. There on the crossroads we met several people with big backpacks that were looking very tanned and probably were already hiking for quite a while. So we were wandering whether they were doing the long distance HRP(High Pyrenees Route) or GR 10 route (Great Pyrenees Crossing) one of which we were thinking of doing ourselves this year.
So we started to hike downhill and very soon saw the other quite big lake in the distance Estany Llong and very small one Lac Bailleul. At this point it was already the middle of the day and we began to feel very hot walking in the direct sunlight without any shadow for several hours.
So we were getting down skipping on the rocks (trekking poles were very helpful to get the pressure out of the legs and knees) walked by the Estany de la Comassa, Estany Sec and finally Estany Negre. These lakes were located a bit lower and thus had a more green picture with lots of pine trees and meadows around. Also throughout our hike we met plenty of fish men and we knew that there is quite a lot of fish living in lakes. On one of the lakes we met a duck mother with many little ducklings that were behaving very carelessly and funny.
We had our lunch break in the shadow of the trees there and were out on the trail again to get to the last three lakes we planned to hike along. They were located on the other side of the lake Bouillouses and were forming part of the different lake group. After getting through a rocky downhill and crowded trail we were out at the lake Bouillouses again. There at the hotel we bought some cookies for the snack because we were running out of food and headed to the next part of the trail.
Those 3 last lakes were named Estany del Reco, Estany Llong and Estany Negre. In order to get to the first one we had to hike uphill for some time in the shadow of the forest luckily and then a view to the lake opened to our eyes. The trail was going very close to the lakeside and reminded more of a huge rock fall than the path. So we had to use our hands to get through it. Then the way to the middle lake was mostly a steep downhill with many little rocks, roots of the trees and pinecones on the path. So we can say this part hiking along the last 3 lakes was the most challenging out of all hike. Estany Llong looked very beautiful and picturesque in the evening light and had several possible spots to camp as well. The third lake Estany Negre was situated very close to the middle one and we did not notice how we got there.
Talking about the water sources, unfortunately there aren’t any in the area and you have to bring the water filter in order to use the water from the lakes or small river channels. We used this one for cooking and brought most of drinking water with us. Of course, you can resupply in the hotel as well if needed.
To finish off our hike we had to come back to the Etang de Pradeilles where we started yesterday and then get back to Font Romeu following quite an easy trail. It was very tempting to stay here for one more night at the lakeside as it looked so peaceful and calm. But as we didn’t have enough food supplies with us we had to keep going. In the end we were very happy that we could discover all the lakes in the region and hike this scenic trail.
Overall we enjoyed this hike a lot, it was very interesting and beautiful with variety of different landscapes and different trails. So it was difficult to get bored with it. We did feel a bit exhausted at the end but that’s because we didn’t sleep very well and the second day around we did more than 15 kms which for the mountainous terrain and hot weather is not a short distance. We think it is accessible for all levels and is a great hike to discover the nature beauty of the region.
Here is the link to Google map to follow the hike: