In this trip report we are willing to share with you one of our favorite one-day hikes that we did in the late October in Eastern Pyrenees, France. It is a 17km hike that starts in Thues-Entre-Valls following the railway of the Yellow Trail for a while with the two biggest and most beautiful bridges, passing by the waterfalls and lots of forest paths and finishing off in Mont-Louis village.
We started our day by taking the Yellow Train in order to get from Cerdanya valley to the Thues-Entre-Valls town. It was a nice 40 minute ride to do on such bright October day. We could enjoy amazing views from the wagon and getting out to the open parts of it.
Then we passed the Thues-Entre-Valls town that was standing on a quite steep mountain side and soon got to the Les Gorges de la Caranca site which was a special hiking path following the gorge and the river below with some steep rocky and challenging parts.
We had to conquer the uphill of several hundred meters right at the start in order to get to our trail. It was rocky and quite steep but not too long and soon we were out on our trek. Then the path began to follow the oak forest and was going quite flat along the mountain hill. From there we started to see the other side of the valley with its mountain peaks and colorful splashes of the trees.
On the first part of the trail we met several caves and holes in the rocks and were wondering whether it is safe to explore them. We knew that in this region there are quite a few of big caves where you can take an excursion but these smaller ones looked quite neglected.
From time to time, the trail was descending down to the river and then coming up again. But for the most part it was going flat twisting along the mountain and following gentle uphill that wasn’t too noticeable. We were following the yellow signs of the local trek named hiking along the Yellow train.
The day was warm and sunny and we couldn’t choose the better day for hiking there. The sun was low on the horizon and it was giving a beautiful golden light and reflections on all the bright leaves surrounding us. The temperature got up to +20C that day and so the conditions were more than comfortable for hiking.
While we were on this trail, it came to our mind that we did it every year since we moved to the region and every time it was in the mid to late October. We believe it is the best season to hike this trail to be able to witness all those beautiful colors of the forest and walk on dry leaves. It is a pure therapy in itself.
Soon we started getting the wonderful views on the first major bridge of the Yellow Train railway from above – the rocky Pont Sejourne. It was built at the start of the 20th century as was the railway itself. We could see it from all the sides from the trail, first getting towards it and then a much closer look when we got to the other side of it. It was a glorious airy construction with many beautiful arches going all the way down to the very bottom of the gorge and the river. And with the multicolored foliage at that time of the year it made the picture even more breathtaking. We were very happy that we did travel by this Train today as we rarely do it. It has become more of a touristic attraction nowadays than a public transport and thus was quite expensive to take. But this historical railway has inspired us so much that we even made a documentary movie about it some time ago showcasing it from the outside as well as the inside and travelling through different seasons. This railway is a must to take in our opinion as it is one of the main jewels of the region.
After enjoying the magnificent views of the bridge, we met on the way the small cave through which the trail was going and we thought it was quite special too. The way got quite narrow for some time, we had to walk at the very edge of the mountainside, and the rocks were surrounding us from above and the sides.
We continued to hike through the oak forest with lots of yellow leaves on the trees and under our feet. These oaks were of a smaller size because of the conditions they grow in on the side of the rock but were still very beautiful and a joy to walk in their shade.
From time to time we were getting to the open views of the valley in front of us and the car road twisting on the other side of the gorge.
The trail was coming down gradually to the river and soon we were walking alongside of the riverbank. The path under our feet was full of the maple leaves and it was a pleasure to walk on such soft bouncy ground. The smells of the autumn forest were very delicious too and we tried to breathe as deep as we possibly could.
So we were walking very nice and easy along the rapid mountain river, had to cross several wooden bridges across the smaller streams and came out to the beautiful waterfall hidden in between the rocks. It wasn’t too big but the water stream coming down was quite powerful and made the crashing sound bouncing off the rocks below. It was a spectacular and soothing scene of the thin line of water coming down to a crystal clear pond and the golden leaves left on the wet rocks framing the waterfall.
We did spend a good couple of minutes there contemplating the picture but had to keep going soon to keep up with the pace. We passed by the camping Al Baus and entered the next town Fontpedrouse which was very similar to the Thues-Entre Valls.
After we came out on the secondary car road and following this flat and peaceful route got to the village Saint Thomas that was a tiny one with only several rocky houses in it. At that point, we were at the middle of our journey and had to make 8 to 9kms more.
There we faced another major uphill for the day of several hundred meters that was rocky and steep. The views all around us were very beautiful, and we could enjoy seeing the mountain hills covered in autumn forest on one side and the track of the Yellow Train twisting alongside the slope on the other. And we actually were lucky enough to spot the Yellow Train itself travelling through the gorge, because of its bright color it was hard not to notice it.
At one point following the uphill we decided to have our lunch break at one of the panoramic spots as it was just about time and we felt very hungry. From there the trail started to go more flat again and was nicely following the forest line. There we came out to the viewpoint in between the trees from which we could see the other major bridge of the Yellow Train – Pont Gisclard. It was very different construction wise and made out of metal instead of the rocks. It did look very elegant and almost as if it was floating in the air. We could tell that at that time there were many experiments and new technologies tried when building this train line.
After some time the forest started to thin out and we already could see the Mont-Louis Fortified site in the distance which was our final destination for the day. The view was amazing again with the multicolored foliage and snowy peaks behind it.
We did walk through the fields and small forests on the trail full of leaves for some time and really enjoyed the peacefulness and serenity of the places in such beautiful golden evening light.
Soon we entered the small village Planes and came out on our final stretch to the Mont-Louis Fort. There we hiked on the old bricked route which was very nice and after several kilometers came to our final point. We had just enough time of daylight left to get back home.
It was a great hiking day for us that we enjoyed a lot. The weather was really nice and warm and the bright colors around us were setting up the right mood. We could enjoy many amazing views on the way and walked through a lot of peaceful and scenic paths. It is one of the only trails that actually allows you to follow the railway of the Yellow Train for some time and see the unique architecture of the bridges and learn more about its history. The trail itself wasn’t too challenging and had only several ascends that were still quite manageable. It makes this trail accessible to everybody and a great idea for a one-day hike in the region.
If you are interested in exploring more hiking trips in Pyrenees you can check out our other hike reports from the region here: