Pyrenees Overview

Pyrenees National Park (Parc National des Pyrénées), established in 1967, is a captivating expanse of wilderness located along the French-Spanish border, stretching through the regions of Occitanie and Nouvelle-Aquitaine in southwestern France. This park spans an impressive area of about 457 square kilometers (approximately 176 square miles) of core zone, with a peripheral protection zone that extends over roughly 2,060 square kilometers (about 795 square miles), encompassing parts of the Pyrenees mountain range. This designation ensures the conservation of both the park’s pristine natural environments and the cultural landscapes of the surrounding areas.

The Pyrenees National Park is celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes, which include towering peaks, serene glacial lakes, verdant valleys, and cascading waterfalls. The park’s diverse terrain offers a sanctuary to a rich variety of flora and fauna. It is home to emblematic species such as the Pyrenean chamois, marmots, and the majestic bearded vulture, as well as a plethora of endemic plants that thrive in its unique climatic conditions.

One of the park’s distinguishing features is its commitment to preserving the natural environment while also maintaining the cultural heritage of the Pyrenean communities. Traditional pastoralism practices continue within the park, showcasing a harmonious balance between human activity and nature conservation.

Pyrenees National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering countless opportunities for hiking, mountaineering, skiing, and snowshoeing. Its extensive network of trails allows visitors to explore the natural beauty of the Pyrenees, from the accessible paths suitable for families to the challenging routes that appeal to experienced adventurers.

The park also plays a crucial role in environmental education and research, promoting awareness of the importance of biodiversity and the need for sustainable management of natural resources. With its stunning scenery, rich biodiversity, and cultural significance, Pyrenees National Park stands as a testament to the beauty and ecological importance of the Pyrenees mountain range, inviting visitors to discover its enchanting landscapes and diverse ecosystems.

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Park Map
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Pyrenees National Park Pictures

Pyrenees National Park Trails

Brèche de Roland

Rating: Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8 miles (13 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of 3,280 feet (1,000 meters)

Description: This iconic hike leads to the famous gap in the mountains, Brèche de Roland, a natural rock formation.

The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks and glacial valleys. It’s a challenging route, requiring good physical condition, but the panoramic vistas at the top are unparalleled.

Lac de Gaube

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3.5 miles (5.6 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of 590 feet (180 meters)

Description: This family-friendly hike takes you to the beautiful Lac de Gaube, offering breathtaking views of Vignemale, the highest peak in the French Pyrenees.

The trail is well-maintained, with the option to take a chairlift partway, making it accessible for most fitness levels.

Pic du Midi d'Ossau Trail

Rating: Challenging

Distance and Elevation Gain: 7 miles (11 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of 2,950 feet (900 meters)

Description: This strenuous hike is for experienced hikers seeking a challenge.

The iconic Pic du Midi d’Ossau offers dramatic scenery, steep climbs, and requires some scrambling.

The summit provides sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Gavarnie Falls

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.5 miles (7.2 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet (400 meters)

Description: This scenic hike leads to Europe’s highest waterfall, Gavarnie Falls.

The path offers spectacular views of the cirque and the waterfall. It’s suitable for most hikers and is especially rewarding in spring and early summer when the falls are at their fullest.

Cirque de Troumouse

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 6 miles (9.7 km) round trip, with an elevation gain of 1,640 feet (500 meters)

Description: One of the less crowded alternatives to Gavarnie, the Cirque de Troumouse offers equally stunning mountain landscapes.

This moderately challenging hike provides incredible views of the vast cirque, wildflowers, and potentially wildlife sightings.

Related National Parks

  • All Trails, Best Trails in Pyrenees National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Pyrenees,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Embark, Pyrenees National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • France, Pyrenees,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Pyrenees National Park, France,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Pyrenees – Mont Perdu,, retrieved April 2024.