Refugi de L’illa – Refugi de Juclar
GRP ANDORRA (20,3 KM)
The second stage of the hike around Andorra starts after an overnight stay in Refugi de L’illa. L’illa is a manned mountain hut that originated from a former unmanned (free) mountain hut. This place to spend the night is built on a strategic location, a point where many routes converge. You can reach the hut from the Madriu-Perafita-Claror valley (in Escaldes-Engordany) or from the Civera valley.
Both on the GR7 and GR11 you walk past this mountain hut. But also the inland grand route (Grande Randonnée de Pays) takes you along here. From L’illa you follow this GRP route marked with red and yellow stripes in the direction of the destination Refugi de Juclar.
Collada dels Pessons
The hike starts after a small descent along the reservoir located next to the mountain hut, right at one of the longest climbs of the day. From the lake at about 2.500m you walk up to the Collada dels Pessons at 2.800m. The point at the peak gives you a beautiful view over the valley with impressive mountain lakes. Here begins a long, challenging descent to Estany dels Pessons, which consists of a granite abyss with many loose stones. You then descend steeply along a rock face and have to be careful not to slip.
La parròquia d'Encamp
When the descent becomes less steep and the rocky outcrops change to grassland, you have arrived in Estany dels Pessons. Here, grass and moorland alternate with bright blue mountain lakes and pine trees. You are now walking through the heart of the parish of Encamp in the centre of Andorra. This province is located at about 1.300m above sea level and is particularly known for the Grandvalira ski resort (the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees). So take a well-deserved break at one of the mountain lakes in Estany dels Pessons before you continue.
The rest of the walk will take you through the ski resort, which in summer consists of wide green plains with stationary ski lifts. Not the most beautiful part of the route. But a good stretch of slow downhill where you can recharge for the longest climb of the day.
Estanys de Siscaró
At the bottom of the ski area you are on one of the busiest roads in Andorra. When you cross it, you walk straight up into the province of Canillo, the largest parish in Andorra in terms of surface area. Here you start climbing the Pic d’Ortafà III. By now you are at an altitude of 1900m and you will climb up to 2690m with percentages up to 33%. The climb starts on a small meadow where you walk straight up into the forest. There the route continues along a small river which you follow until you make the remaining altitude metres through a rough but overgrown rocky area.
The top of the climb gives you another fantastic view which you can enjoy breathlessly before starting the steep section towards Estany de Siscaró. At the end of this descent, you will find two large mountain lakes in a wide swampy area. Here you will hear the familiar cowbells again and you will find the unmanned Refugi de Siscaró.
Refugi de Juclar
From this valley it is only a few kilometres uphill to reach the Refugi de Juclar. The final destination of this second stage. The hut stands at an altitude of 2.310m at the foot of the reservoir with the same name. You reach this mountain hut by a short but steep climb through the forest followed by an adventurous path along a rock face of granite stones. This is the most challenging part of the stage and the path even has a chain to hold you to the rocks. It even feels a bit like alpine climbing.
However, you can also choose to follow a less challenging route. For this you have to take some extra time because the number of kilometres increases. To take this alternative, first follow the Riu Siscaró to Picnic del Travenc and start the climb from there.