We found this hike suggested on an information board positioned in Louvie-Juzon the day before, on our way back from our attempt on the Col du Pourtalet, and decided to give it a try since we could walk straight out of our base at Camping le Rey. In fact, from our motorhome window we could look up and see the summit we were heading towards, a mere 900m above us!
After the short walk into town we soon picked up the start of the trail which begins along the Rue Du Rey on the west edge of the village. The tarmac road soon gave way to a gravel and then dirt track which initially passed through open fields before entering the wooded lower slopes of the mountain.
Passing the first flowers of spring bravely emerging from the damp ground, still very wet from the recent snowmelt, we felt the freshness of the air and it made us feel very happy as we climbed upwards. Reaching an altitude marker at around 800m we paused to gaze out over the mouth of the valley and the flat plains of Acquitaine stretching north. Hard to believe that the mountains could rise so sharply from this rolling landscape.
From here the route became much steeper, traversing southwest up a steep grassy slope, made very muddy and slippy by the melting snow which still covered much of the ground. That final 300m of climbing turned into a great upper body workout as we used our poles against the pull of gravity on the increasingly slippy floor, but the reward would be worth it.
As the climb goes up the northern face of the mountain the view south into the heart of the Pyrenees is hidden, until you reach the top that is. Stepping onto the col at 1274m a magnificent vista was suddenly revealed, with snow capped, sharp and rugged peaks in all directions to the south, with the iconic Pic du Midi d'Ossau straight in front of us. It was beautiful. Standing on the ridge it again reminded us of the sudden drop to the flatten plains in the north.
Motorhome Base: Camping Le Rey
Start/ End Point: Louvie-Juzon
Total Distance: approx 9km
Time it took us: 4 hours
Level: Moderate (last 800m Hard)
Map: Catre de Randonnees no.3 - Bearn 1:50,000