Do you wonder if this lake is real by looking at the pictures? This heart-shaped lake, Montagnon d’Iseye lake, is situated in the Ossau Valley in the heart of the French Pyrenees Mountains. I have never seen a lake that pretty that it seems unreal. Mother nature makes the most beautiful art. In this article, I will explain you step by step how to reach the Montagnon Lake (2003m), a lake in the shape of a heart, by taking the “easiest” hiking trail.
There are three different ways to climb up to the lake. I will describe the most accessible one. Note that you need to be in a very good physical condition. It is a return trail and a total duration is 5 hours, even if the signs are indicating 6 hours. With moderate speed, few stops along the way and a long photo break at the lake, we completed the hike in 5 hours.
Positive elevation: 1000m + additional 200m at the ridge
Total duration: 5 to 6 hours round-trip depending on your pace
Distance: 8,5 km
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard at times
Altitude min.: 1060 m
Altitude max.: 2188 m (Pic Mardas)
The itinerary starts from Aydius. The village itself is worth a tour.
Just before Aydius, you need to take the road that leads to the left and drive up for around 6,5 km. You will have to pass a point with a sign that indicates that the parking is not allowed after 9 a.m. risking a severe fine. Therefore, you should arrive at the Barca parking before 9 a.m. to be able to park for free. The weather is quite changing in the Pyrenees and the storms often occur by the end of the day. After the sign, take the path that leads to the forest to begin the ascent.
At some point, you will come out of the forest and continue climbing. You should arrive to the water point after around 1 hour 30 minutes. It is the only water point on this itinerary with spring water to refill your bottle.
Steep passage #1
Once you arrive at the crossroad, this is where the hardest part begins. The ascent on L’Escala path is done on the scree, it is very steep and slippery, thus you need to be very careful here. Hold on to the rocks and lean towards them.
Steep passage #2
You are certainly expecting to see the Montagnon Lake in front of you, you are almost there! Once you reach it, you see it from a flat perspective. In order to see the heart shape, you still need to climb the ridge on your left that leads to Pic Mardas to see it from above.
On this ascent, there is the additional 200m of positive elevation. It is the second hardest part of the route that can be quite risky. It is worth the effort though! The landscape from up there is incredible! You get the picturesque panorama of the Pyrenees mountains where you see the Aspe Valley and the Pic du Midi d’Ossau summit. You will eventually see the Montagnon Lake in the shape of a heart with its emerald colour.
My MAPS.ME guide
Even though I prepared this itinerary in advance, it was still quite a challenge to find some of the spots. The network coverage is scarce in the mountains resulting in the GPS not functioning well. To avoid you getting lost and waste time searching for the points and make sure you are following the right path, I have prepared a complete guide Hiking trail from Aydius to Montagnon Lake on MAPS.ME that works offline. All you need to do is to pre-download the free app and the map of the area to be able to use my guide without Internet. You get the interactive map with the traced route and important spots with their description and pictures (parking, water point, crossroad, ridge, restaurant,…). I drop you the direct link to download here.
Looking for an unsusual hotel experience in the Pyrenees? Then why not spend the night inside a tree hut perched on 8 meters with a private jacuzzi at Les Cabanes Jacquoises.
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