La Gourgue d’Asque: fantastic hike in the heart of the rainforest of the Pyrenees!

Asque
La Gourgue d’Asque: f ...
In the heart of the Baronnies , a still little-known region located between the Lannemezan plateau, the Aure valley and Bagnères de Bigorre, nestles one of the wildest and most spectacular natural sites in the Pyrenees : the Gourgue d'Asque. Nestled in the hollow of reliefs, mountains and valleys, this mountain gorge carved through limestone cliffs by the crystal clear waters of the Arros is a marvel to be discovered on foot. Immerse yourself in an enchanting atmosphere and explore an extraordinary site with exuberant and unusual vegetation. Nicknamed the "Little Amazon of the Pyrenees ", this magical place is a true paradise for hikers and nature lovers!

Gourge d'Asque Breathtaking panoramic views!

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An easy hike, exotic and accessible to all ages  

To get to La Gourgue d’Asque, from Asque we take the road towards Esparros. At an altitude of 600 meters, this route reveals a great diversity of lush landscapes made up of valleys, woods and blazing green pastures. A few stops are needed on this winding road to fully enjoy the sublime panoramas and take out the camera. The famous quote from director and writer Philippe Pollet-Villard takes on its full meaning: “in a trip it is not the destination that counts but always the distance traveled, and especially the detours” . Here, however, the trip to Gourgue d'Asque has many surprises and wonders in store for us!

Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque

At the end of this cul-de-sac road, a small parking lot awaits us: the starting point of the hike. We pay the € 4 fee for 8 hours of parking. Surprisingly we find a parking meter on site in which it is possible to use the credit card! Near the car park, the remains of an old sawmill attract our attention. For more than a century, this site housed a wood processing center using raw material from the forest and the hydraulic power provided by the Arros. Near the river, picnic tables offer the possibility to eat on site. Toilets are also available to the public.

Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque

We finally set off for several hours of hiking, equipped with good walking shoes and a sweater. The air is saturated with humidity and despite the summer heat outside the Gorgue, the temperature remains constantly cool because the sun's rays do not penetrate the thick foliage of the forest. Therefore, the light is impenetrable and this factor largely participates in the mysterious atmosphere that reigns there. The term "Gourgue" comes from the Occitan term "Gorga" which designates a deep water hole.  

We follow the 9km marked interpretation trail which offers several routes varying between 1h30 and 3h of walking. This trail is accessible to strollers and people with reduced mobility on the first kilometer and we meet some families who have come to cool off in the shade of the trees and the dense vegetation of the gorge. The ascent does not present a steep drop and the route forms a loop. Impossible to get lost if you don't stray from the path!

Gourge d'Asque A hike for families

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Immersion in a curious forest that looks like a tropical jungle

The first part of the trail follows the stream, bordered by hazelnut, chestnut, boxwood and all kinds of ferns. A light veil of mist covers the Arros river and already gives the place a special atmosphere. A real treat for photography enthusiasts ! As you progress along the path, the trees become adorned with abundant mosses and lichens that hang from the branches like giant tentacles. The imposing maple trees, the birch trees with peeling bark, the majestic beeches, the small-leaved lime trees but also the rocks of the river are also covered with a carpet of moss . We literally fall under the spell of this wild and atypical forest, adorned with small waterfalls that flow into the stream. A few stops are needed to admire the beauty of the place and let yourself be carried away by the meditative serenity.  

Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque All along the route, informative , very educational panels help us to better understand the fauna, flora and the exceptional humidity phenomenon that operates here. We cross the Pont du Lock d'Asque and take the narrow, slippery path that leads to the Eye of the Arros , the source of the river that emerges from a natural basin in the shape of an eye. From the bridge, we decide to do the full loop. Three other longer hikes are possible by following the arrow signs . We will come back, it's obvious!

Gourge d'Asque Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque

Fauna and flora to be observed imperatively

This little corner of tropical paradise amazes both by its fairytale decor and by the rare ecosystem it shelters. A true refuge of biodiversity , the Gourgue D'Asque is full of a multitude of aquatic species , including otters, brown trout, brook salmon and the black and yellow spotted salamander , very present along the Arros. We are lucky enough to observe some of them, recognizable by their shiny appearance. Be careful not to step on it inadvertently! To preserve the authenticity of the site , no garbage is available on the course. Visitors are asked not to throw any litter, even organic, so as not to destabilize the fragile ecosystem.  

Gourge d'Asque

Gourge d'Asque Gourge d'Asque

We return to the car park by the path which runs along the right bank of the Arros, then which finally joins the path taken on the way out. We are extending our stay in Asque to take advantage of the many hikes: the forest tracks, the cliffs of the Helmet du Lhéris, the mountain of Billexe and many sites to explore in the surroundings.

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The Gouffre d'Esparros, another treasure of the Baronnies

That day, we leave the “little Amazon” to reach the Gouffre d'Esparros, a 20-minute drive away. Invisible from the outside, we enter this real crystal palace with a guide to enjoy the extremely protected underground cave . The wonder that we discover inside is beyond imagination: the walls of the abyss are covered with white aragonite crystals and tree crystals of absolute beauty. The one-hour guided tour reveals majestic geological formations created over the millennia: large draperies of fine gypsum and aragonite lace, amazing stalactites and pools of clear turquoise water below. A must in the region!  

Esparros chasm

the Gouffre d'Esparros    The Grouffre d'Esparros

Did you like this report? Find out more by subscribing to the Toulouse Pyrenees Guide Facebook page.   We also have an Instagram page @guidedupaysbasque.


Photos and Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide de Toulouse Pyrénées


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