Water is present everywhere in the mountains, it is the element that brings life to these sometimes harsh landscapes. It spreads out calmly as a raging torrent. Lakes and waterfalls are hiking end-points enjoyed as rewards, because of their beauty and their so-appealing vital energy.
Here are some places not to be missed …
The Araing lake
In the calm and transparent waters of the Araing lake, take in the impressive reflection of the Pic du Crabère.
The ascent to the Araing lake is full of resurgences as the ice masses of this fluvio-glacial valley could not flow normally towards the valley. The path that rises in the mist above the gorges continues in the open after the Illaou hut located on the left bank of the Izard torrent and goes on to cross the entire western slope of the Pic de l’Har with its striking cliffs.
Walking with our eyes wide open, we’ll then begin to notice what looks like a dam. A huge rampart of 230 metres in height, built in 1935, raising a natural lake of 32 hectares with a depth of 42 meters : a former glacier.
The Ars Waterfall
One of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Pyrenees, with a height of 246 m in three successive stages.
Quite clearly, the best season to visit is spring, though thise queen of our waterfalls remains stunning all year round.
Here are 3 different ways to approach it : on a round trip, a loop hike, or a trail-biking run !
The Lers lake
Between Massat and Aulus-les-Bains, in the commune of Le Port, we find this beautiful lake, whose spelling has been much debated over the years. It has, however, given its name to a beautiful green rock, the Lherzolite, which outcrops on this typical Pyrenean site. The lake is a well-known fishing spot for trout lovers, but also a starting point for some beautiful hikes allowing you to admire it from above.
I love the magic of this place: calm and white in winter, coloured by a purple carpet of gentians in spring and simply accompanied by the sound of cowbells in summer, reminding me of my own summers spent looking after the sheep.
Here, I visit with friends and our children to picnic at the edge of the lake, but also to enjoy a walk around the Pic des Trois Seigneurs loop. But my favorite part is walking up to Mount Ceint with my son and feeling the satisfaction of reaching the top and running back down the trail, with the joy of being there as plain as day on our faces.
The Arcouzan waterfall via the Estours valley
Waterfalls are known for their boisterous madness, throwing streams of foam into the sky without restraint. However, there are some more discreet ones with a relative modesty. The Arcouzan waterfall, which flows into the Artigues and Estours streams, is one of them. It is straight and polished, far from its delirious cousins.
The 80-metre-high river has its source in the unique Ariège glacier of the same name and, without embellishment, it descends in perfect verticality in two rods onto the brown rock, like a satin ribbon.
Yet, its scream can be heard from miles away, as its fall is so scathing and final. The day I visited for the first time, I scooped its crystal clear water up in my hands and drank in its hazelnut flavour from a small natural reservoir at its foot. A delight of freshness, facing this cirque with all the pale colors of an early summer, the blue sky as an added bonus …
Lake Bethmale is the little jewel of the Couserans: its emerald colour and heart shape would make a gorgeous pendant. This lake is not huge … but it is simply beautiful, as the place oozes zen and relaxation – I would even say it eases tensions … Each season dresses it in a new outfit, but whether it’s the tender green of spring or the white of snow, the atmosphere remains so very peaceful.
Accessible by car, a car park welcomes you below the Col de la Core. This is a great idea for a contemplative stroll, as it will take you about fifteen minutes to walk around the lake. This lake is very popular for fishing and shaded family picnics during the summer !
A must see, to listen (alone or with family), to breathe and to meditate !