Whilst there’s so much to explore and discover when backpacking in Barcelona, it’s always a great option to mix the impressive architecture, easy-going way of life and all-year-long visits to the beach with some wonderful hiking. The majestic massif of Pedraforca is one of the best choices you can make while exploring Catalonia.
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The Pedraforca is one of the most iconic mountains in Catalonia, it’s located in the pre-Pyrenees and proudly stands on its own, not visibly connected to other mountains. Its highest ridge has an elevation of 2506m.
This is a well known spot for outdoor enthusiasts so it can get crowded at times, as my visit was in early December the crowds were elsewhere!
How to get there
The easiest way to get to Pedraforca from Barcelona is driving. Being located at just under 150Km away you can expect the ride to take less than 2h30min.
Check out rental car deals as you can find some really cheap ones from Barcelona Sants station or at the airport.
Beware of some dodgy companies that operate in the area, stick to the household names even if you pay a bit more!
If travelling solo and on a budget, you can also make it there by bus! it should take about 5 hours and two buses.
You will have to take a bus from Barcelona “Estacio del Nord” towards “Guardiola de Bergueda”and there change to another bus towards “Gosol” and stop either there or at the town of “Saldes”
At the time of writing, the best timing combination was to leave from Barcelona at 9:30am. Arriving to Guardiola de Bergueda at 11:52am and then the bus to Gosol departs at 11:52am (yeap, same time…) or at 13:25pm
Where to stay when hiking the Pedraforca
There are a couple of mountain refuges around the Pedraforca, and you could plan your hikes to stay in different ones each night.
We decided to stay at the Refugi Lluis Estasen and use it as our base for a couple of days hiking.
The Refuge is as basic as it gets in these sort of environments, do not forget to bring your sleeping bag. You can cook yourself (no kitchen available, bring a stove) or eat in.
We dined in on both nights and got two hearty meals, wonderful after a day in the mountains.
There are homestays as well in the towns of Gosol and Saldes with also more options for eating out.
What to take
Take for sure appropriate clothing, on our winter hike it was pretty cold early in the morning and at night, luckily we were blessed with blue skies on our hikes.
Plenty of water is a must, I always recommend to get a Camelback water reservoir as it’s comfy to carry and practical to drink on the go.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
The trails are well marked but it can get muddy, so a good pair of hiking boots or trail running shoes will work.
If hiking during the winter season, grab yourself a pair of crampons or rent them at the Refuge (€10/day)
Where to go hiking in Pedraforca
One of the most famous hiking routes in Catalonia passes right on this area, it’s called “Cavalls del Vent” and it’s almost 100Km with 10000 meters of accumulated climbing.
It’s normally done in 3-5 days although some push themselves to do it in less than 24h! the best time to do this route is in Spring/Summer
During winter time, there are three day hikes from the Mountain Refuge LLuis Estasen, all of them are circular routes:
Roca Roja, 8.74Km +986m
360°, 16.94Km +719m
Molleres, 10.6Km +650m
The first two routes are considered “advanced” and the last one “intermediate”
On our short trip to the Pedraforca we improvised a bit with the 360° route.
As we arrived late in the afternoon, we started the hike on a counter-clockwise direction for about half an hour or so, as the day was getting darker we decided to get back as there were a couple of spots with ice and snow that needed to be crossed again.
Hiking the 360° route in Pedraforca
On the following morning, after a beautiful sunrise and nice breakfast by the mountain refuge, we started the 360° on a clock-wise direction, which was also getting directly the much needed first rays of light on a very cold morning.
The hike starts through a dense forest on a flattish terrain. The 360° hiking route is really well marked and well maintained so you can allow yourself to enjoy this beautiful natural landscape. At times there are openings and you can have wonderful views of the surrounding valleys.
After 1.2Km you’ll find an intersection with signs pointing to Saldes and Gosol or to Enforcadura which is the way up.
Enforcadura is the Catalan name for the lower summit in the middle of the two peaks. Sitting at 2356m of elevation, the Enforcadura is only 150m lower than the highest summit of the Pedraforca.
Taking the way up to the Enforcadura is where you find the first steepish sections on the trail and the more you climb the forest start to disappear to leave you with uncompromised views of what lies ahead. Stunning!
Soon after you’re able to see the Enforcadura the rocky trail is quickly covered by snow which in most places has been already compressed into really slippery ice. As we were going with no crampons, that’s when we decided to get off the beaten path!
This was for sure the coolest part of our day, but we would have definitely welcomed some crampons to make our lives easier!
Eventually the ice and our respect for the mountain prevailed and we stopped some 100m short of the Enforcadura. It was not our day to summit 🙁
Retracing our steps back down the Pedraforca we continued towards the town of Gosol.
After a long downhill section the terrain then changed to a wide path with beautiful views of the region. The walk will be almost flat until you reach the little town of Gosol.
In case you don’t take lunch with you, in Gosol you will be able to find a couple of places to eat as well as a couple of bakeries. There are also some ruins to explore and even a small Picasso Museum to visit in town.
Gosol is pretty much the halfway point of the 360° route around the Pedraforca, at this point we decided to re-trace our steps back on the same way we came as we were told back at the refuge that the route was not possible to be completed without crampons…
We later heard it was completely fine to do it…so if you go to the Pedraforca in winter, make sure to ask a few people instead to compare their feedback.
Going back on the same way is not something I particularly like, but being in such an scenic place it was certainly easy! if you retrace your steps back though, you will have a steep climb back to the intersection of the Enforcadura.
Looking for hiking places near Barcelona?
Go to the Pedraforca! even for a short trip as ours it was totally worth it! this is an extremely beautiful part of our Planet and a proper nature lover’s playground!
Feel free to drop a comment or question if you plan to go hiking in Pedraforca.
Check out the rest of my hiking adventures around the world for more ideas on your next trip!