The Faja de Pelay is one of the most gorgeous areas to walk in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park within the Spanish Pyrenees. The pathway is on a ledge halfway up the Ordesa Canyon, so you will be treated to fantastic views down into the valley, and over to the opposite cliffs.
We explored the Faja de Pelay as part of a really fun 28km loop with epic views. We started walking past all the waterfalls in the Ordesa Valley Hike to Cola de Caballo, climbed up to Refugio Góriz and then returned to the car park via the Faja de Pelay hike, half way up the Canyon walls. It was all pretty spectacular.
Faja de Pelay Hike – the basics
Distance: 14.2 km (one way) or 12 km if you don’t hike up to Refugio Góriz.
Elevation loss: 650m
Cumulative elevation loss: 1250m (as you gain over 600m going up on the way down)
High Point: 2160m (Refugio Góriz)
Time: 4-5 hours (one way)
What to bring:
Water, snacks and your camera!
Hiking poles to help your knees.
The 10 essentials.
There is a toilet in the car park and at Refugio Góriz.
Great for dogs, but keep them on a lead.
How hard is it?
The top end of intermediate. The path is easy to follow, but has steep drops and is haaard on your knees with the 1250m elevation loss.
Spain has fantastic maps that you can download or use the Mapas de España app. We also found the Maps Me app very useful, especially as you don’t need data to use it.
Faja de Pelay trail map
The map below shows our entire day-hike, rather than just the Faja de Pelay section. You can read the first part of the hike to Ordesa Valley Hike to Cola de Caballo here. Then, the second part about hiking up to Refugio Góriz here.
Faja de Pelay Hike – Possible variations
The Faja de Pelay Hike is one of the most famous walks in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park. We traversed it backwards, using this path to return from Refugio Góriz after our hike to the Cola de Caballo waterfall. Still, I think this would also be a fantastic walk if you did the whole loop anticlockwise. To do that you’d need to start with the steep climb up to Mirador de Calcilarruego (an amazing viewpoint), walk along the cliffs and then return via the path with all the waterfalls at the bottom of the valley.
Faja de Pelay Hike – How hard is it?
When you see photos of this hike it looks pretty scary, with steep drop-offs looking down from the cliffs. If you are afraid of heights, then I think this might feel terrifying BUT the path is never very exposed. I didn’t feel like it was dangerous at all.
However I found all the downhill sections to be a bit of a jelly-leg inducing challenge on my knees. The elevation loss of 650m does not sound so bad, until you realize just how much the path undulates. Once you add in all the uphill sections, you’ll be losing over 1250m in elevation, which can feel tough on your knees. The hardest part is the final 2.2km, when you lose around 550m. There are plenty of switchbacks, but it felt pretty painful to me.
Faja de Pelay – the hike
From the waterfall, Cola de Caballo, follow the path named Senda de los Cazadores towards the Faja de Pelay. There is a slightly scary sign at the start to warn people that this is a dangerous path, that you should not start after 3pm. The path slopes up gently, so pretty soon you’ll have fab views of the Ordesa Valley.
The canyon views are fantastic right from the start!
This is the view looking backwards to Circo de Soaso and the Three Sisters – Cilindro (3325m), Monte Perdido (3355m) and Añisclo (3254m) – the largest limestone massif in Europe.
I loved looking over to the cliffs on the opposite side of the canyon.
You can see although the drop off is pretty steep, it’s not *too* scary.
One of my favourite moments was when we saw some Pyrenean chamois on the trail. These are goat-antelopes, and they were really sweet to watch as they munched their way through grasses! Earlier in the day we’d seen marmots (I love marmot-dudes!) we also saw squirrels, a snake and some lizards.
My best photos from the Faja de Pelay are from the open sections of the trail. However the pathway is in the middle of the tree-line, so there are quite a few moments when you hike through forest. We were pretty tired by this point, so we stopped at one of the viewpoints for an apple and to relax for a while. Unfortunately the light was starting to fade, so we had to speed up again.
Faja de Pelay views
It may just have been the start of golden hour, but the last few kilometers on the trail, to the Mirador de Calcilarruego viewpoint, were gorgeous.
See what I mean?
This is one of the final views before we had to start heading down.
Mirador de Calcilarruego viewpoint
We made it to the gorgeous viewpoint before the sun started to set.
If you decided to walk this in the opposite direction, this viewpoint would be after a tough climb from the car park. For us, it was the last mini rest before our grueling descent.
Get ready for jelly legs
The final 2km was the only part of our day that I did not enjoy. My knees were a little painful after the 650m we had already descended, but there was still 550m to go down.
A great tip for if you knees hurt, we found that if we run down trails, it puts less pressure on our knees. This means you get a little longer before they turn to jelly. The top section of this was so steep that it was difficult to run, but as you get further down, the multiple switchbacks make it less steep and easier to pick up speed. My knees still hurt, but much less than if we had walked down.
Marc was much quicker than me, so by the time I’d returned to the River Arazas, he had his boots off and his feet cooling down in the water. I did attempt to join him but it is SO COLD!
I hope you like the look of the Faja de Pelay. It was a fantastic day in the Ordesa Valley.
If you are planning on spending some time in Spain, you should definitely take a peek at the ridiculously beautiful national parks. Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park was a complete pleasure to explore. Please click on the pins below to save this walk for another day.