What do you do when there are very little information about hikes in English, but you are keen to explore an area? If you are like us, you get out some maps and create your own route. We had a fantastic day exploring the Ordesa Canyon the previous day, so we woke up a bit later and made some plans to further explore the area around Torla. The route I am about to describe is what we came up with. Later I realized this first part is an official path, the PR-HU 129 up to Mirador d’o Molar. It was great fun and finished with some truly fantastic views, so I hope you like the look of it all.
Torla to Mirador d’o Molar Hike – the basics
Distance: 7.1 km (one way)
Elevation Gain: 1100m
High Point: 2008m
Time: 3.5 hours (one way)
What to bring:
Water, snacks and your camera!
The 10 essentials.
Okay but keep them on a leash.
How hard is it?
Pretty hard. To be honest, the first 3km up to the Ermita de Santa Ana Church was the biggest challenge for me! This walk involves over 1000m elevation gain over 6km, so expect to be hot and tired.
Spain has fantastic maps that you can download or use the Mapas de España app. We used a mixture of that, Maps Me and hard copies of maps that my mum brought.
Torla to Mirador d’o Molar Map
Gateway to Ordesa – Torla
The view in the photo above is what we saw when we woke up! Not bad eh!? As you can see Torla is a pretty amazing place to stay, where you can see the amazing Ordesa Canyon, right from the village. We started our hike from the village, so we didn’t need to drive at all.
Torla to Mirador d’o Molar Hike – Getting started
You can probably tell from the light, but we started quite late (for us). It was after 9:30am by the time we left Torla and crossed the Río Ara River. This meant although we knew we would start the day with an ascent, it was a bit hotter than we are used to.
There are two possible paths up to the Ermita de Santa Ana. We took the shorter route (with plenty of switch backs) it doesn’t look too bad in my photos, but it was pretty steep and knackering. It was only 3km, but you gain 500m in elevation, so it was steep.
The trail was mostly below the canopy of trees, so we didn’t get too hot. Every so often it would open out so we could see down to Torla and over to the surrounding Pyrenees.
Made it to Torla to Ermita de Santa Ana
Those first 3 km from Torla are pretty hard! It took us around 1.5 hours to reach the plateau where the Ermita de Santa Ana church sits. Hiking to here will involve just over 500m of elevation gain. If you do not fancy a longer walk, this is a pretty destination on it’s own.
Ermita de Santa Ana, Torla
This teeny church has fantastic views down to Torla, and out to the surrounding Pyrenees mountains. Unfortunately it was locked, so we couldn’t take a peek inside. Still, it felt like a worthy destination. I’m still really impressed that my parents both managed to hike up here.
Keep going towards the next viewpoint
The PR-HU 129 pathway continues right past the church upwards on a slope
The path is pretty easy to follow, and lined with spiky plants that grow more numerous as you get higher into the sub alpine area.
I took this section pretty slowly with plenty of stops for photos. When I looked up, Marc had zoomed all the way up to the next viewpoint! If you look carefully you can see him waving.
This is why you might want to continue hiking beyond the church. Isn’t this viewpoint fantastic. We couldn’t find a name for this viewpoint, but I loved it anyway.
If you can’t hike, cheat!
Obviously I always have the most fun when I manage to reach epic viewpoints under my own steam. But I have plenty of friends who are less keen on hiking on long walks with large gains in elevation. Well, if you fancy seeing these views, but you don’t quite have the leg-power, you can catch a lift right up here! There is a road all the way up to several of these views. You can’t drive up with a private car BUT you can take a 4×4 from Torla (here is a link to one of the companies that offer this).
We followed the road a little way, and then continued back onto a footpath that led into the woods.
….and then we lost the path! For one moment we were on an obvious pathway through the trees, then suddenly there was no trace of it! Oops. Luckily we knew we were close to the Mirador d’o Molar viewpoint. We triple checked our direction, then took a mini detour through the trees that came out exactly where we want to be.
Mirador d’o Molar
This viewpoint was spectacular! The drop off behind the viewpoint is almost straight down, with a massive cliff down to Ordesa valley. Luckily someone has built a wall, just be really careful not to knock anything over that wall. I had fun admiring that view, not realising that I’d be up on top of that steep knob of a peak within the hour.
Ordesa Canyon views
Just look at the Ordesa Canyon! We had already seen the Canyon from below (hiking to Cola de Caballo) and from the middle (from the Faja de Pelay) but it was even better to see everything from up high!
This is the same view (but zoomed out a little) you can see the car park and river in the Ordesa Canyon where we had hiked the previous day. Don’t get too close if you are not afraid of heights. This view was a bit scary when you look over the edge!
Marc got a bit mad at me when I sat on the wall (I guess he was worried I’d be like humpty dumpty….but with a very long fall.) We were both in awe of the views though.
So, that was our fun (if hot) hike up to the Mirador d’o Molar from Torla. This may not be a popular hike as we didn’t meet any other walkers the entire way, but it is well worth the effort and all that elevation gain. You can return via the same route to make it a 14km hike. We still had oodles of energy, so we returned via several peaks (which I’ll write about in my next post.)
My parents (who are in their 70s) also had an epic day out! They decided to follow the start of our hike up to the Ermita de Santa Ana Church with over 500m elevation gain. They took a slightly longer route, along a road (that is closed to cars) but how blooming impressive is that!? I aspire to be similarly fit when I retire.