[Get to know MEDUSA's territories] Winterhiking experience at Pedraforca in Catalonia – Everything is possible in the Mediterranean
This article forms part of a series of publications under MEDUSA project to promote less-known natural and cultural touristic assets in our partner territories Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Puglia (Italy) and Catalonia (Spain). Enjoy reading and hope to welcome you soon at one of the wonderful places you will get to know here.
Winter is the new spring! This is even more true in Catalonia, where the weather conditions allow for hikes in the hilly and mountain areas of the region all year round. One of the most emblematic mountains to climb or circle is the so-call Pedraforca. The solely standing majestic massif is not visibly connected to any other mountain ridges and with its iconic double-shaped peak is very easily recognisable. The higher one of the peaks reaches 2506 m (Pollegó Superior) rising some 10 m over the secondary peak (Calderer). It is located in the Pre-Pyrenees, around a 2:30 h drive (150 km) away from Barcelona. The destination is also reachable by bus, which make the experience available to budget and solo travellers. Being one of the rather well-known destinations for outdoor travellers and local hiking enthusiasts, it can get crowded (by the standards of mountain loneliness) during high season. In low season, “comfort-hikers” are elsewhere, and the nature and hiking trails around Pedraforca offer their beauty to all-year-round adventurers.
Mountain refuges – the most authentic accommodation
If you plan to do a several day-long trip with overnight stays in the area and are willing to renounce on hotel comfort, the most authentic accommodation surely are the mountain refuges, of which you can find a handful in the area. The one most closely located and best starting point for tours around Pedraforca probably is Refugi Lluís Estasen (at 1668 m). Refugi de Gresolet and Refugi Serra d’Ensija are close by as well and tours can be started right from the door step of the lodging. Apart from their impressive locations right in the middle of nature, refuges also offer a great possibility to taste the local cuisine, which usually are hearty traditional meals from local produce. About the perfect thing to have after an exhausting day in the mountains. Be aware in any case that refuges are only equipped with the very basics in terms of sanitary installations, sleeping rooms and community spaces. Dorms are shared (except of a few exceptions of more luxury refuges) and usually people bring their own sleeping bags or inlets. But nothing will make you feel as close to nature as staying in one of those mountain huts! To wake up on a chilly morning, step out the door, feel the first early morning sunrays on your face and load your body with the power of nature through every breath is an incomparable experience that cannot be made up for by any luxury in the world. If you prefer a more comfortable stay, you can also opt for a Casa Rural – a rural house (if you stay for several days), or a hotel in the close by villages of Gosol or Saldes, where you can also find various options for eating out and local restaurants with traditional kitchens committed to the territory.
Getting prepared for your adventure hike
Hiking trails around the impressive mountain ridge are countless and mostly well-marked and maintained also off-season. During the winter months from Refugi LLuís Estasen, there are three circular day hikes recommended called Roca Roja (approx. 9 km and +985m, advanced level), 360° trail around Pedraforca (17 km and +720m, advanced level), Molleres (10.5 km and +650m, intermediate level). Whichever you chose, all trails promise high reward for nature lovers and a varied terrain in between flattish to steeper sections, forest areas with varied vegetation and stunning views on the massif or down the valley. For any tour you are planning around this period of the year, take into account that there might be snow. Depending on the year, the actual date of your tour and obviously the height level, you might encounter no snow at all or perfect conditions for snowshoeing and everything in between. Make sure to check conditions up-front and grab some crampons if necessary (they can be rented at the refuges). In any case, a pair of waterproof and broken-in hiking boots and appropriate clothing including wind protection are a must. There is no blue sky guarantee, but sunny and clear winter days are frequent, which makes the beautiful mountain of Pedraforca an all-year round destination.