Staying in the nearby town of Bagnères-de-Luchon while running a writers retreat, we set aside a day to explore the nearby Pyrenees mountain range. There are lots of hikes to choose from but we settled on the well known Lac D oo (Lake Oô) trek. An easy Pyrenees hike that does not disappoint!
Covering roughly 6.6km and inclining 430m, the views are instantaneous and impressive, although nothing can prepare you for the beauty of Lac D’oo itself.
Set aside 2.5-3.5 hours to enjoy this hike, although throw in an extra hour if you want to swim or grab lunch at the lake (which I highly recommend!). Follow this easy step-by-step guide for anyone wanting to do the hike self-guided…
Hiking to Lac d Oo: step by step
Start from the car park of the Granges d’Astau which sits at 1130m, a few kms after village Oô. In the busy summer season, there are busses running to the car park from the nearby town of Luchon.
From here you will head south out of the car park keeping the cluster of buildings on your left. You are looking for a signpost for the well-marked GR10 route. The way to the Lac d Oo is marked the whole way with red and white markers.
Continue hiking up the paved track into the valley, along the Val d’Astau. The path starts fairly flat, gently meandering through the valley.
While the path is definitely not suitable for strollers, it is easy-going, so it may be suitable for young children who are used to doing a bit of walking. The ascent is gentle and straightforward but does steepen slightly for the second part of the hike.
After about 2km you’ll pass a sign telling you to turn left into the forest. Here the path goes from gravel to a narrow woodland trail at points, zigzagging upwards.
The incline increases although is still very manageable.
The views of the valley open up from time to time offering a good excuse to catch your breath.
After a while, the track levels and then goes down and up again, twice. Soon after you will cross a beautiful stone bridge at the food of the dam. Once you’ve crossed the bridge, take the left steep climb to the refuge du Lac d’Oo which overlooks the lake.
You’ll want to spend some time here enjoying the view and grabbing a snack/lunch. When open the refuge sells (pricey) food and drink or just bring a picnic. The waterfall across Lake d Oo is 275m high and is one of the highest in the Pyrenees.
For the brave, it’s also a good spot to go for a swim. Have a spotter on shore for safety and note that the rocks to the waterfront are hard on bare feet so you may want to wear shoes. The lake drops off steeply once you are in so it’s only suitable for confident swimmers.
Continuing to Lac d’Espingo
For those wanting a more challenging hike, you can continue past Lac d Oo onto Lake of Espingo. You follow the same GR10 path up to the left of Lac d Oo and to the top of the waterful. From here you leave the GR10 and begin to climb to the Col d’Espingo.
While this section is also easy to follow, it gets much steeper so is for moderate hikers. Add an additional 2-3 hours to arrive to the pass. At Col d’Espingo (1,967 m) you’ll find another refuge.
Both trails – if you take the extension or stop at Lac d Oo, return via the same path.
Where to stay in Bagnères-de-Luchon
Luchon is a quiet french town surrounded by the incredible mountains of the Pyrenees. It makes a great base for those looking to explore the area for cycling, hiking or skiing. The town has a market and a handful of restaurants and coffee shops.
We were using Papilio Luchon as our base. A stunning traditional guesthouse with lots of character, nice views and just a short walk from town.
Top tips for hiking Lac d Oo
I hope this guide and the photos above have convinced you that this is a good trek to try if you are looking for a hike in the Pyrenees. Although it only took up half a day, it was one of the best hikes I have ever done. The fresh mountain air and majestic lake did wonders for getting our creative juices flowing back at the writers retreat.
If you do plan to do this hike, here are some of my top tips:
- During the summer season, the hike can get very busy. If possible, aim to do the hike off-peak and if this can’t be avoided then start the hike as early as you can
- This is a very easy hike and it’s near impossible to get lost. Make sure you have suitable gear with you though – good footwear, sun protection, waterproofs and warm clothes and always let your lodge know where you are hiking and roughly what time you plan to be back
- Take some money for the refuge in case you get tempted by an ice cream
- The weather can change quickly in the mountains so always check the weather before setting out on a hike so you are prepared. In wet weather the ground underfoot may be very slippery in places
If you found this helpful, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!