After a cable car and chairlift ascent to Cirque du Lys, an almost exclusively downhill walk, via Lac d’Ilheou, takes you from mountain peaks pastureland and forests all the way back to Cauterets. If you are travelling outside the dates that the cable car runs—approx. 2nd week of July to 1st of September, then please refer to Cauterets Loop Walk.
Once off of the chairlift to Le Cirque du Lys, you follow the path to ‘Lac et Refuge D’Ilheou’. The path meanders around a little before winding around a steep mountainside to then descend to Lac d’Ilheou (a mountain lake 1976 metres above sea level). After possibly taking a paddle in the lake and a snack at the lakeside refuge café, you now follow a narrow track into a wide valley. Just before a bridge crossing, you turn off of the track to take the Grande Randonnee (GR) 10 path through pastureland and forests that lead you all the way back to Cauterets
The view from the endpoint of the chairlift, at Cirque du Lys is breathtaking; with mountain peaks in all directions and, quite possibly, with clouds beneath you. Lac D’Iheou has a cool serenity about it. As you walk into the valley below you can view of the waterfall behind you and possibly get sight of vultures and other birds of prey circling above you.
Take care getting on and off of chairlift, following the insructions of the assitants. Some care is needed along the narrow path around the mountainside, just before reaching Lac D'Ilheou, as the mountainside is rather steep here.
Sturdy footwear, walking poles and a rain jacket are all advisable; summer showers can be heavy and there is little shelter en route.
Today's walk largely follows the Grande Randenne (GR) 10 trail. For more details about the GR 10 trail, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GR_10_(France) and
En route you can purchase snacks at the cafe at the end of the cable car, before journeying onward on the chairlift. There is also a cafe at the refuge beside Lac D'Ilheou.
This tour is available on the following itineraries: WFSWIPNP