Two hikes to lakes of "Tristaina" - a great excursion for the "not-so-fit"

Difficulty: medium.  Climb: 280 m (A) / 106 m (B).  Starting point: Ordino-Arcalis ski resort

The second lake at Tristaina, Andorra.  Photo: P. Mikhelson

The Tristaina lakes is one the most popular hikes in Andorra, no doubt because they are easily accessible from the road.  This hike is  recommended for the wide range of fauna and flora, interesting relief and well-marked and tended paths.  Mind you, there are a few passages where you must be watchful as careless walking could result in you tumbling down the mountain side.  There are many paths around the lakes so you can walk until you feel tired and cut back early if you so wish.  This variety of options make the Tristaina lakes an excellent "first day" excursion, especially for those that want to see high altitude mountain lakes without having to climb for hours.

The second lake of Tristaina, Andorra.  Photo: P. MikhelsonFishing at the Tristaina lakes, Andorra.  Photo: P. Mikhelson
Below you will find 2 examples, excursion "A" being more demanding than "B".  As you can see from the map, you can always change destinations when you reach the second lake if you've had enough.
Excursion A (altitude range: +280 m, climbing time: 1h20, return: 1h20)

0:00 h: Coma del Forat (2'200 m):
The path starts behind the restaurant at the top of the Ordino-Arcalis ski resort, just where the tarred road ends.  Take the very well marked path that climbs across the the slope of Coma Forat which leads to the Tristaina bowl.

0:25 h: Collet (2'330 m):
Arriving at the entrance of the bowl, overlooking the the Mig lake, follow the path on the left of the lakes towards the bank of the Mig lake.  Climb the slope but be careful towards the top as there is a short passage which is a bit delicate.

1.20 h: Cota (2'500 m):
From above the Mes Amunt lake, carry on round the slope below the Tristaina range.  This is the best vantage point as you can see the three lakes, one below the other.

2:00 h: Basses (2'430 m):
Having circled the upper lake, you reach the pools lying below the Arbella pass.

2:20 h: Collet (2'330 m):
Pass the outflow of the Mig lake and head back up to the entrance of the bowl where you started the tour of the lakes (collet).

2:40 h: Coma del Forat (2'220 m):
Return to the restaurant at the Coma del Forat by the same trail.

Walking up to the Tristaina lakes, Andorra.  Photo: P. Mikhelson
The walk up to the lakes offers breath taking 
views over the Ordino valley.

Excursion B (altitude range: +106 m, climbing time: 0:50 h, return: 1:00 h)

0:00 h: (road side, 2'200m):
When driving up, pass the big metal wheel and park your car 300m further up, just after a little hill on your right.  Walk down to the river, cross the wooden bridge and start climbing.

0:20 h: (first lake, Estany Primer, 2'249 m):
Walk over the entrance to the bowl and down to the first lake.  Follow the path on the right side of the lake and continue to the second lake.

0:35 h: (second lake, Estany del Mig, 2'287 m):
From here, follow any of the paths on the right side up to the third lake.

0:50 h: (third lake, Estany de Més Amunt, 2'306 m):
From here, start descending but on the other side of the middle lake.  You can then start to climb up to the Collet (2'330m) on your right and descend to the restaurant at the Coma del Forat (see excursion A) or continue down to the first lake and descend to the road the way you came up. 

The map above was taken from the trekking booklet which you can buy at the Massana tourist office called 30 interesting itineraries on the paths of the parishes of Ordino and La Massana.  Cost: about 3 Euros.
In order to get to the start of the trek from your holiday apartment in Arinsal, drive to La Massana (5 min), then to Ordino (5 min) and then to the Ordino-Arcalis ski resort (20 min.).  Drive trough the tunnel, past the ski resort and keep driving up the road. Pass a monument which consists of a huge metal ring or wheel on your right.  Excursion B starts 300m higher and excursion A being the restaurant and the end of the tarred section of the road.
The first lake, Tristaina, Andorra.  Photo: P. Mikhelson


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