Located nead the site of the great dam of the Bouillouses up at 2016m, this easy hiking trail goes up to 2300m and allows the hiker to discover some beautiful altitude lakes, and a wonderful natural cirque at the foot of the highest peak in the Oriental Pyrénées who gave its names to that hike : the 12 lakes of the Carlit…
It’s possible to discover the lakes of the Carlit by a loop of 9 lakes or a longer loop of 12 lakes.
Departure point : information center of the dam of Bouillouses.
Minimum altitude : 2016m
Maximum altitude : ~2300m
Total elevation : ~750m (for the 12 lakes loop)
Difficulty : medium for the 12 lakes loop / Easy for the 9 lakes loop
Kilometers : 12km for the 12 lakes loop / 8,5km for the 9 lakes loop
Estimated time : 5h for the 12 lakes loop / 3h for the 9 lakes loop
Hiking the 12 lakes of the Carlit
We are now traveling in the Pyrénées Catalanes since a few days, and the friends who host us gave us a few tips to dicover the area : « You must hike the 12 lakes of the Carlit, next to the dam of the Bouillouses! » they told us!
Even at the starting point, the scenery is set. The great site of the dam of the Bouillouses is quite impressive. This dam, with a size of 149ha, is looking like a large mirror reflecting the powerful mountainous landscape. But we don’t stay long here, we must go up for 5h! We choose the loop of the 12 lakes of the Carlit.
The begining is a little bit steep, going up through a pine tree forest, then in a dry riverbed. But then, the swampish area where sits the 12 lakes of the Carlit is quite flat, at first. The path is large and marked with yellow signs. Impossible to get lot here! We discover a few lakes before going up again.
Soon we reach the crossroad where we must choose to go back the parking, taking the loop of the 9 lakes. A large threatening mass of dark clouds has been quicker than us. The sun is now hidden, and the wind blow harder. It seems like a thunderstrom is on its way ! We must take a decision : do we have enough time to hike the big loop before the storm breaks out over our heads? To hell with the rain! We’ll take the risk. After all, we came to see the 12 lakes of the Carlit, and we have our rainproof jackets with us !
Then, as we hike across the large natural cirque in front of the Peak of Carlit, at 2300m high, with a thunderstorm on our back, we suddently hear a deep and long distant roar. First thunderclap? Nope. It’s not enough loud. And it’s comming back, closer and closer, too quickly and the noise became permanent. An helicopter suddently breaks through the clouds and try to land a 100m further on the trail. It seems to fail, and back up before trying again. What is the meaning of this? Curious we take our time and look at the maneuvers. Soon we can see a group of people coming back from the Carlit, and it seems that the helicopter is here for them. God damn it! It’s not for us then? Too bad, we would have love a little helicopter tour over the Pyrénées!
The rescue mission seem to take more time than we thought, and the flying machine makes more and more loops to find a suitable place to land. It finaly stay hovering over the mountaineers and one of them is beeing airlifted as a few wild horses look at them. The rain hasn’t showed up yet, but the clouds are still low and grey, making the ambiance nearly unreal from the sky to the reflexions on the surface of the lakes.
We are finaly back at the car (dry!) after 5 hours in the mountains, our eyes filled with the marvels of the mountains of the Pyrénées.
M. & Mme Shoes