Torla is where the road ends. It is the gateway to Ordesa National Park and the Spanish Pyrenees, with France on the other side of the mountains. In the high season you park here and take a shuttle bus into the Park. October is not considered high season, even though temperatures were in the 60s and low 70s and the foliage was turning brilliant shades of color. It was as good as anything we experience in New England, yet the village was deserted. The first day we did any easy 10 mile hike up the Ordesa Valley, along the Rio Arazas. It is an out-and-back and suitable for any skill level. We passed several gorgeous waterfalls, hordes of other hikers and ended at the Gradas Soaso, a series of cascading falls.
The next day we hiked 6 miles on the Faja Racon trail – much more difficult. It was a mile or two straight up, then the narrow trail wound in and out of several valleys, with the mountains on one side and sheer drop offs on the other. We saw only 4 or 5 other hikers on this trail. The views of Tozal del Mallo were spectacular; we saw another hiker up there and briefly considered it, but decided to save it for the next trip.
The third day we drove up the Bujaruello Valley on a rutted gravel road for about 5 miles to the parking area. We hiked up the GR-11 (Senda Pirenaica), along the Rio Ara, almost missing the sign for the cut off to Burgeil. This lead to a narrow suspension bridge which swayed under our weight. The topo map showed an un-named trail heading south to Rio Otal but it was not well marked. We followed a series of cairns for a while, but it didn’t seem right, so we got out the map and compass and realized we were on an un-mapped trail heading west toward Garma Azurillo. We turned around and headed south and eventually picked up the correct trail (and then lost it several more times) before finally arriving at the Rio Otal with gorgeous views up the Otal Valley. We saw no one the entire day, even though the parking lot was once again full of cars.
Torla is a gorgeous town with a medieval feel. The narrow streets and alleys are paved with stone, and all the buildings are stone with an abundance of slate roofs.