Summer is over for another year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the mountains in France. There are many benefits to hiking in autumn – this golden time of year really is ideal for walks and hikes.
Hiking in autumn can often be better than the summer season hike.
From cooler days, colourful quiet hiking paths, and mountain scenes with a light dusting of early snow, there are many reasons why you’ll want to swap out your summer hiking holiday for one in the autumn.
Experience golden moments throughout autumn in the French Pyrenees, with guided mountain hiking adventures, walks in the wilderness watching wildlife, and more.
We’ve got so many reasons why you’ll love autumn hiking in the Pyrenees mountains.
In this blog post, we asked our expert hiking guides what their favourite bits are, as well as give you some top tips for the cooler (and sometimes unpredictable) autumn climate.
The tranquil trails
Did you hear that? That’s the sound of silence!
The depths of the French Pyrenees are blissfully peaceful, even in the peak summer season.
The vast mountain range that makes up the border between Spain and South-West France always has plenty of space for tourists from all over the world, but in the autumn, it’s even quieter!
You and your hiking group will often be the only one’s up there too, making for a truly unique experience when you reach the peak, find that glistening lake, or magnificent waterfall.
And it’s not just the mountains trails and popular paths that are free from tourists. Even the shepherds and their animals will start to descend the mountains in preparation for the winter months too.
Blissfully cooler days
The autumn temperatures are much cooler, making the physical activity of hiking slightly easier than during the hotter summer months.
You won’t be hunting for shade once you reach the mountain summits, meaning you can spend a little extra time at the top to enjoy those breath-taking views.
But we’d still recommend you take your sunglasses as the rays of the sun remain strong at this time of year!
Expert Hiking Tip: the weather can change very quickly and be very different at the top of the mountain compared to the valley floor.
Make sure you layer up with the right clothing (we recommend lots of lightweight layers) and prepare for four seasons in one day!
Enchanting wildlife experiences
The shorter days bring out more creatures of the mountains before many of them say their final farewell and hibernate for the winter.
Like a final hurrah, marmots, red deer and the famous (or rather infamous?!) brown bear of the Pyrenees make an appearance.
Our expert local hiking guides know the perfect (and safest) spots to stand a chance of catching a glimpse of such fascinating wildlife in the mountains.
From mid September to mid October, the sounds of the red deer rut will be part of your autumn hiking experience, whilst in October and November the brown bears will be busy feeding in the open and preparing for their hibernation.
Autumn is the best time to hike and explore the mountains where these enigmatic animals roam.
Connecting with Nature in this way is a profoundly moving experience which is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
The golds and the evergreens
On an autumnal morning, the mountain landscape may be hidden behind a valley cloud inversion, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not a great day for hiking.
Once the low sun rises and burns through the clouds, you’re left with the sight of glorious golden, red and copper hues against the powerful evergreens.
In the mountains, the rich tones of the bracken and bilberry foliage provide a final blast of colour before the grey of winter takes hold.
As the leaves start to fall you can then look forward to experiencing those crunchy golden walks along the woodland paths.
Fresh forest foraging
There are plenty of foraging opportunities in the mountains, and autumn is when we see the delicious cèpes (penny buns as you may know them) and chanterelle mushrooms appear.
The damp soil and steamy mornings provide perfect mushroom growing conditions.
We recommend you go for a hike with one of our expert local guides who will be able to help you identify your edible mushrooms from those that could make you really quite sick!
It’s not just mushrooms to look out for at this time of year.
Autumn is the season to find many wild fruits and berries and even nuts too.
Keep a look out for wild walnut trees, sweet chestnuts, sloe berries, hazelnuts, and much more.
The mountains start to look beautifully hostile as the first sight of snow falls gracefully on the peaks, making for impressive views and photo opportunities.
Expert Hiking Tip: Good hiking shoes will never let you down in the mountains. It may be worth investing in a light pair of crampons (we’re huge fans of Kahtoola Microspikes) to give you extra grip on icy paths as temperatures fall in the late autumn.
Find a bargain
Travelling off peak will present lots of great travel bargains. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the off season accommodation prices too.
Even the UK’s half term school holidays at the end of October are treated as low season in the French Pyrenees, so it’s a great time to get away with the family for a mountain break before winter comes.
It’s far more sustainable travelling and taking a holiday in the off peak season too. And that’s what we’re all about here at The Adventure Creators.
You can read more about how we make our adventures sustainable for local culture and the environment here.
Every season has its highlights, but we’re sure you’ll agree that hiking in autumn is magical.
If the golden season in the Pyrenees has inspired you, contact us to discuss how we can enable you to enjoy a much needed last minute hiking holiday or short break. Our expert local hiking guides will guarantee you have an unforgettable experience in the mountains.
Or take a look at our hiking adventures that are ready to book for 2022. You have plenty of choice!
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