Lac de Cap de Long and La Route des LacsBy Will • Sep 13th, 2012 • Category: Climbs, Cycling, Favorites, pyrénées
For an overview map and details on every route I have cycled in the Pyrenées see here.
Above: Lac de Cap de Long
Top-to-bottom, the best road-bike climb that I have done in the French Pyrenées.
I am a huge fan of cycling up to huge and high alpine dams/lakes – see here for a bunch of “dam” great rides – so I was excited to explore the road up to the Pyrenéen barrage at Lac de Cap de Long.
Please note, this post is for the second and main part on the map above. Details on the first climb, Piau Engaly, is here.
At 2160 metres, the route to the lake is one of the highest paved roads in the French Pyrenées – higher than Col du Tourmalet. And it’s just a beautiful place to cycle.
Starting from St-Lary-Soulan, it’s roughly 10 kms on a main (but quiet and scenic) road until the turn-off at Fabian. It’s uphill but never steep, so a nice warm up.
Often even the greatest climbs have less interesting lower stretches – going through busy towns or whatever. But this road turns off onto 14 fantastic, undeveloped kilometres.
The first half of the climb is up through a gorge accompanied throughout by the ambient river beside. A couple of good hairpin stretches are even named. Lacets des Ecureuil (hairpins of the squirrels), and several in a row called les Lacets d’Edelweiss. Fantastic.
La Route des Lacs: In total I would pass four large lakes and the route starts to get exciting as it approached the first: Lac d’Orédon. In the far distance, surrounded by huge mountains, I could see the dam for Lac de Cap de Long. It’s an astounding view that just keeps getting better.
Dam high in far distance:
As the cliff road circles around towards the dam, the final stretch climbs some really fun hairpins:
The lake itself is stunning. There are a couple of little restaurants and of course I stopped for some photos and a beer:
Next I descended back down 4 kilometres and took the turn off below the first lake. This leads to a 5 kilometres climb to two more lakes. It’s a toll road and virtually everyone parks and thus the road is empty except for a couple of regular shuttle buses. Cool.
Two more nice lakes. First, Lac d’Aumar at 2191 metres:
I think I had some fairly good photos of this ride, but they don’t even remotely convey the beauty of this truly awesome location. If you do one climb in the French Pyrenées, make it Lac de Cap de Long.