All orders deliver duty free, plus FREE shipping on orders $99.95 and over.

Ambassador Field Notes

Hiking in the Pyrénées : A Practical Guide for an Unforgettable Adventure

Ruffwear Ambassador, Rose, or @backpackandsaltyhair, is a French photographer based in the Pyrénées mountains. She loves to get out in nature with her furry sidekick, Naïa. Her story has been translated from French to English.

My name is Rose, I'm 28 years old and I live in France, alongside my adventure partners Jérémy (my favorite human) and Naïa, our furry, fearless 6-year-old Australian Shepherd.

Naïa, Rose's furry, fearless 6-year-old Australian Shepherd.

I am passionate about nature and adventure. A former city dweller, I decided to change my life 3 years ago. After a few months in Hossegor in the Landes, I finally settled in the Hautes-Pyrénées, a place that has always fascinated me. I used to come hiking here almost every weekend, so it became obvious. Why not live here? And it's a choice I don't regret at all!

I’ve  found everything I was looking for here: a simple lifestyle, abundant nature, tons of activities to do and places to explore, and deep relationships. What I love most: sharing my adventures, and inspiring others to spend more time outdoors. I believe there's nothing like it to feel alive. Nature frees us, challenges us, surprises us. I am convinced that we can only love what we know, and we often only protect what we love.

So today, I want to take you on a special little adventure with Naïa, to discover the Hourquette d'Ancizan, a truly magical place in the Hautes-Pyrénées. The starting point can be from Lake Payolle (for the longer version and for the sportier among us), or you can drive a bit higher up.

Naïa getting suited up in her Quinzee jacket for hiking.

Preparation for the Hike

For this outing, I equipped Naïa with suitable Ruffwear products:

  • An adjustable Crag EX™ Leash for easy management in various environments. I particularly appreciate the possibility of attaching it around the waist, thus having my hands free while keeping Naïa on a leash.
  • A reflective Crag™ Collar for visibility.
  • The Beacon™ Safety Light for dark areas, especially if we end up returning later than expected.
  • A Quinzee™ Jacket to protect her from the cold.

I love hiking at the Hourquette d'Ancizan for its simplicity, proximity, and diversity. This place is also very popular with cyclists, as the famous Tour de France passes through here some years. The route through takes us through forests, rivers, plains, and up to snow-capped peaks. Each area offers a unique natural spectacle that transports and reconnects me to the essentials.

Arriving at the Hourquette d'Ancizan, at over 1500 meters altitude, hikers and cyclists are rewarded with a simply breathtaking natural spectacle.  It is at this moment that I really learn to slow down and marvel. This pass offers a panoramic view of the surrounding valleys and peaks; a living painting of nature in all its splendor.

Naïa and Rose walking through the French Alps

Every time I go exploring a place with my dog, I feel our bond strengthening. The joy I feel watching her run around is hard to express. It simply fulfills me. Naïa is much more than just a hiking companion; she is a partner who shares my emotions and discoveries.

Safety, Specifics, and Rules in the Pyrénées National Park

Here's everything you need to know if you're hiking with your dog in this French mountain range.

The preservation of wildlife and flora is a priority in the Pyrénées National Park. Thus, the rule is clear: dogs, even on a leash, are strictly prohibited in the core zone of the park. This ban aims to protect wild species, which can be stressed or disturbed by the presence of dogs. There are some exceptions like at Pont d'Espagne in Cauterets, or the Cirque de Gavarnie, but they are rare! It's best to check with the local Tourist Office.

Naïa stands by a stream surrounded by fall leaves.

Hiking with Dogs Outside the National Park

Fortunately, there are still many places to visit outside the National Park. Outside the park boundaries, restrictions are less severe. However, it is up to each dog owner to:

  • Respect local rules.
  • Ensure that our dog does not disturb wildlife or other hikers.
  • Keep your dog on a leash, especially during sensitive periods for wildlife or in areas with livestock, to not scare them.

Rose and Naïa stand at dusk in the snow. Naïa is wearing the Beacon.

Enjoy every moment

For those considering such an adventure, I recommend preparing your route well (as you probably won't have phone service in the mountains), and choosing suitable equipment for both you and your dog.

Respect the environment, follow local rules, and above all, don't forget to enjoy every moment. I hope our adventures will inspire other enthusiasts to explore the wonders of the Pyrénées (or a mountain range near you) with their four-legged friends.