Located in the Pre-Pyrenees, within the Cadí-Moixeró Natural Park in the comarca of Berguedà, the mountain’s striking twin peaks, coupled with the fact that it stands alone on the horizon, have made Pedraforca one of the most famous and emblematic mountains in Catalonia.
The name Pedraforca means “Forked Rock”, referring to its distinctive shape of two parallel ridges (the pollegons) joined by a lower plateau (the Enforcadura). The highest peak, named Pollegó Superior, has an elevation of 2,506.4 m, while the secondary peak, el Calderer is 2,496.4 m high. There is also a ridge below, Pollegó Inferior 2,444.8 m tall at its highest point, and the Enforcadura’s highest point lies at 2,356.2 m.
Pedraforca marks the boundary between the two municipalities of Gósol to the west and Saldes to the east, as well as between the provinces of Barcelona and Lleida.
There are many different routes and variations you can follow when climbing Pedraforca, but in this article we are going to cover “the classic”:
Summit of Pedraforca Pollegó Superior from the Mirador Gresolet / Refugi Lluis Estasen ascending via the Canal de Verdet and descending via the Saldes Tartera (Scree slope)
This route is not for the faint-hearted!
Despite its popularity as a tourist destination, the ascent to the peaks of Pedraforca is not an easy climb. You must ascend nearly 1000m in just a few kilometres, the final stretch to the summit involves a significant amount of climbing/scrambling, and the descent is via the slippy and often treacherous “tartera” scree slope.
Start point: Mirador de Gresolet
Providing you are reasonably fit and used to hiking, you are travelling to Pedraforca by car, and you plan to set off early in the morning, the full route from the Mirador de Gresolet can easily be done in one day – approximately 4-6 hours depending on the pace of your group.*
(An alternative option would be to make a weekend of it, staying in the refuge overnight. This way you could also hike in and out from the village Saldes which is accessible by public transport).
Bear in mind that Pedraforca is a very popular destination so best to arrive very early if you want a decent parking space, or you may have a few extra kms to add to your day!
Mirador Gresolet google maps
* Times as always vary greatly from person to person…
Stage 1: Mirador de Gresolet (1565m) to Refugi Lluis Estasen (1675m)
The hike starts as it means to go on with a steep ascent through shady forest up to the meadow where you’ll find the refuge and the beginning of the classic circular route.
There’s a fountain outside the refuge – last chance to refill your water bottle! You can also buy beers from the refuge bar, but probably best to wait till you get back…
Stage 2: Refugi Lluis Estasen (1675m) to Cap del Coll (2294m) via the Verdet Canal
Although the route is circular, we highly recommend following the route anti-clockwise, ascending via the Verdet Canal and descending via the Tartera. Pedraforca is like a huge helter-skelter – going up the slippy scree slope and having to climb down the vertical chimney will not be as fun!
The Verdet path is the one that passes up beside the refuge. Get ready for another 600m+ of steep climbing, not quite vertical yet, but a sign of things to come.
If you are a novice / intermediate hiker and found this section very mentally or physically challenging, it may be time to consider calling it a day here. You can either return back the way you came, or if you’re part of a group, consider taking the path of the “Set Fonts” down to Gósol, a very pleasant and easy path. Your friends can collect you from the village bar if they survive the summit…
Stage 3: Cap del Coll (2294m) to the Pedraforca Pollegó Superior (2506m)
Now it’s time for things to get serious, as the final section involves a sequence of steep climbs and descents, linked by precarious ridge crossings. The climbs are “easy” grades I or II, but as you have no rope and plenty of exposure, it can be quite testing for some people.
It’s well worth the effort, however, as the views from the top are spectacular. On a clear day, you can even see all the way to one of the other mythic mountains of Catalonia – Montserrat!
Take your time, snap your selfies, just try not to fall off the top…
Stage 4: Pedraforca Pollegó Superior (2506m) to the Enforcadura (2356m)
Finally, we are no longer going against gravity! Though don’t relax just yet as gravity is still not your friend, the descent is fairly steep and treacherous.
Down in the Enforcadura is the perfect spot to have your picnic, hope you didn’t forget to pack one.
Don’t stuff yourself, however, as you’ve still got the infamous tartera scree slope to contend with before you’re home safe and sound.
Stage 5: Descent via the Tartera de Saldes Scree Slope (2356m to 1800m)
Now comes the fun part! Or the horrible part, depending on what floats your boat
500m of steep descent down the slippy scree slope of rocks and shale.
Our tip would be to ignore the path and instead descend via the deep scree pile to the left, surfing your way through the deep patches of loose rocks.
Stage 6: The home straight
Pat yourself on the back, you’ve done all the hard part now.
Providing you followed the advice of setting off early, you should be arriving back to the shade of the forest just in time to seek respite from the midday sun.
The path will loop you back to the refuge where you can now enjoy that well-earned ice cold beer
All that remains is to retrace your steps from stage 1 back to the Mirador to find your car/oven.
Well done, you survived Pedraforca!
When to go?
Pedraforca can be a good option any time from late Spring to the end of Autumn.
Remember however there may still be patches of snow as late as May, so best to check with the refuge.
Summer avoids the risk of ice, but means high temps and lots of gents… At weekends and public holidays, it can be like a motorway.
Autumn is our preference. Fewer people, no snow, and if you can stay for the weekend plenty of chance to go wild mushroom picking on the forested lower slopes.
Where to stay?
We recommend Camping Mirador Pedraforca. Check out our review of the campsite here!