Cascada de Cotatuero

Torla / Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido / Aragon Pyrenees, Huesca, Spain

About Cascada de Cotatuero


Hiking Distance: 6-7km round trip (to bridge); 9-10km round trip (to better view)
Suggested Time: 2.5-3 hours

Date first visited: 2015-06-16
Date last visited: 2015-06-16

Waterfall Latitude: 42.66097
Waterfall Longitude: -0.0366

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Cascada de Cotatuero was said to be the tallest waterfall in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park at 200m.

Not only was this waterfall tall, but it was also situated in a hanging cirque, which was surrounded by shapely cliffs and knobby mountains (some of them have imaginative names like la Virgen del Pilar).

Ordesa_143_06162015 - Cascada de Cotatuero
Cascada de Cotatuero

Julie and Tahia were able to spot part of the falls from an easy trail along the Río Arazas, which was also the main river passing through Ordesa Valley.

However, in order to really appreciate this waterfall, I had to go on a pretty strenuous hike that climbed about 350m from the valley floor right up to the base of the Circo de Cotatuero.

By the way, circo meaning cirque in Spanish, which were basically three-sided valley enclosures of glacial origin.

Even from up at these heights, I still had to do a little work to get the clean view you see in the photo above.

Hiking from the car park to the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero

Ordesa_045_06162015 - Approaching the signed trail junction on the north side of the Río Arazas, where the narrow trail up to the Cascada de Cotatuero began
Approaching the signed trail junction on the north side of the Río Arazas, where the narrow trail up to the Cascada de Cotatuero began

From the far east end of the Pradera de Ordesa, which was the name of the car park area (see directions below), I followed the main trail on the north side (keeping left) of the Río Arazas.

After about 700m of flat walking along the valley floor, I then reached a trail junction.

At this junction, I then veered left onto the narrow path as I went away from the wider main trail.

The narrow trail immediately started to climb through a grove of leafy trees, which kind of helped shelter me against some on-and-off rain in the area.

Ordesa_072_06162015 - The relentless ascent along the Barranco de Cotatuero en route to the Cascada de Cotatuero
The relentless ascent along the Barranco de Cotatuero en route to the Cascada de Cotatuero

As I went higher on the trail, it started to follow the Barranco de Cotatuero, which was the stream responsible for the Cascada de Cotatuero.

Meanwhile, the trees started to thin out and become more fir like.

Unfortunately, that also meant that I was starting to become more exposed to the sporadic rainfall as well.

After about a little over an hour from the start, I reached an abrigo (hut) where there was a trail junction.

Ordesa_080_06162015 - As the tree cover started to chin out on the ascent, I started to get this view of the cliffs harboring the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero
As the tree cover started to chin out on the ascent, I started to get this view of the cliffs harboring the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero

Had I gone left, it would’ve taken me to the Clavijas de Cotatuero, which was said to be a climbing route where bolts were put in by Torla blacksmiths in the 1880s.

Given the rapidly deteriorating weather during my visit, I opted to stay on the lower path to the right, which then led out of the tree canopy and towards the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero.

It was from this area that I finally started to get a somewhat satisfactory view of the Cascada de Cotatuero.

However, it left much to be desired in terms of a clean view.

Ordesa_092_06162015 - Partial view of the Cascada de Cotatuero seen near the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero
Partial view of the Cascada de Cotatuero seen near the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero

Besides, the view from directly on the bridge was no better than when Julie and I first saw the falls down by the Río Arazas.

The Scramble to better experience Cascada de Cotatuero

So I spent some time walking past the bridge then ascending more switchbacks for the next 30 minutes.

When I started to notice that the trail started to veer further and further away from the falls, that was when I decided to make a scramble onto some rocky scree slopes.

The trail would continue following the Faja Petazals and Los Canarellos to el Bosque de las Hayas back at the floor of the Ordesa Valley.

Ordesa_150_06162015 - Looking back at the rocky scree unsanctioned scramble that I took to get to a better view of Cascada de Cotatuero
Looking back at the rocky scree unsanctioned scramble that I took to get to a better view of Cascada de Cotatuero

Anyways, I’d imagine most of the rocks on the loose scree slopes came from the calving of the cliff walls towering over me so the danger of rock falls was on my mind.

This trail-less scramble (which I don’t condone even though I violated my principles here) eventually led me to a steep but satisfactory view of the Cascada de Cotatuero.

This view was above the tree line, which you can see in the photo at the top of this page.

I’m pretty sure that were other more sanctioned views on the strenuous trails going to other cliff-hanging spots, but with the bad weather and the limited time, this was probably the best that I could do.

Ordesa_134_06162015 - While scrambling to a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero, I noticed this side waterfall tumbling down the cliffs harboring the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero
While scrambling to a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero, I noticed this side waterfall tumbling down the cliffs harboring the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero

When I had my fill of this unsanctioned view of the Cascada de Cotatuero, I then headed back down.

Fortunately, I had paid enough attention to where I had gone up earlier on this scramble that I was eventually able to recover the main trail.

When I made it back to the main trail, I had also noticed someone had put up a small rock cairn so perhaps someone else earlier was compelled to go the same way as I ended up going.

By the way, there’s no guarantee that the cairn I saw would still be there so it would not be a reliable trail marker.

Returning to Pradera de Ordesa

Ordesa_177_06162015 - The informal rock cairn that I noticed on the main trail right where I started the off-trail scramble to a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero
The informal rock cairn that I noticed on the main trail right where I started the off-trail scramble to a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero

Once I was back on the main trail, I then decided to go back the way I came.

And in doing so, I managed to get more partial looks at the Cascada de Cotatuero while noticing the impressive cliffs and formations literally watching over me in the nearly semi-circular cirque.

It always seemed like the trees near the base of the Cascada de Cotatuero kept me from seeing all of the falls completely along this trail.

After descending back down to the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero, I then decided to continue my descent back down to the main trail.

Ordesa_188_06162015 - Partial trail-side view of the Cascada de Cotatuero while descending back towards the footbridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero
Partial trail-side view of the Cascada de Cotatuero while descending back towards the footbridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero

Again, the weather still hadn’t improved by the time I had come back so I didn’t feel like I could keep Julie and Tahia waiting any longer to pursue the other trail towards Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and las Clavijas de Cotatuero.

Eventually, I’d return to the Pradera de Ordesa after spending 3 hours and 15 minutes on the trail to cover a round trip distance of around 7-8km.

Julie’s Riverside Stroll to Puente Sarratieto

During the time that I pursued the Cascada de Cotatuero, Julie and Tahia did a much easier stroll inside the Ordesa Valley.

Julie’s route followed along the Río Arazas, which was the river cutting through the main valley.

She followed this river on its south side towards the Puente Sarratieto.

Ordesa_900_06172015 - Looking back up towards the Cascada de Cotatuero from the floor of the Ordesa Valley, which would have been about as much as Julie would have seen of it on her riverside walk
Looking back up towards the Cascada de Cotatuero from the floor of the Ordesa Valley, which would have been about as much as Julie would have seen of it on her riverside walk

Throughout this very easy (possibly wheelchair accessible) walkway, the terrain was open enough to appreciate the cliffs of the Ordesa Valley.

After about a mile, Julie and Tahia stopped at a mirador near the bridge where she was able to see the full context of the Circo de Cotatuero as well as a partial view of the Cascada de Cotatuero.

Authorities

Cascada Cotatuero resides in the Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido near the town of Torla in the province of Huesca, Spain. It is administered by the Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you may want to visit this website.

Ordesa_014_06162015 - Looking up at the cliffs comprising the north end of Ordesa Valley as we were driving to the end of the road at Pradera de Ordesa
Ordesa_017_06162015 - Looking further up the valley as we drove closer to the Pradera de Ordesa and the Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
Ordesa_022_06162015 - Zoomed in look towards the Cascada Tamborotera (bottom) and Cascada Abetos (top)
Ordesa_031_06162015 - At the car park of Pradera de Ordesa at the end of the A-135 road
Ordesa_032_06162015 - Looking back at Pradera de Ordesa as I embarked on my hike to Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_041_06162015 - At first, the trail to Cascada de Cotatuero was shared with the much longer trail to the Circo de Soaso and the Cola de Caballo
Ordesa_043_06162015 - The wide trail pretty much followed along the Río Arazas
Ordesa_048_06162015 - Somewhat sheltered beneath the leafy tall trees in the lower elevations on the Cascada de Cotatuero Trail
Ordesa_050_06162015 - Parts of the trail to Cascada de Cotatuero was a bit on the rocky side
Ordesa_053_06162015 - The waterfall trail followed along the Barranco de Cotatuero
Ordesa_054_06162015 - Looking over the Barranco de Cotatuero with hints of the backing cliffs as I climbed higher up to where the trees were thinning out
Ordesa_055_06162015 - As I was getting closer to the tree line, I could see more of the imposing cliffs above the trees on the way up to the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_059_06162015 - I was now starting to get high enough to encounter fir trees on the trail leading closer to the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_060_06162015 - It was now starting to rain just as the tree cover was thinning out so the views up towards the nearby cliffs started to look mistier
Ordesa_067_06162015 - With the rain as I got nearer to the Cascada de Cotatuero, I was able to look across the valley and see the cliffs to the south of the valley were getting misty as well
Ordesa_075_06162015 - As the trail to Cascada de Cotatuero got increasingly steeper the further up I went, I also noticed spots where roots were protruding onto the trail itself, which meant that I had to be careful about not tripping here
Ordesa_077_06162015 - One of the few hikers that I ran into on this trail to Cascada de Cotatuero, especially given the not-so-ideal conditions
Ordesa_078_06162015 - Now that I was approaching the tree line en route to the Cascada de Cotatuero, I was also being exposed to the rain that was falling
Ordesa_083_06162015 - More dirt sections of the trail to Cascada de Cotatuero as it was popping in and out of the tree canopy
Ordesa_086_06162015 - This was the abrigo near the bridge before the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_088_06162015 - I had my choice of which trail to continue on at this trail junction, but I wasn't confident with the weather so I stuck with the path on the right in pursuit of a better view of Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_100_06162015 - Contextual view of the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero fronting the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_103_06162015 - Looking back down towards the valley of Ordesa from the footbridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero
Ordesa_119_06162015 - Looking along the nearby cliffs of Faja Blanquera and Faja Racón as I was pursuing a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_126_06162015 - Context of the cliffs and the Ordesa Valley looking downhill from around the bridge area as I continued looking for a better view of the Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_129_06162015 - Looking across towards an ephemeral waterfall and a more substantial cascade further downstream during the unsanctioned scramble to a better view of Cascada de Cotatuero
Ordesa_140_06162015 - This was the view I was finally able to attain of the Cascada de Cotatuero after the awkward scree scramble to a suitable position for a better direct view of it
Ordesa_164_06162015 - Looking back down towards Ordesa Valley from near the base of the Circo de Cotatuero and the scramble that I had to make to get above the trees
Ordesa_169_06162015 - From the higher vantage point due to the scree scramble to attain a better view of Cascada de Cotatuero, I was also able to get this more open view towards the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero
Ordesa_197_06162015 - Back at the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero on my way back down to the Pradera de Ordesa
Ordesa_199_06162015 - Looking directly downstream from the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero
Ordesa_207_06162015 - This was the view back up at the Cascada de Cotatuero from on the bridge itself over the Barranco de Cotatuero. As you can see, the view from there was not any better
Ordesa_214_06162015 - Last look at the bridge over the Barranco de Cotatuero with part of the Cascada de Cotatuero in the background
Ordesa_219_06162015 - Last look back at the abrigo and the trail junction where the trail leading to the Faja Racón, Circo de Carriata, and Clavijas de Cotatuero branches off
Ordesa_228_06162015 - Looking towards the Ordesa Valley during the descending trail back down to the Pradera de Ordesa
Ordesa_233_06162015 - Looking across the Ordesa Valley towards the cliffs on its south side
Ordesa_240_06162015 - After a few hours of hiking, I finally made it back down to the Ordesa Valley floor
Ordesa_246_06162015 - Finally back at the Pradera de Ordesa, thereby ending my out-and-back hike to get closer to the Cascada de Cotatuero

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We drove to Cascada de Cotatuero by going to the town of Torla (nearest town to the west side of Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park) from San Sebastián.

We accomplished this drive by going south on the N-I for about 12km, then we took the A-15 towards Pamplona.

We stuck to the A-15 as it went around the city, and after 74km from the N-I junction, we then continued east on the A-21.

Next, we followed the A-21, then the N-240 (when the autovía ended), and then we followed the E-7 for a brief stretch before leaving the autovía and onto the N-260 road (a stretch that covered 120km).

Ordesa_1017_06172015 - Passing through the town of Torla on the way to Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
Passing through the town of Torla on the way to Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

Then, we drove north on the N-260 towards Biescas.

After that town, the N-260 veered eastwards as it narrowed and twisted its way up the mountain roads deeper into the Pyrenees.

Eventually after 36km, we left the N-260 road and headed north on the A-135 for 2km towards Torla.

From Torla, we continued north on the A-135 (keeping right at 3km to remain on the A-135 and avoiding the turnoff for Bujaruelo Valley).

Ordesa_005_06162015 - On the way to Pradera de Ordesa, we stopped by this pullout with a view over the waterfalls Cascada Tamborotera (bottom) and Cascada Abetos (top) watched over by attractive cliffs
On the way to Pradera de Ordesa, we stopped by this pullout with a view over the waterfalls Cascada Tamborotera (bottom) and Cascada Abetos (top) watched over by attractive cliffs

The road curved to the east and eventually ended at the Pradera de Ordesa after 8km from town (5km from the Bujaruelo turnoff).

Note that about 2.5km east of the Bujaruelo turnoff was a pullout overlooking the Cascada Tamborotera and Cascada Abetos backed by impressive cliffs.

Overall, this drive took us 3 hours and 40 minutes from San Sebastián to Torla.

It took another 15 minutes without stops to drive from Torla to the car park at Pradera de Ordesa.

Ordesa_242_06162015 - The car park at Pradera de Ordesa in Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido
The car park at Pradera de Ordesa in Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido

Note that our visit happened before the June 30 cutoff so we were able to self-drive all the way to the end.

I understand that in the height of the Summer season (i.e. June 30 to September 16), we would’ve had to park somewhere near the larger car parks just north of Torla.

Then, we would have to take a shuttle bus (20 minutes duration) to the Pradera de Ordesa, where both the car park and the shuttle costed money.

To provide you with a little more geographical context, Torla was 94km (90 minutes drive) north of Huesca, 163km (about 2 hours drive) north of Zaragoza, 166km (about 2.5 hours drive) east of Pamplona, 204km (3.5 hours drive) west of Espot, and 322km (4 hours drive) northwest of Barcelona.

View of the falls before crossing the bridge over Barranco de Cotatuero then examining the surroundings at the Circo de Cotatuero while fighting mist and raindrops


360 degree sweep from an unsanctioned scrambling view of the waterfall and its surrounding cirque


Checking out the cliffs of the Circo de Cotatuero before zooming in on the falls itself


Checking out the cliffs and mountains from a roadside pullout before panning on the Rio Arazas at what I believe to be the Cascada Tamborovera and Cascada Abetos

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Tagged with: torla, ordessa, ordesa, monte perdido, aragon, pyrenees, huesca, pradera de ordesa, spain, waterfall



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