Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
940.00 m (3,083.99 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
18.20 km (11.31 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

While Spain is mostly known for its beaches and dry weather, this outing will show you another side of the country, one that is rarely experienced by tourists. It crosses a beautiful forest and green pastures, and ascends steeply to the highest massif of the Basque Country, the Aitzkorri.*

Start the hike at the Santuario de Aránzazu (700 m). You can park right at the sanctuary’s main parking area or 800 meters farther if there are still spots. At the farthest parking lot, the trail is marked, but there is another intersection 300 meters later that could be missed. Turn right there to follow the valley to the southeast. The trail crosses a beautiful forest that becomes pastures for the resident sheep and horses.

After 5 kilometers, you reach Urbia (1,129 m), a collection of shepherd houses. One of them serves as a café that sells refreshments and snacks. This is a popular gathering spot for locals on weekends.

Continue toward the mountain, which you can now see clearly. Arbelar (1,188 m) lies 1.5 kilometers away. That’s where the steep ascent starts.

From Arbelar, follow a series of switchbacks to gain the ridge (1,476 m). From there, Aitzkorri (1,523 m) is only a few hundred meters away. While this is not the high point of the massif, it is the most popular because of the hermitage of Santo Kristo, where a miraculous cross is said to be. There is also a hut to have a snack on the summit if the weather is not cooperating.

This is the easternmost point of the massif and possible the one that offers the best view, hence its popularity. The area is very green and forested, which is a change from the typically dry Spanish landscape. While not very high, the massifs around have a dramatic look as they are quite steep and jagged.

On the way back you can head to Aketegi (1,551 m), the true summit of the massif and the highest point in the Basque Country. From the intersection between the ridge trail and the trail down to Arbelar, simply continue on the ridge to the northwest for about 300 meters to reach the summit. Retrace your steps to regain the trail or descend straight to the trail, which is easily seen below.

From there, return to the trailhead following the same trail used for the ascent. You can stop for a snack at Urbia. There are also a few cafés and bars in Aránzazu.

*Aitzkorri is also spelled Aizkorri or Aitzgorri.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Excellent views. Beautiful forest. Varied hike.

Cons

Crowded on nice weekends.

Trailhead Elevation

2,296.59 ft (700.00 m)

Highest point

5,088.58 ft (1,551.00 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,791.99 ft (851.00 m)

Features

Flushing toilets
Potable water
Historically significant
Geologically significant
Wildlife
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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