The Pyrenees (area to be presented), despite an enticing name, are not really the place where mountain biking trails can be found in abundance; Most trails lie the bottoms of valleys or on the piemont, for the simple reason they are too high and steep.
Except on the low ranges that border main ridge, where mountains do not exceed 2000m. The area that separates the Aure and Louron valleys, commonly called Azet ridge (after the village), belongs to them and is a good example of mountain bike trail that really deserves to be called so.
Note: since I have many pictures of the area, I also created the SP page...
One must be aware that making this trail as a loop, as described, involves the climb on the asphalt of one of the most famous passes of the Pyrenees, the Col d'Azet, which means about 700m of elevation to gain from the very beginning.
Otherwise, it is still possible to get by car to Col d'Azet and make it as a way-and-back.
We start the loop at the mountain resort resort of Saint Lary, and in the upper end of the village take the direction of the village of Sailhan. At Sailhan, take Estensan, and then Azet (village). Beware of not taking to Ens, a secondary road in cul-de-sac. Over the village of Azet is the pass identically named, a famous starting point for paragliding.
From the pass starts the offroads part. We take a track leading North to a small building located on the top of the hill (some 150 extra meters to climb !)
At the metallic hut (a meteorologic station), we see a wide open space made of pastures going down. A trail runs in it. The fun can start !
We ride it down, passing Peyres Aubes and Cap de Barricaué.
Later, the descent stops, we enter a beautiful section made of scarce pine forest.
On Cap de Tech is a sudden "wall" to climb. Same at Cap de Boupillac. Only the strongests and most skilled ones will not push the bike !
On Cap du Pla de la Séoube, the trails seems to disappear, but continues ahead lower in the forest, still on the main ridge.
On Cap de Traspadau, and despite what the map at 1/50000 shows, there is no trail anymore ahead, it turns left suddenly to join few hundreds of meter below, on the west, a large track.
This track goes along and below the main ridge. There are two possibilities to catch it back, at the pass before the peaklet of Peyre Blanque, the first junction on the right (we didn't take it), or the next one, much further.
We circumvent Peyre Blanque by the left or the right (both are OK), and many different trails can take us back to the road, near the village of Lançon.
We pass Lançon, and start riding down the asphalt in the direction of Gouaux.
Somewhere on the right, we see a pedestrian trail (yellow sign), leading to Grézian. It can be ridden by bike, entertaining descent.
The return to Saint Lary, avoiding the main road, can be done this way:
Bazus Aure, Guchan, crossing the main road on the south of the village and taking a track that leads to a big iron bridge for pedestrians only, over the river Neste d'Aure. We ride along the river until another similar bridge, which we take on the opposite shore, to Le Bernet, until we get back to the road. A part can be done offroads again taking a section of the river near Vielle-Aure on the west side, until Saint Lary.
Everywhere along the river, we get beautiful views to the high surrounding peaks.
From the A64 motorway linking Toulouse to Bayonne, exit at Lannemezan and take the road into the Vallée d'Aure (direction of Arreau).
The trail can be made as a loop either from the Aure valley or the Louron valley, tributary, since the Azet ridge lies between both.
The present description presents it from the Aure valley, and the mountain resort of Saint Lary. But one can reach the Azet pass also from Loudenvielle and get there back from Lançon too.
View Larger Map
When to Bike
Spring, Summer, Autumn.
Snow plates are not necessarily a problem, but make sure the rest is dry enough !