Hike to the highest peak in the Basque Country
The Northern stretch of the Basque Country is a mountainous land of steep valleys forests and landscapes. It is no wonder then that the Basque’s love to hike these mountains alone or with friends. Families teach their kids to hike from a young age and weekends are often spent enjoying the local natural parks.
The Aizkorri Challenge
To get a real local feel, challenge your self with a hike to the highest peak in the region, Aizkorri located 1523 m above sea level. It offers a modest challenge with huge rewards that include beautiful scenery, a breathtaking landscape and natural wonders unique to this area. From the top of Aizkorri you can see the three Spanish provinces of the Basque country laid out before you, and on a clear day all the way out to the sea.
Head to Oñati in Gipuzkoa and follow directions to the Sanctuary of Aranzazu. This sanctuary is the work of modern Basque architects and sculptures and is also worth a visit. There is plenty of parking near the sanctuary from where you can begin your hike. Head uphill past the sanctuary, there is only one road to the left of the church that leads you up to the trails. After about 500m look for signs that head to the Campas de Urbia.
The campas or fields are about 5 km up on a well-marked trail. Once you arrive there it is the perfect area to have a break or picnic. There is a seasonal bar and refuge located here that serves hearty sandwiches, broth on cold days and beer, water or other beverages. After your pit stop, if you are ready to continue to the summit then pass the campas and follow the trails to your left that head up to the mountain. The next portion of terrain is steeper, the final 3 km trek hugs the mountainside as you ascend to the summit.
As you climb up to your left you will eventually see the summits of the neighboring mountains Aketegi and Aitxuria which sit just below Aizkorri. Don’t be confused by their trails, your destination lies 1 km further ahead. The tops of Aketegi and Aitxuria have a cross to indicate the summit. Aizkorri has a small chapel and balcony that you will see once you arrive. Once you get there admire the views from each side of the chapel. There are several routes back down the back of the mountain that lead back to the fields, you will need to loop back towards the front of the mountain as you descend through the forest, this is a slightly longer but more gradual downhill slope. Oso ondo! Congratulations on making it to the top!
Starting point: Parking Santuario de Loyola
Distance: 10 Km
Difficulty: To the Campas de Uriba (Easy), to Aizkorri summit (Medium)
Length: 6 h0