Andorra la Vella routes

Solà irrigation canal 

So far, the Rec del Solà irrigation canal and the Rec de l’Obac irrigation canal (located on the shady part of Andorra la Vella) have enabled – and continue to enable – inhabitants to practice sport, take walks, view the town from a perspective suitable for understanding its growth or simply blow off the stress they accumulate in urban dynamics, all just a few metres from the city centre.

These irrigation canals have been and remain a natural lung that connects the town with the natural and cultural landscape surrounding it, and they generate endless elements for environmental education and for thinking about sustainable development. 


Based on this fundamental idea, Andorra la Vella City Council decided to link the area of the two irrigation canals with other parts of the parish that are of high na tural, historical and cultural interest in order to establish a large peripheral band around the city of Andorra la Vella. This band, called the Anella Verda (“Green ring”), is intended to become a long track of around 15 kilometres that will encircle the whole parish. 

  Near the Sol? irrigation canal, you’ll find three interpretative routes: agricultural transformation in the valley, a short route that will enable you to appreciate agricultural and livestock activity; growth and urbanisation in the valley, a route that starts in the irrigation area but delves into the historic and traditional centre of the parish; and human beings and their adaptation to natural hazards, a route that will explain how people manage issues related with natural hazards.


Rec: From the pre-Roman word recu, meaning an open canal or ditch in the ground for conducting  water captured from a river or stream by means of a dam. In Andorra, this is called an aixec, because it  raises the water level (aixecar means “to rise” in Catalan). Recs are used to irrigate crops.

Solà:  From the Latin solanu, “the sunny part”, which is the mountain slope exposed to sunlight.

Route through the Enclar valley

The route through the Enclar valley sets out from the town of Santa Coloma. The  beginning, a picnic area, is dominated by willows, cherry trees and brambles.  Wildlife native to the area is frequently found near towns, such as the crag martin  (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), the common swift (Apus apus), the black redstart  (Phoenicurus ochruros) and the serin (Serinus serinus). The path swerves to the  right, between ash, Scots pine, oak and walnut trees. The undergrowth is full  of boxwood (Buxus sempervirens), common dogwood (Cornus sanguinea) and  common ivy (Hedera helix). The Iberian wall lizard and the thrush (Podarcis hispanica)  run along the rocks (Podarcis muralis). 

The Enclar path is one of the best places for watching birds of prey, especially in  the migratory period, as there are rather open stretches of granite scree allowing  you to glimpse black kites (Milvus migrans), vultures (Gyps fulvus), etc. As the  road climbs, downy oak trees appear, accompanied by fly honeysuckle (Lonicera  xylosteum). On the hill of Sant Vicen?, we find the castle of the same name among  tilia and privet, a bush with leaves similar to those of the olive tree. The common  horsetail (Equisetum arvense) grows in the wettest areas. At dawn and dusk, it  is easy to catch roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), chamois (Rupricapra rupricapra)  and wild boar (Sus scrofa) by surprise. The Enclar valley is one of the two parts  of Andorra where this hoofed animal, the most important in the country, can be  found. If visiting at dawn or dusk, you just may glimpse one of them. If not, you  can always look for traces of them, such as footprints or droppings.


Enclar: If the etymology of this word is Latin, from claru, “that which lets itself be seen well”, it generally means “peeled” in the names of mountainous areas and may be of Celtic etymology.

Route to Prat Primer through the la Palomera forest path 

The La Comella and Forn rivers descend from the slope where this forested and  gently rising and falling route starts, along with Prat Primer river, opening a path  through a fantastic glacial valley. All these rivers form part of the Gran Valira basin.  The deciduous forests, green and exuberant in summer and reddish and brown  in autumn, are one of the most important elements of the landscape along this  route. Downy oak trees, drier and less gloomy than large-leafed oaks, cover much  of this part of this parish. 

The most dominant bush is boxwood (Buxus semprevirens), with oval leaves  glossy on the front, but it is joined by many other, mostly deciduous species such  as the snowy mespilus (Amelanchier ovalis), common dogwood (Comus sanguinea)  and scorpion senna (Coronilla emerus).

The most prominent birds frequently found in this area include the robin (Erithacus  rubecula), blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), blackbird (Turdus merula) and blue tit  (Parus caeruleus), among others. 

Palomera: Wide mountain pass;  long, falling crest  interrupted by rounded  notches. This is  an archaic form of  the Catalan colomer,  coming from the Latin  columbariu, derived  from palumba. Birds  from the Columbidae  family like to rest in  these places. Sometimes,  the toponym can  come from the ashy  colour of the neighbouring  rocks. 

Route along Fountain Circuit 1 (short route)

The beginning of the route runs through the Prat Primer valley and is dominated  by hazel trees (Corylus avellana) and raspberry bushes (Rubus idaeus). The path  climbs and the Scots pine tree (Pinus sylvestris) starts to appear more prominently  than any other type of woody plant. It is distinguishable by its orange-coloured  trunk. Some of them have a considerable girth, indicating that the forest  is rather mature. Goat willow (Salix caprea) and birch trees also grow there.


A few metres above is the Ruta fountain, in a detour to the right of the path. This  is a very wet area, with dense vegetation and the aspen tree (Populus tremula),  which owes its Latin name to its trembling leaves when the wind blows, and  some wild service trees (Sorbus torminalis), European rowans (Sorbus aucuparia)  and firs (Abies sp.). The aspen is one of the trees that the black woodpecker uses  to make its nest. Along this path, red fox (Vulpes vulpes) droppings give evidence  of this attractive carnivore’s presence.


Some birds search for food among the pine branches, such as the coal tit (Parus  ater) and crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), which has a twisted beak so it can remove  seeds from pine cones. There are also raspberry bushes, willowherbs, common  mullein and especially snapdragon (Antirrhinum asarina), an interesting species  that has already become endemic in the Pyrenees.


Font: From the Low Latin  word fonte, meaning  “spring” or “fountain”.  There are usually  many natural springs  in the high valleys  of the Pyrenees and,  generally speaking, in  alpine settings with  glacial cirques. There  are nearly 150 recorded  in Andorra, most  of which have a high  iron content. 

Route along Fountain Circuit 2 (long route)

The long fountain circuit sets off from the same place as the short one. Once the  route fountain stretch has ended and you have arrived at the green fence, follow  the trail to the Bosc Negre fountain. From here, climb the path on the left-hand  side of the trail that leads to the Bosc Negre path.


The wood is dense, with Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) and boxwood (Buxus sempervirens),  which you’ll find along most of the route. Before reaching the intersection  with the la Palomera path, you’ll find the Sansa fountain. The circuit continues on  the left through the la Palomera path.  Here you can see or hear the bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) and the Eurasian jay (Garrulus  glandarius). After a while you’ll come to the limestone rocks of la Palomera,  where saxifrage (Saxifraga catalaunica) and ramonda grow (Ramonda myconi). The  site offers beautiful views. At the end of the climb you’ll see the fields of la Palomera,  a dense forest of Scots pines bearing holes made by black woodpeckers (Dryocupus  martius) and the rummagings of wild boars (Sus scrofa).


The path continues level through the Bosc Negre (“Black forest”). After a while, a  path appears on the right, where there is a Scots pine with two branches. Follow  the path until you reach the font del Cuc (“Worm fountain”), which you should not  confuse with the fountain of the same name on the La Trapella pass path.

Palomera:  From the Latin palumba.  A wide mountain  pass, this is an  archaic derivation of  the Catalan colomer,  which comes from  columbariu. Birds  from the Columbidae  family like to rest in  these places.

Route to La Nou lake

At Prat Primer the vegetation is entirely alpine in nature, and dominated by  grassy meadows. At this point, you’ll change slope and descend to the Claror  refuge along a path on the left, slightly below the pass.


As you arrive near the Claror refuge, you may spot a marmot. The grassy meadows  are dotted with individual juniper plants (Juniperus communis) and alpenrose  shrubs (Rhododendron ferrugineum). Alpenrose shrubs are very low to the  ground, with flexible branches that are covered with snow in winter.


Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) and houseleeks (Sempervivum montanum), are  herbaceous plants that grow in this area. The citril finch (Serinus citrinella) and  the northern wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) can be seen on granite rocks and branches of shrubs. The route follows the GRP signposting along the La Nou lake  path. You will start to notice mountain pines (Pinus uncinata). At the end of the  hike, near La Nou lake, you’ll see large clusters of them.  This is a habitat to birds such as the goldcrest (Regulus regulus), the coal tit  (Parus ater) and the crested tit (Parus cristatus). La Nou lake is rather interesting  because, unlike most lakes in the Pyrenees, it receives river water.

It is fed by  freatic water coming from underground streams, and one of these streams converges  with the Perafita river, ensuring that it always maintains its level. It is the  southernmost lake in Andorra, and the warmest. If you do not want to return via  Prat Primer, you can do so through Perafita valley and the El Madriu valley.

La Nou lake: From the Romanesque  noc, coming from the  Latin naucu (derived  from navis), related in  this case with hydronomy. The nature of  this lake and its water  supply system lead  one to think it is fed by  subterranean water.

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