The holzarte footbridge, a thrill on the mountainside of the Basque Country
While hiking in the Soule hills, discover a magnificent natural site that’s a must-see during your stay in the Basque Country. Culminating 180 metres above the impressive Olhadubi canyon, the Holzarte footbridge offers a vertiginous landscape. Discover it!
Hiking on the Holzarte trail
Your adventure begins in Larrau, a small mountain village in Haute-Soule, near the Iraty forest, in the heart of the Basque Country. The Logibar Inn is the starting point for the trail up to the famous Holzarte footbridge. Perfect for those who want a snack before setting off or on the way home. First we skirt the river, then enter the forest undergrowth, walking between streams and waterfalls along the Holtzarte gorge. The hike is not very long, but includes some steep climbs that require a certain level of fitness. At the end of an hour’s walk in the mountains, at an altitude of 580 metres, the Holzarte footbridge finally comes into view, the reward for all our efforts. If you’re afraid of heights, it’s not too late to turn back…
The trail continues beyond the footbridge, leading to a forest track. You can tour the Holtzarte Gorge, via the Ardakotxea pass, the Olhadubi bridge and the Ardakotxea plateau. Return via the left side of the gorge. A further four-hour walk from the footbridge is required to “complete the loop”.
A suspension bridge in a breathtaking landscape
Do you dare to cross this “moving” bridge suspended 180 m above sea level? This 70-metre-long aerial path through the Pyrenean canopy offers a breathtaking panorama. We advance over the impressive void, with the Olhadubi canyon beneath our feet, carved out 80 million years ago by the Olhadoko erreka river. It’s like a remake of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, minus the crocodiles. In the middle, the walkway sways a little, even a lot, in the wind and under the weight of the walkers. For the less adventurous, don’t worry: the walkway is solid! Not to worry, the building was completely restored in 2010, after the Xynthia storm. And it’s been a long time since steel cables replaced hemp ropes! For the record, the Holzarte footbridge was built in 1920 by Italian workers from the Lombardi Morello sawmill in Tardets. Originally, it enabled loggers to reach the high altitude logging sites on the other side of the Olhadubi Gorge more quickly.
How can you overcome your fear of heights?
Trembling legs, cold sweats, palpitations… don’t let your apprehension get in the way! A few tips: breathe deeply, inhale for 5 seconds, then exhale for 5 seconds. Walk slowly and fix your gaze on a point on the horizon, without looking too far down. But for many acrophobics, even stepping onto the catwalk is a feat in itself.
Good advice for hikers
- Bring good shoes and/or a walking stick, as the steep terrain becomes very slippery in rain or fog.
- Be careful, stay on the trail and follow the signs.
- In summer, take enough water for the whole hike.
- Plan to arrive early in the morning (as early as 8:30 a.m.), as parking lots fill up quickly.
- Departure point: Auberge Logibar, quartier Logibar, D26, 64560 Larrau
- Duration: 1h for the footbridge, 5h for the long loop (12 km)
- Difference in altitude: 550 m
- The Holzarte footbridge is accessible to dogs on a leash.
Photo © P. Gaillard, CDT 64