Beginning from the car park at Puerto de Izpegi, which sits right on the border between France and Spain, the Frontier Views Walk outlined in Lonely Planet's Hiking in Spain book certainly lives up to its name. This 10.5 km hike wanders between open fern covered hillsides, beech forests, and high up to wind swept ridges - all the while crossing back and forth between the two countries. One of the most magical moments from our trip to Northern Spain took place on this hike - that kind of moment that I always thought only existed in other people's photographs or the Planet Earth series.
The hike starts off as an easy walk along the hillside - mostly flat without much incline up or down. Route finding on this hike was considerably more intuitive and easier to follow than the Atxular's Eye Hike. The trail markings were similar, swatches of paint on rocks and trees along the way. In this case, we were primarily supposed to follow the green and white markings and at least in the beginning of the hike, the trail was just obvious.
Continuing along, you'll make it through some beautiful beech forests and start to see a clearing that will lead you into an open valley on top of Nekaitzeko Lepoa.
And here's where it starts to get really good. Pottok ponies! I mean really, who doesn't love small mountain ponies that don't bolt right when you walk up. They tend to hang out in the valley near an active shepherds cottage where you'll also find some domesticated cows within a not crumbled stone fence.
After the valley, you'll reach Col d'Elhorrieta pass and from here the trail goes from the easy path you've been following so far, to a steep hill climb. Really, it's rough. Thank goodness that a couple of the really steep sections there are tree roots which provide you with some natural stairs to climb.
The good news is, your climb will be rewarded with beautiful views.
As you continue climbing up and head through another beech forest, make sure to look to your left and make your way towards this beautiful rose colored rock for even better panoramic views and a pretty awesome photo op. This is also the point where we lost the trail, but still made our way to the best part of the whole hike. I'm pretty sure we were supposed to head left towards Mount Autza and find another trail, but yah, that didn't happen and it's totally okay.
Instead of following the trail we think was directed in our guide book, we walked towards an open wind swept ridge. Once we made it on top of the ridge, we saw the three pottok ponies grazing on the ridge. With just the two of us up there with the ponies and the views for miles of France and Spain on either side of us, that was an amazing moment and one I'll always remember. I'd recommend lingering on that ridge as long as you can.
From here you'll make your way back down all that way you climbed up, through the beech forests, past the amazing panoramic views, and back through the Nekaitzeko Lepoa valley.
Instead of returning to the car park the way you came, you can take another trail over Mount Olate for a change of scenery.
Yet another beautiful beech forest awaits you, but this time you'll get an added bonus of interesting tree houses built into the canopy used by local hunters during the Autumn months.
As you head down back to the car park, through a hillside full of ferns - the beautiful views of Spain will continue.
If you plan to hike the Frontier Views Walk, you'll definitely need your own transportation since you won't find a bus running along this route. Elizondo is the closest larger town on the Spanish side, but we stayed in the tiny nearby town of Ordoki at Hotel Ursua. In addition to the route directions, I'd recommend bringing a compass since the paint swatches can be challenging to find. If you end up hiking on a beautiful sunny day, I'd really recommend having a large hat, a light cover up, and sunscreen as a good chunk of his hike is unprotected.