Contributed by David Sellars
Location: NW of El Serrat
Round trip: 7 km
Start elevation: 2220 m
Final Elevation: 2500 m
Maps: 1:40,000 Andorra, Editorial Alpina
Drive up the paved road west from El Serrat and park at the Arcalis ski area due south of the Tristaina Lakes
PARTIAL PLANT LIST
Pulsatilla alpina spp. apiifolia
The Tristaina Lakes are located in the extreme north west of Andorra close to the main Pyrenees divide. A dramatic trail provides a circular walk above the three lakes traversing steep grassy and rocky slopes. The starting elevation of the trail is above 2200 m which means that alpine flowers are in view as soon as you start up the path. Within the first few hundred metres along the trail we spotted Androsace vandellii clinging to a dark rock outcrop. A classic cushion plant, which only grows in rock fissures, Androsace vandellii has pure white flowers elegantly contrasting with the grey-green leaves.
The trail continues up to a grassy saddle with a surprising variety of interesting flowers. The pink flowers of Androsace laggeri light up the turf together with white Ranunculus pyreneaus and Gentiana pyrenaica, which has very distinctive dark blue flowers quite unlike any other in the genus. On the top of a small grassy knoll we were delighted to find Erythronium dens-canis still in flower (on June 25, 2007), although other plants nearby had already gone to seed.
The path climbs up to the right of the highest of the Tristaina Lakes and then traverses to the left between a series of cliffs. Primula integifolia was abundant at about 2400 m and there were also fine specimens of Gentiana alpina, which is like a diminutive Gentiana acualis but with olive-green leaves. Gentiana verna were also quite abundant and a solitary plant of Callianthemum coriandrifolium. We found more Androsace vandellii on the rock faces above the path near the high point of 2500 m together with creamy yellow Pulsatilla alpina subsp. apiifolia and sweetly scented Daphne cneorum.
The path drops down to the outlet of the main lake where it rejoins the path leading u from the car park. Pinguicula grandiflora can be found beside the trail.