Five hiking trails to get lost on in Spain
If you’re one of those people who spend every weekend exploring the landscape and honing your calves instead of slouching on your couch, here are five routes for hikers to enjoy this autumn. Whether following the coastline or traversing mountainous terrain, they’re all unmissable excursions.
1 Climbing the Cola de Caballo, Huesca
This medium-difficulty hike is in the Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, in the Pyrenees near Huesca. Starting at Pradera de Ordesa, the path follows the GR-11 Long-Distance Footpath – better known as the Pyrenean Way – whose 800 kilometres cover the entire mountain range. This section, just under 18 kilometres there and back, begins with an easy trail through the spectacular Valle de Ordesa (a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997) and then continues in a narrow section in the Gradas de Soaso to the Cola de Caballo. The views along the entire hike make the effort worthwhile.
2 La ruta del flysch, Guipúzcoa
This route – mostly along the coast – links the municipalities of Zumaia and Deba. The path is linear and can be begun at either of its two ends. In Zumaia – where part of the latest season of Game of Thrones was filmed – it begins at the Ermita de San Telmo and descends to a rocky coastline flanked by steep walls, then climbs among meadows and pastures to the Sakoneta beach, where you can enjoy a dip and a view of the captivating cliff formations (known as flysch) before continuing on to Deba. A tip? Wait until low tide and walk along the very edge of the beach.
3 Cueva del Agua y Charco del Humo, Jaén
You can hike two trails in the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park. One links Huelga Utrera and Poyotello, and the other begins and ends in Poyotello. From the first village, which has the Segura Valley viewpoint looking towards the higher part of the area, the trail leads us to the Charco del Humo where, among gallery forests, it runs into the colossal Cueva de Agua, which carries it to the Segura river. From here, you can go on to Poyotello and finish the linear route or turn to the left to head to the Piedra Dionisia cliff, with another perspective of the valley, and then turn back to Poyotello.
4 Senda de las Cascadas del Purgatorio, Madrid
The definitive Sunday refuge for people who live in Madrid, the Sierra de Guadarrama in Rascafría offers numerous trails that lead you away from the daily hustle and bustle. With its starting point at the 14th-century Puente del Perdón (renovated in the 18th century) opposite the mediaeval monastery of El Paular, the path offers views of some of the most incredible points in the Lozoya highlands, including the crystal-clear Lozoya river, the Arroyo del Aguilón. It also gives views of Lozoya Valley and ends at the Cascadas del Purgatorio, two spectacular waterfalls that form the stream.
5 Ruta del Fraile en Bardenas Reales, Navarra
Located in the Bardenas Reales Natural Park, southeastern Navarra, looks like something from another planet. A semi-desert comprised of clay, gypsum and sandstone, it’s known for its colours, which run from sandy browns to grey and white tones. The most unusual of its routes is the most arid, known as the Friar. From Los Corrales de Bea, hikers pass through a field towards the Cabeza del Fraile – which can be seen from the beginning and from where you can enjoy magnificent views of the park and the remains of an old fort.