Madrid: Hiking Spain

On my third visit to Spain I was accompanied by a dear friend and it was a lovely experience introducing someone to one of my special places. I’m thrilled to say she enjoyed the trip a lot! We wanted our journey to focus on day hikes around central Spain and ended up having a magical time exploring each day. Our first two days included hikes in the Community of Madrid which were easy and cheap to reach from Madrid via the regional train system. Now I’m saying it’s easy for any normal person but we managed to get a little turned around due to our excitement and exhaustion from travel. These are the highlights of the first two days of hiking:

On day one, just outside of Cercedilla, we hiked Montón de Trigo, along the forested Roman Road within the Parque Nacional Sierra de Guadarrama. The 10 km hike is a small part of a much larger trail system. Getting to the trailhead required a 3 km uphill walk from the Cercedilla train station (nice warm up) but we quickly entered a calming pine and oak forest with the trail clearly marked. The course had us skipping over a few streams and much of the path was a challenging rocky surface that the old road was built with but it was a great first hike and were extremely excited to reach the top which offered it beautiful views of the town and nearby sub-ranges.

Most of the day was overcast but occasional bursts of sunshine came through the clouds.

Day two began with both the thrills and terrors of me driving us along the streets of Madrid to San Lorenzo de El Escorial to hike Las Machotas, also in the Sierra de Guadarrama. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more stressed on a vacation than while trying to navigate streets, conquer roundabouts and constant pedestrian ways, and park on incredibly narrow streets.

Real Monasterio

After arriving to San Lorenzo de El Escorial unscathed, we headed towards Cueva Del Oso, first passing the beautiful Real Monasterio and then following the magical hillside trail woven through massive, mossy boulders. The fun feeling of the beginning of the hike put us in a playful mood. However, we quickly found our directions were not exactly accurate, or, that the trail may have been overgrown. We lost our way but decided to explore the hills in our own way. Maybe it was the fact that we survived the car ride that emboldened us to take our hike off trail? I don’t know but it was not the greatest decision. The way “up” towards the peaks was two hours of a physically challenging climb but it was very engaging, like a puzzle and every time we turned around we were treated to stunning views if the villages below us and even of the highest buildings in Madrid. For a cloudy day the visibility was fantastic!

Sunset approaching over the village.

Eventually, exhausted and hungry, we realized there was not a way to get to one of the true peaks and focused our on navigating a way back down, over the giant slippery boulders and through prickly junipers and thorny shrubs before rain or darkness caused serious issues. We eventually made it but not without some bruises and scrapes and getting nice and muddy. We both were relieved (and shocked) that we didn’t have any falls and were just overjoyed when we reconnected with the true trail (I wanted to kiss the ground). Once it was over though, it felt like we’d gone on a true adventure and had us excited for what was to come during the rest of the week.
Thank you for reading,

Ruby

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