La Pedriza: a rockin' day hike
Hiking in the great outdoors is one of my favorite things to do. So finding good trails was a top priority for me once I moved to Madrid and I’m excited to share what I found with any other hikers in the area! A true gem that I hiked last weekend is called La Pedriza. A friend and I set out early on Friday and soaked in a day full of incredible of rock formations, views over valleys, and the changing colors of leaves (not common in Madrid). Getting a break from the city was just what we needed!
How do I get there?
This hike is located outside the city of Madrid near a town called Manzanares el Real. We left from the Plaza de Castilla intercambio de autobuses. Bus 724 will take you straight there. The bus ride was about 45 minutes and leaves about every 15 minutes or so. We got off at a stop in the town right across the La Plaza (a chain grocery store). This was a great place to get off because we could visit the castle and stop by the visitor’s center before embarking on our hike.
What do I do when I get there?
Despite doing some research online before going, we still stopped by the visitor’s center to pick up some maps. The woman behind the desk was very friendly and helpful. She gave us about 4 or 5 useful maps and clear directions to the head of the trail. The way to get there isn’t super obvious so her specific direction were a blessing. I’ll explain the directions, but I highly recommend stopping by the visitor center or reading up here before embarking. Plus a little preview of the maps we got :)
When you get off the bus, walk west toward Avenida de la Pedriza. You will turn right onto Avenida de la Pedriza before you cross a bridge. There are little road signs that point north in the direction of the trailhead. Walk for about 2km on this road and you’ll pass by a restaurant and hotel called El Tranco. Then you will begin to see white and red equal signs that tell you that you have made it to the trailhead. There aren’t obvious entrance signs (or any entrance signs that I could tell) so trust the white and red equals signs that are marked on rocks or trees. We stopped to ask someone passing by to confirm our direction because it wasn’t very clear the entire way. Eventually we stumbled onto the trail and followed the white and red equals signs. We also saw some yellow marks, but that is a different trail that sometimes overlapped with the one we took.
What is the trail like?
Beautiful, challenging, and not crowded. The views for this hike were gorgeous. There aren’t a lot of trees so you can see stunning rock formations for the majority of the hike. This also means there isn’t much shade so pack sunglasses/hat/sunscreen to protect yourself. The first part of the hike was fairly level with some rock clambering, but nothing too difficult. After you reach the first little town of Canto Cochino, you’ll pass through a field and start hiking up the mountain which is steep. The trail is narrow and footing can be challenging because the dirt makes the path slick at times. I had an old pair of sneakers and my friend was hiking in Primark shoes and we definitely recommend shoes with good traction because we were slipping and sliding juuuust a tad. No one saw us falling though because it wasn’t super crowded! Although we went on a Friday, it’s not on a beaten path for tourists – a huge win in my book. We blended in with the Spaniards, but my identity is always quickly foiled when I open my mouth and my American accent spills out.
You mentioned a castle?
The first thing we did was walk around Castillo de Manzanares el Real. This is separate from the hike, but we enjoyed exploring what the town had to offer. The castle was perched on the hill and had a wonderful view of the Santillana Reservoir. The entrance is 5€ which we didn’t feel like paying so we just walked around the perimeter.
I’ll be writing about all of my hikes, so let me know if there’s something I missed and I’ll add it in for future hiking reviews! Happy trails :)