DISTANCE: 22,7 km. Circular route
DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL POINT: Puerta de Cosíos, La Granja (south access to La Granja Palace Gardens).
HOW TO ARRIVE
Option A: Colmenar road (M-607) and M-601 up to Navacerrada Port. Then go on CL-601 road to La Granja and Segovia. Turn right at km 8,6, just before a big poster who says “San Ildefonso”. Then continue 250 m to get the Puerta de Cosíos.
Option B: AP-6 to La Coruña. Exit AP-61 to Segovia. Exit SG-20 to La Granja. CL-601 road to La Granja. Arrive to La Granja and go on to Madrid and Navacerrada Port up to km 8,6. Turn left and continue 250 m up to Puerta de Cosíos.
Madrid-La Granja: Linecar (www.linecar.es)
CL-601 road to La Granja. At La Granja continue to Madrid and Navacerrada Port up to km 8,6. Turn left and go on 250 m to get to Puerta de Cosíos.
Segovia-La Granja: La Sepulvedana (www.lasepulvedana.es)
APPROXIMATE DURATION: 2 hours – 2 hours 30 minutes, plus the time we will take to enjoy the different spots we pass through.
ALTITUDE: DEPARTURE –ARRIVAL: 1183m.
ALTITUDE: MINIMUM AND MAXIMUM: 1145m-1732m.
SLOPE: MAXIMUM: 18.5%
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE: La Granja (Puerta de Cosíos) – Silla del Rey – Valsaín – Polo Stadium – Puerta de Cosíos.
The difficulty of this route is medium-high, probably not fit for beginners. The ascent to La Silla del Rey has some steep slopes that we can climb up with the help of our Naturcleta EÑE. We must take great precautions once we reach the summit; there is a steep dirt track downhill called Camino Forestal del Tío Levita. We must also pay attention to the traffic as we cross the CL-601 on two occasions: first after coming back behind the sawmill of Valsaín to continue as far as La Granja along the Carretera Forestal between Valsaín and Robledo; secondly near to the end of the journey past the Polo Stadium of La Granja, we have to cross the CL-601 again to continue along the path that leads us to Puerta de Cosíos, where our route ends.
This route starts and finishes at Puerta de Cosíos, the south gate giving access to the Gardens of the Real Sitio. Opposite the gate there is a barrier, along which our way leads us to the oak forest. We start a gentle ascent surrounded by oaks and pine trees, reaching the Paso del Vado de los tres Maderos. After taking the track to the left we cross the stream La Chorranca and a tough ascent starts. The steep sections of the climb go around the hill. As we reach the summit we see ahead of us a magnificent view of Peñalara, the highest peak of Sierra de Guadarrama.
From up the hill a trail starts on our left that leads us to Cerro del Moño de la Tía Andrea, where the Silla del Rey is located. The ascent must be made on foot (for about 10 minutes) after tying the bike to a tree. We continue the ascent to reach the highest point (1732m). We must take precautions because a fast and vertiginous descent starts to link with the forest track of La Cueva del Monje that will lead us to Valsaín near the sawmill. After crossing the road we head for Carretera from Valsaín to Robledo until we reach Vereda de Valparaíso. We cross over the Bridge de Pasaderas and go past the Polo Stadium; and finally riding along the trail parallel to the CL-601 we reach Puerta de Cosíos in La Granja.
The route wanders about an area of melojo oaks (between 1100 and 1350 m), and as we climb up the road there appears a forest of Scot pines (between 1200 m and 1900 m), the typical pine tree of the mountains of Valsaín.
A very interesting phenomenon happens to this type of oak in the mountains of Valsaín, known as marcescencia, through which we can observe that the melojo oaks start losing their leaves late in October, though it is common to see how dry leaves remain in the branches for a long time during the winter. The new leaves begin to sprout quite late (mid-May); this proves how well they adapt themselves to the late snowfalls, so common in the area.
Another curious phenomenon called oak gall takes place in the oak forests. The oak galls are brown balls the size of a walnut provided with some sort of thorns that often form a crown and have a spongy interior and a corky appearance.The galls are present in many species and are tumor-like structures induced by insects and other arthropods, nematodes, fungi and even bacteria. These galls are the plant’s response to the presence of parasites -usually a type of wasp that injects the larvae - with an unusual growth of plant tissue that attempts to isolate the attack or infection.
FUENTE DEL CHOTETE: You can divert the way before reaching the summit around Cerro del Moño de la Tía Andrea, along a trail that indicates the fountain. After recovering from the ascent you must go back and follow the route.
LA SILLA DEL REY (KING'S CHAIR): After the ascent around Cerro del Moño de la Tía Andrea, we reach the summit and need to walk along the trail on our left to get to La Silla del Rey. Historically speaking, Francisco de Asís de Borbón, Isabel II’s husband, was so fond of La Granja that he ordered a seat to be erected on top of the mountains of Valsaín with the best overview of the area. He did it in the same way as Philip II in 16th century, who wanted to follow the construction of El Escorial from a chair erected on the nearby mountains. From La Silla del Rey on the mountains of Valsaín Francisco de Asís could enjoy a magnificent overview of La Granja Palace and the beautiful Guadarrama mountains. Sculpted in the stone there is an inscription of August 23rd 1848.
FUENTE DE LA CHORRANCA: In the highest part of the route, over 1700m high, there is a stone sign indicating its location. Take a swig of fresh water and rest for a while.
CUEVA DEL MONJE (MONK'S CAVE): Placed next to a plant nursery. According to a legend the Knight Templar Hugo de Marignac set off for France with the secret mission to hide a treasure in Siete Picos mountain. As he reached the court in Valsaín he fell in love with Condesa Blanca, who ignored him since she was in love with Roger de Alenza. As an angry lover he wanted to give the countess a present for the palace. It was a petrified statue of Roger de Alenza. The countess did not accept it and did not want to meet Marignac any more. As a last resort to win her love he asked a monk for advice. The monk Oriel asks him to let him know where the treasure is. Marignac kills the monk and kidnaps the countess. He is chased by mounted soldiers and as Marignac and the countess reach the top of the the hill, known as Ventana del Diablo (Devil’s Window), they fall down the mountain and disappear. The legend tells that Hugo did not die and his ghost wanders about the mountains of Valsaín.
FUENTE DEL MILANO: The right place to stop and drink some fresh water and regain strength.
PRAIRIE OF VALSAÍN: Close to Valsaín bridge, stop for a while and watch the extraordinary views of the prairie and the mountains in the distance.
POLO STADIUM: Built by order of Alphonse XIII, who was very fond of this sport, it was inaugurated in 1910. He played polo very few times since the Palace of La Granja caught fire in 1918 and the King decided to spend summers in another place. The last game was played in 1934, when it fell into disuse until it reopened in October 2011, after the rehabilitation work carried out by the High Sports Council and National Heritage.
A few suggestions will help you enjoy your ride: Bring along some water and food (dried fruit, chocolate, cereal bars). Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. And don´t forget your sunscreen lotion, above all at the central hours of the day.
Stop at Fuente del Milano and Fuente La Chorranca (you may also divert to Fuente del Chochete), where you can rest and gather strength, while drinking some fresh water.
In the esplanade of Cueva del Monje or close to La Silla del Rey it is high time to take a snack. Another recommended stop is on the banks of River Eresma close to Puente de las Pasaderas. These are magnificent scenarios to delight the senses. Back in La Granja enjoy the gastronomy of the place as much as you can. You deserve it.