DISTANCE: 41,4 km (a circular route)
DEPARTURE AND ARRIVAL POINT: Valsaín Square.
HOW TO ARRIVE:
Option A:Colmenar road M-607 and M-601 up Navacerrada Port. Go on to La Granja-Segovia by CL-601 road. Get Valsaín and continue 400 m.Turn left, continue 700 m to enter at Valsaín Square, besides a house with a poster that says "Hospedaje".
Option B:AP-6 road to La Coruña. Exit AP-61 to Segovia (both toll roads). Exit SG-20 to La Granja. Road CL-601 to La Granja. Get La Granja and continue to Valsaín, by Navacerrada Road. Turn right at km 10,8. Continue 700 m and turn left to get Valsaín Square, besides a house with a poster that says "Hospedaje".
Madrid-Valsaín-La Granja: Linecar (www.linecar.es). Exit from Madrid: Estación Sur de Autobuses (South Bus Station)- C/ Méndez Álvaro.
Road CL-601 to La Granja. Get La Granja and continue to Valsaín, by Navacerrada Road. Turn right at km 10,8. Continue 700 m and turn left to get Valsaín Square, besides a house with a poster that says "Hospedaje".
Segovia-La Granja-Valsaín: La Sepulvedana (www.lasepulvedana.es)
APPROXIMATE DURATION: 3h 30´ - 4h, plus the time spent enjoying the spots you go through.
ALTITUDE: DEPARTURE – ARRIVAL: 1198m.
ALTITUDE: MINUMUM AND MAXIMUN: 1197-1752m.
SLOPE: MAXIMUM: 17.2%
DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE: Plaza de Valsaín – Cruz de la Gallega – Fuente de la Reina and Puerto de la Fuenfría along the old Roman Road. Back to Fuente de la Reina along the forest road of Puerto de la Fuenfría and down as far as Venta Los Mosquitos –CL 601 in the direction to Puerto de Navacerrada – the forest road from Cueva del Monje to Pradera de las Vaquerizas – the sawmill of Valsaín and riding across the CL601, arrival at Plaza de Valsaín.
This route is designed as a mixture of routes nº8 and nº9.
The difficulty of this route is medium-high due to the steep slopes; the total distance may not be advisable for beginners. However, our Naturcleta EÑE will help you in the hardest slopes such as the road to La Cruz de la Gallega and the ascent along the old Roman Road from Fuente de la Reina to Puerto de la Fuenfría. We must also notice the slopes of the first part of the forest road from Cueva del Monje to Pradera de Vaquerizas.
We start at Plaza de Valsaín next to the ruins of the old castle in the direction of the forest road from Valsaín to Robledo; and after a gentle slope we turn left towards the cemetery of Valsaín. Then we ride on through a gate and start our ascent to Cruz de la Gallega along a few hard slopes. We then get to a crossroads leading to Cerro Matabueyes and Cabeza Grande. We ride on straight along the forest road as far as Fuente de la Reina. Leaving Fuente de los Pájaros on our left we reach a clearing in the forest.
The old Roman Road on our left will lead us to Fuente de la Reina, which shares its way with the route Camino de Santiago. Then we take the way to the left and ride along a gentle ascent and go around Cerro de la Camorca as far as the prairie of Venta de la Fuenfría, with the ruins of the Venta and a magnificent view of Sierra de Guadarrama. We ride on and soon will get to Fuente de la Reina. From behind the fountain we will take the road to the right that leads us to the archeological remains of the old Roman Road towards Puerto de la Fuenfría. After a short rest we will resume our way back through the forest road that runs parallel to the Roman Road, popularly known as Carretera de la República or Carretera Piricelli, built during Spain´s Second Republic. This way leads us again to Fuente de la Reina. Now we must take the way to our right along the asphalt path and start riding down towards the remains of Venta de los Mosquitos, by the CL-601, at the beginning of the well-known Siete Revueltas (seven sharp bends) that lead us to Puerto de Navacerrada.
We resume our route and after going through a gate, we start the ascent along the CL-601 as far as the first bend; now we turn left, but we must be extremely careful while crossing the main road to take the forest road on our left. Going through the gate in front of us we take the forest path popularly known as the path from Cueva del Monje to Pradera de Vaquerizas. Go straight along and then take the detour that leads us behind the sawmill of Valsaín through the forest path Nogal de Calabazas.
The first part of this route has some steep slopes but it is worth the effort to enjoy the spectacular landscape around us, alternating areas of a dense pine forest with incredible prairies, piles of wood and viewpoints that are authentic balconies on to the heart of Sierra de Guadarrama. This area is dotted with lots of streams that flow down the mountainsides and become vigorous when a thaw sets in. We can point out the prairie Vaquerizas also called Prado Redondillo, before getting to the prairie Cueva del Monje and then ride down again to the sawmill of Valsaín. Finally we reach the CL-601 and cross it towards the prairie of Valsaín, cross the bridge of Valsaín and reach the plaza where our route ends.
The route wanders about areas of melojo oak (between 1100 and 1350 m), and as we climb up the road there appears a forest of Scot pines, the typical pine tree of the mountains of Valsaín. Also in the first part of the journey we find several specimens of ivy climbing up the pines. Dotted about the route there is a good number of holly trees and hazel trees at the foot of the hill Tetas de Vaca. In the last part of the descent from Cueva del Monje to the sawmill of Valsaín we come across a wide area of melojo oaks.
A very unteresting phenomenon happens to this type of oak in the mountains of Valsaín, known as marcescencia, through which we can observe 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.
Cruz de la Gallega: Riding up from the cemetery and after a fork in the road leading to Cerro de Matabueyes and Cabeza Grande, about 100 meters away from the hill we find some military remains from the Spanish Civil War; they belonged to the National Party with the coat of arms of the Falange (five arrows joined together by a yoke); sometimes there is a castle in the coat of arms that represents the Army Corps of Engineers. The access to these remains is through the gates situated along the walls. Some of them are very well preserved and are worth a visit. Besides, the view from the hill is magnificent. Can you imagine the life of the soldiers in that parapet the whole winter?
Ascent along the old Roman Road: This was the road that the kings used to go to Valsaín through the mountains until the end of 18th century. Though its origin is actually Roman, most of it belongs to the end of the 18th century.
Pradera de la Fuenfría: It is a magnificent prairie next to Fuente de la Reina. Here we find the remains of Venta de la Fuenfría or Fonfrida, built by D. Gutierre Miguel, bishop of Segovia about 1200. Five centuries later it became a small village where travelers crossing the mountain through Puerto de la Fuenfría used to stop by and have a rest. It was demolished in 1794 due to the gradual deterioration and the construction of the road to Puerto de Navacerrada in 1788. Over its ruins a forest house was built; it was later abandoned. A literary anecdote: Cervantes introduces the Pícaro Rinconete to the readers in this way: “I, Sir, was born in Fuenfrida, a well-known place, and very famous for the great number of travelers, which are continually passing through it: My name is Pedro del Rincon, my father is a gentleman, for he is a minister of the holy crusade; that is, he is one who publishes the Pope's bull; for some time I assisted him in this office, and learned it so well, that I would not turn my back on anybody in the business. But one day taking a greater affection to the money arising from the profits of the bulls, than to the bulls themselves, I laid hold of a bag, and made the best of my way with it to Madrid, where with the many opportunities I had of spending my money, I soon drew out the very intrails of my bag”. (Translation taken from: http://www.4literature.net/Miguel_de_Cervantes/The_Comical_History_of_Rincon_and_Cort/2.html)
Fuente de la Reina: Also called Fuenfría or Matagallegos, due to the fact that Galician reapers who came to Castilla la Nueva through this pass, used to stop at this fountain on their way to Central Spain to reap the fields. Don’t forget to fill your bottle with this excellent water.
Casa Eraso: Built by Francisco de Eraso, Philip II’s secretary in 1565, in order to accommodate the members of the court on their way to Palacio de Valsaín. The snow gathered in winter was kept in the house and was used in the palace during the summer. According to a local legend, these ruins belonged to the Convent of Casarás, an old Templar monastery, and the ghost of a Knight wandered along the mountains riding a white horse.
Puerto de la Fuenfría: At the top of the Puerto take a short rest and imagine the history of this area since the construction of the old Roman Road over 20 centuries ago until 1788 when the new way to Puerto de Navacerrada started to be used. This pass had been used not only by reapers and traders but also by members of the Kings´court on their way to Palacio de Valsaín and then to Palacio del Real Sitio.
Puente del Minguete: Situated on the way down from Fuente de la Reina to Venta de los Mosquitos, next to a sawing mill. This is certainly a good place to stop, get off the bike and enjoy the murmur of the stream from the shade of the nearby pine trees.
Venta de los Mosquitos: Placed next to the bridge la Cantina or los Mosquitos. Riding down Puerto de Navacerrada along the CL-601 we find the ruins of the
old Venta on our left hand side. It was built in 1788 and used to be a common stop for carts that transported big wine barrels to La Granja and Segovia. It was a resting place both for travelers and animals. Later it was used as a Guardia Civil garrison and barracks until 1913.
Pradera de las Vaquerizas: Found in the first half of the route, it is a good place to stop after the inicial steep slopes.
Viewpoints between Pradera de las Vaquerizas and Prado Redondillo: These are special places in the forest clearings to enjoy a nice view of the mountains.
Bridges las Pintadas, Valdeclemente, los Quebrados, etc.: Stop as you reach these bridges to watch the landscape and hear the murmur of the streams, a present from Mother Nature.
Prado Redondillo: A vast prairie to take a rest in the middle of the route.
Cueva del Monje: 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: A nice place to stop, drink some fresh water and restore our strength.
Nogal de las Calabazas: It is the name of a prairie we find on our way down on the left before reaching the gate that leads to the sawmill of Valsaín. A wooden table and a bench remind us of a huge centenary walnut with a circumference of about 3.7 m. According to the legend, young people used to sit and picnic under the walnut. It is said that the nuts coming from the tree turned into pumpkins that were given to unpleasant people.
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 de la Reina where you can rest and gather strength.
For the most daring people, as you reach Pradera de la Fuenfría, take the way to the left that leads you to Cerro de la Camorca (1814 m.). There is a mountain refuge, a guardhouse and also a spectacular view of Segovia, La Granja and the mountains. It is advisable to leave the bike in the prairie, though the most experienced ones can get to the top helped by our Naturcleta EÑE.
From Cueva del Monje you may find groups of trekkers and cyclists, due to the popularity of this route. Take every precaution while riding down. You may find others on the way.One of the greatest pleasures of riding along the mountains is to be able to enjoy the smell of saw-cut pinewood so intense as you ride next to a sawing mill. Let your sensations seduce you!