Many of the mountain valleys and gorges, which are carved in at the south side of Sierra de Gredos, have trails and tracks, some of them cairned, some of them marked, many of them unmarked. These are mostly old herdsmen trails which can be used nowadays for hiking purposes.
One of those trails makes accessible the Garganta de Tejea between Candeleda and Madrigal de la Vera, above the small village of El Raso. Garganta meens deep valley or gorge and Tejea means yew tree. It’s the yew tree gorge which is bordered to the east by the Peña de Chilla ridge, to the north by the El Aspéron – Risco del Gutre ridge and to the west by the Los Castillejos - Peña Caballera ridge. It opens up to the valley of the Tietar and Tajo rivers after opening out into the valley of the Garganta de Alardos. This Garganta and creek is the border between the provinces of Extremadura and Castilla y Leon, the Tejea gorge being situated completely in the latter.
There are many huge yew trees and the typical juniper trees growing in the gorge; this is a common landmark of the southern Sierra de Gredos. Besides that Garganta de Tejea is not a wellknown hiking area, e.g. compared to the Garganta de Jaranda near Guijo de Santa Barbara or the famous Garganta de los Infiernos in the Valle de Jerte. This gives you a good chance to savor this extraordinary landscape completely alone (besides some ibexes or cattle).
The first part of the route runs some 100 m above valley ground and regains the valley ground after passing by some old and abandoned herdsmen shelters, called Chozos, which are archaic stone rotundas with a wooden roof.
There you will hit several natural bathing tubs carved in the granite rocks where you can jump in and get refreshed. Or you have a lie-down on sun bathed, warm granite slabs and listen to the rushing waters. Finally the route ends at a height of about 1480 m at another Chozo below towering El Aspéron summit and you can decide wether to turn around and descend on the same route or continue off-trail up to the ridge of Los Castillejos or El Aspéron.
The route forth and back will be a bit more of half a days hike, a climb of the Los Castillejos ridge will require most of a day.
Trailhead for Garganta de Tejea is the small parking area at Puente de Pinillo at the end of a very bad dirt road above El Raso.
As this also is the trailhead for Peña de Chilla summit and the climbing area of Peña de Chilla it can happen that the parking area is complete. You may then try to park your car at the road junction shortly before the Puente.
You reach El Raso by car
All three roads meet at Madrigal de la Vera. East of Madrigal de la vera, just across the border between Extremadura and Castilla y Leon is the road junction with the local road to El Raso (signposts). At the village follow the signposts for the celtic archeological site (Calle Castro Celta). At the site follow the dirt road into the Garganta de Alardos and then the lowermost Garganta de Tejea.
At a switchback / road junction go straight on (the right hand road goes up to the parking area El Hornillo for the southern ascent to El Sagrao / Cuchillar de las Navajas or Almanzor via the Tio Domingo trail) and proceed on the road to Puente de Pinillo. Shortly after the bridge the road ends at the small parking area (2015: no fees).
Garganta de Tejea route
The whole route is cairned, stick to it as there are many other foot tracks mostly leading into mazes or steep rock terrain!
Follow the good level trail in to the Garganta de Tejea until you hit the valley ground. Follow the trail to the left, pass by some huge boulders and traverse a foot bridge over the Tejea creek.
Follow the trail on the other side of the creek and gain some height with some zigzags up the east slope. The cairned trail now goes northeast and north up the Garganta. 5 minutes after the bridge a trail branches off to the left. You can use this trail, ascending to the Majada El Postuero, a stone house, pass by it and follow the trail into the Garganta. Alternativela stay on the trail which goes straight on, ascends steeply the steep west slopes of the lower Garganta de Tejea and reaches the above mentioned main trail after a very steep ascent northeast of the Majada.
Now stick to this main trail, an old herdsmen trail which is still paved in some parts. This trail ascends high above the valley ground in northeastern direction with great views to the Peña de Chilla and Risco del Gutre. There are some switchbacks, many huge granite boulders, huge yew and juniper trees – a marvelous landscape.
At last you reach the Chozos del Tio Domingo, these archaic stone rotundas near a fresh spring, which were used as herdsmen cabins. Pass by the rotundas and try to regain the trail shortly northeast of the Chozos.
The trail shortly zigzags up a rocky slope and then descends to the now broader valley ground. The route winds through boulder and talus fields at the valley ground. There are many wonderful ponds cut in the granite rocks which invite for a refreshing bath and great sunbathed granite slabs for a nap.
You are now near Pie del Zapato where the valley divides (Arroyo de Charco Zarco to the right). There are some huge trees standing left (in the sense of the ascent) on the valley ground; aim to these trees as the cairned trail is sometimes washed away in this part of the route due to high waters. The best route is on the left side of the valley.
After the trees the trail is in better condition. Go straight on north some more 200 m of altitude difference through talus and scree, pass by some Chozo ruins and arrive at last at a hight of 1480 m at the Chozos de Tejea, where the route ends.
Back on the same route; about 5 hours walk up and down.
It seems to me that it is possible to go on north of the Chozos, off trail, ascending the south slopes on the west side of El Aspéron (about 800 m of altitude difference). To the left there is Collado de la Lagunilla (2231m), north of the summit of Los Castillejos (2288m), which can be summited easily from the col. Or you aim more right to the Llano del Aspéron (2296m), north and not far away of El Aspéron summit (2336m).
Red Tape & AccommodationParts of the Sierra de Gredos are protected as Parque Regional de la Sierra de Gredos.
This is the case for the part of the range which belongs to Castilla y Leon. The whole of Peñón de Casquerazo belongs to this protected site.
Information centers are at Hoyos del Espino (to the north) and Guisando (to the south). There is no entrance fee but several regulations to protect the regional plants and animals. You find regulation panels at the Plataforma de Gredos parking area.
Both on the south and north side of Sierra de Gredos are many accommodation facilities as hotels, b&bs, holiday houses and appartments and camping facilities. The north side is located at about 1200 m sea level and has a cooler and rougher climate than the mediterranean and sunny south side.
On the south side of Sierra de Gredos you will find all kind of accommodation at
Gear & Route Difficulty
The Garganta de Tejea is a simple hike which requires good shoes, hiking gear, maybe rain gear, hiking poles and, in the warmer period of the year, good sun protection.
As the route ends at about 1480 m Garganta de Tejea is a nearly years round hike.
Be careful with wet weather, rain or thunderstorms. The lower half of the trail is sometimes steep, exposed and can be slippery.
Mapa Excursionista – Hiking Map, scale 1 : 25.000, Sierra de Gredos, Circo de Gredos, Cinco Lagunas, Los Galayos, Editorial Alpina, number E-25
Parque Regional de la Sierra de Gredos, scale 1 : 25.000, Adrados Ediciones
Sierra de Gredos, Valle del Alberche y del Tietar, scale 1 : 50.000, La Tienda Verde