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Most of the people that climbs Peñalara starts their routes in Puerto de Cotos. Routes allways overcrowded, where it is almost impossible to be alone, even in the middle of winter or in bad weather... Even hiking at night, to have an encounter is possible! …Do you think this is an exaggeration? Well... see at this link to a panoramic view (360º) taken on summit
in november 2005.
But there are other options, like this route. It joins the two routes that we can consider as normal in the segovian slope of Peñalara. Varied itinerary, it combines a nice long walk by forests, more quiets and solitaries than the routes from Puerto de Cotos, with a panoramic and some rough ridge. The price you pay is an elevation gain of 1,300 meters (double than from Cotos) but this is not excessive and the way up is very gradual. Finally, starting and finish in La Granja gives you the opportunity of visit the ancient royal palace to complete a nice day.
On the summit, with Risco de los Claveles in the background.
I only want to warn against the ridge of Los Claveles in winter. In summer, it just has trouble; nevertheless, when ice appears on the edge, accidents happen every year and this place accumulates too many deaths already. This is due to the terribly poor conditions of the ice that forms there, very brittle because of being permanently punished by very strong winds and with temperatures that fall very little of 0ºC. No matter how prepared and well equipped one is; to pass that section when iced means always an objective danger
. Given that there are good possibilities to avoid the edge, going by the northern flank, in my opinion, to take these risk don’t worth
* Elevation gain
: Approximately 1,300 meters.
* Minimum / Maximum Height
: 1,150 ms / 2,430 ms
: About 5h15, altogether, not counting stops.
: Very easy. Except a short stretch of horizontal ridge, slightly exposed, the route passes by footpaths and roads.
* Done for the last time
: June 29, 2008.
The palace: garden's front. The palace: general view.
The route starts in La Granja - San Ildefonso, a touristic and historic village of 5,000 or 6,000 inhabitants, with all kind of services (hotels, restaurants, banks, shops, etc.).
, you can go from Madrid, 90 kms by Villalba, San Rafael and Revenga, or from Segovia, about 20 kms. The more practical place to park the car for the route is around the traffic circle in front of the gates of the palace grounds, where both roads arrive. For a convenient route by car from our point of departure, I recommend to use the Michelin website
, from Madrid is no matter: there is only one a day and too late to start the route. It is better from Segovia, with very often trips along the day and from early in the morning (7:40 AM in 2008). To go from Madrid to Segovia there are buses almost every hour and since 8 AM weekends and 6:30 the rest of days.
You can also go from Madrid to Segovia by train
. AVE (the high speed train) takes only half an hour and first trip in the morning is at 7:10. The standard train station is better placed for linking with buses but is slower (more than 2 hours).
You can find more accurate information about public transport schedulles (and some other practical matters) in the website Infosegovia
The gates, route's starting point.
: La Granja - Arroyo Carneros - Vado de Oquendo - Puerto de los Neveros - Risco de los Claveles - Peñalara - collado de Peña Citores (2,165 ms) - Arroyo de las Quemadas - Cueva del Monje - La Granja.
Map taken from the digital sheet "GUADARRAMA" published by Editorial Alpina.
1.- The ascent: Arroyo Carneros and Puerto de los Neveros
Enter the gate of the compound of the palace
and turn immediately to the left (NE) to take Calle de los Infantes
(Princes Street). By these one and its continuation, get to Paseo de Santa Isabel
(St Elizabeth Walk), and take to the right (SE), following the wall that delimits the palace garden. Soon, the street becomes a road and after a footpath, marked with wooden posts and signs painted in yellow and white. Upon reaching the garden corner, let the wall and follow the marked path, that continues straight ahead to the southeast, across the slightly sloping meadow. Shortly after cross Arroyo del Morete
(Morete Stream), the path gets in a pine forest and follows the course of another stream, Arroyo Carneros
(Rams Stream), by its right bank.
Northeast wall of La Granja Palace's Garden. The forest in the banks of Arroyo Carneros.
Following the marks with attention, you will go up through the forest; although there is several crossroads and changes of path, the signs allways indicate the correct direction. In Vado de Oquendo
(Oquendo’s Ford), a little bridge facilitates the crossing of Arroyo Carneros. After a while going up across a variety of grounds and steeps, you will arrive out of the forest, to a hillside covered with juniper and broom; beyond the neighbouring hill, to the right, stands the summit ridge of Peñalara.
Vado de Oquendo. First view of the summit.
The path continues by the western gully of Puerto de los Neveros
(Snowdrifts Pass), a narrow groove cutting the bush in the hillside. Near of the pass, when a rocky crest is visible to the right (SE) on top of a gentle and wide grassy slope, let the marked footpath and follow some cairns to the right (SW). Anyway, the direction to follow is clear: to the southwest, by the top of the hill, towards the crags.
Puerto de los neveros: western ravine. Crags of Los Claveles and Los Pájaros, seen from Los Neveros.
The path becomes clearer when meets the route, much more stepping, that comes from the lagoons in the east face of the mountain. Following it, go up by a rocky slope to Risco de los Pájaros
(Birds Crag). From this modest peak, continue on the ridge towards the following rocky prominence: Risco de Los Claveles
Reaching Risco de los Pájaros. Ridge from Los Pájaros to los Claveles.
When finding the rock, the path surrounds it by its right (north) flank, through a stone quarry. In case of ice, this is the more advisable and safe option. If not, take to the left an evident and very easy gully, feasible without hands but where scrambling is more comfortable. From the peak, turn to the right and follow an horizontal blocks ridge, with several breaches and falls in both flanks but wide and regular enough to walk on it. After this rocky section, continue walking across a wide and grassy slope; a few minutes are enough to reach the summit of Peñalara
Gully of Risco de los Claveles. The ridge towards Peñalara.
You can see the views from the summit in this panoramic
(the same that in Overview section).
2.- The descent: Arroyo Quemadas and Cueva del Monje
To return to La Granja, you can to go back on your steps or to descent by the other normal route of the north slope. For that, let the summit to the northwest, the opposite side in to which you arrived, allways following the footpath and cairns. You must reach the col 2,165, neighboring Peña Citores
(the yellow hill in the right of the photo bellow). For that, when the path on the ridge begins to rise, turn to the right and let it to go down, through a prairie gently sloping, towards the col 2,165.
Risco de los Claveles seen from Peñalara. Going down towards Peña Citores.
When reach the pass, take the footpath that crosses it to the right and follow it down along the northwest ravine, wich joints shotly after to Arroyo de las Quemadas
(Burnt Stream). Cairns mark the path, that sometimes disappears under stones or bush. The ground is rugged and riddled there, very uncomfortable to walk. When arrive to the forest, the path diverts to the left, away from the waterbed and becomes wider and clearer.
The NW ravine of col 2,165. Reaching the forest by Arroyo Quemadas.
Finally the path becomes a dirt road shortly before meets another, in asphalt but without traffic of cars. Turning to the right (NE) follow it for 5 kms (about 3 miles), passing near Cueva del Monje
(Monk’s Cave), pile of stones that forms a hollow that, according to a legend, served as a refuge for a hermit about 500 years ago. After a while, you will reach a crossroads, next to a bridge. Let the asphalt and take a footpath that enters under the trees, just in front of the road by wich you arrived, keeping the same direction (NNW). Walking always to the north and northwest trough the forest, changing the road when needed for, soon you will see the palace’s wall among the trees. Follow it, keeping it on the right, to reach the road La Granja – Puerto de Cotos; taking it to the right (NE) you will arrive to the starting point
in few minutes.
The asphalt road. Footpath near of La Granja.
Not technical equipment required.
Only the adecuate clothes and other individual elements (sticks if you want, piolet & crampons in winter, etc.) for medium / high mountain hiking in temperate areas.
Regional mountain weather forecast: Spanish government weather agency
Touristical information about Segovia and La Granja: Infosegovia
On Real Sitio (the Royal Palace), there is this private webpage, mutch better than any official site about: Realsitio
If you don't understand completely the text on this page or you want to practice another languages or simply you are a little eager, you can find the original issue in Spanish in the website Pirineos3000.com
(La versión original en español de esta página se encuentra en Pirineos3000.com)