In a certain way, San Millán might be considered as a twin summit of San Lorenzo
(2273 m). True, they are separated by some nineteen kilometres, but both are placed in the Sierra de la Demanda. This is a not too big massif of the spanish Sistema Ibérico, between the provinces of Burgos and La Rioja. The landscape is one of rounded summits, covered by rocks in the highest cases and by pines in the lower ones. But both mountains go over 2000 meters high and represent the highpoints of the referred provinces.
Many dirt roads (in spanish “pistas forestales”) go across the Sierra de la Demanda, but most of them are not available for use by visitor’s cars. The main two trailheads for San Millán are the villages of Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión (under the north face of the mountain) and Pineda de la Sierra (on the west side). No routes are particularly difficult when attempted in clear sunny weather, but bear in mind that winter attempts can be particularly harsh. These mountains are the highest ones in many miles around, and therefore can act as a magnet for strong winds, snow and cold temperatures.
Pineda de la Sierra
The trailheads of Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión and Pineda de la Sierra can be easily reached from the city of Burgos, placed scarcely 50 to 60 km to the west. You must leave Burgos by road N-120 (towards Logroño), leaving it southwards when you reach the village of Ibeas de Juarros. Turn right and take the road towards the village of Arlanzón, going on until the barrage of Uzquiza. Just after bypassing the barrage, a (poorly paved) road to your right leads to Pineda de la Sierra in an additional 14 km. If you intend to start your climb at Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión, pay no attention to this crossroads and keep going for another 8 km (or so) to reach that trailhead.
Camping, lodging and huts
There’s no real need for camping, for San Millán is a feasible one-day climb. But –as far as I know- camping is allowed without much trouble. Simply pay attention and use your head, asking for permission should you intend to camp at spots that could seem to be privately owned. And one more thing: the area is protected as a Natural Park by the regional government (Junta de Castilla y León). That means a special regulation of the massif; I will try to gather more information on this but for the moment please respect nature and do not leave any traces of your visit.
I’m not aware of any mountain huts in the area. Some lodgings are available, though, at Pineda de la Sierra and the -rather close- village of Pradoluengo.
As stated before, the mountains of the Sierra de la Demanda are a rather friendly area in summer time. But in winter time they can be really cruel to visitors. In our visit to San Millán, we found fog, strong western winds and rain. Doesn’t take much to think it could have been much harder should the wind have been a northern one… Full winter equipment (clothing, crampons, ice axe and so on…) is compulsory if you are going to make a winter attempt.
External LinksPineda de la Sierra
: Official web page of the village council. Rather scarce, I'm afraid...
Pineda de la Sierra - lodging
: contact details for the few available lodgings in the village. Only spanish version