Walking routes

Posted in Routes and trails

Camino SchmidThe Sierra de Guadarrama National Park has countless paths which were open time ago by the residents of the surrounding villages. All kinds of visitors have travelled those paths for their enjoyment. They give shape to a network with hundreds of kilometres and dozens of possible combinations.

This section presents a range of the most popular hikes in the Park, which will lead you to the most impressive sites of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.

Should you want to get more information on other hiking paths in the Community of Madrid, please look at www.sendasdemadrid.es. You can also refer to the website of National Parks Agency (Organismo Autónomo Parques Nacionales) or the one from National Centre for Environmental Education (Centro Nacional de Educación Ambiental), to get information on Mounts of Valsaín hikes.

Beginning or ending in:

Navacerrada Pass (Puerto de Navacerrada)

Schmid Trail (Camino Schmid)

Cercedilla to Navacerrada Pass.

Schmid Trail begins in the village of Cercedilla and ends next to the Cogorros military residence. (This area does not have an authorised parking lot, the closest being in the Navacerrada Pass). Most of the path layout runs through the Segovia province, in the South end of the Valsaín Pinewood (Pinar de Valsaín). In 1926, hiker Eduardo Schmid, a member of the The Royal Spanish Peñalara Alpinism Society, marked the route.

The trail runs along a beautiful succession of mature wild pinewoods and meadows. It is bordered to the north by the emblematic “Siete Picos” peaks.

To cover the way from Majavilán to the Corralitos meadow, which is alternatively the official start or ending point of the path, please follow the white circular marks on the Borbonic Roadway (Calzada Borbónica). The bridge named Puente del Descalzo is located between both sites, and La Fuenfría hostel, known as Chalet Peñalara, stands in the neighbourhood of the meadow.

When coming out of the meadow, please follow the Schmid Trail yellow circular waymarks. Soon after crossing the bridge over La Fuenfría stream and left to the forest track, you will see the beginning of a narrow path marked with yellow paint, which enters the pinewood and starts climbing.

The Fountain Antón Ruiz de Velasco, a good site to regain forces, is next to the crossroad with the forest track known as the Republic road. The long-distance route GR-10 has a section which runs through the forest track and intersects with the Schmid Trail in front of the fountain.

Then the path climbs to the Collado Ventoso wide prairie, which is boundary between Madrid and Segovia provinces and bottom of La Fuenfría valley.  When reaching this hill, it is important to go straight along, entering Segovia province and reaching the Navacerrada Pass through a dense pine grove, instead of turning right (into Majalasna peak) or left (into la Fuenfría Pass).

Difficulty: Medium
Time of year: All year
Start: Majavilán parking lot (Cercedilla)
Finish: Navacerrada Pass (Puerto de Navacerrada) parking lot
Waymarking: yellow circles of paint
Time to walk:
Distance: 7,8 Km
Summit: 1,895 m
Lower altitude: 1,387 m
Recommendations: This is a non-circular trail. You must prepare if you want to return to the starting point. In case you wanted to walk downhill, you would have to travel in the direction opposite to the one described. See weather forecasts, since the trail runs through a mountain area and there are sudden changes of temperature. Make sure you wear clothes and shoes which are appropriate for mountain areas. Follow paint signposts; they are yellow coloured, as the ones from the peak of Majalasna Peak trail (senda del Pico de Majalasna). Respect barriers, fences and fencing and leave them as they were.

Cuerda Larga

Navacerrada Pass to La Morcuera Pass.

This is a non-circular trail running along Cuerda Larga site. It allows hikers to enjoy superb panoramic views of the Lozoya valley and the plateau that hosts Madrid.

The trail begins in the wide path, climbing to the relay antenna facility La Bola del Mundo; many people has forgotten its original name is el Alto de las Guarramillas. The trail starts between two buildings, on the left side of the alpine ski desk hut. Then it takes South direction and steadily climbs to the Emburriaderos hill, which is reached after a 1,5 km walk lined by brooms and junipers. There, the trail turns sharply to the left and starts a 2 km slipway that is perhaps the hardest one of the whole walk, taking to the Alto de las Guarramillas.

It runs along soft summits that exceed 2.000 meters, accumulating large amounts of snow and ice in winter. Vegetal landscape consists of bushes and high grasses surviving to the environmental harsh conditions on this mountain range.

After leaving the Valdemartín ridge (Cerro de Valdemartín) and Cabezas de Hierro peaks, the trail descents to the Pandasco hill (Loma de Pandasco), then it reaches Asómate de Hoyos and Balilanderos peaks. More or less obvious, it tracks afterwards the peaks line, then reaches the Najarra col and leaves on his right side the same named peak, just before starting its final descent along a well-defined path, to La Morcuera Pass.

There, it is possible to reach Miraflores de la Sierra by the PR11 trail and the PR-M 12 trail.

Difficulty: High
Time of year: All
Start: Navacerrada Pass (Puerto de Navacerrada)
End: La Morcuera Pass (Puerto de la Morcuera)
Waymarking: No
Time to walk: 5 h
Distance: 18.2 Km
Summit: 2.362 m
Lower altitude: 1,779 m
Recommendations: In winter, due to low temperature, snow and ice, specific material is necessary. This is a non-circular route, so you could consider to move to the start in public transport or to use two vehicles. Since there are no waymarks, you will need to carry detailed maps or a GPS.

Los Cotos Pass (Puerto de Los Cotos)

Los Cotos Pass to Peñalara Peak (Del Puerto de los Cotos al Pico de Peñalara)

This trail climbs to the highest summit of the Sierra de Guadarrama, the Peñalara peak (2.428 m). The site has a wide environmental diversity and gives shelter to some of the rarest species. In addition, it holds Sierra de Guadarrama best glacial remnants.

It starts at the Peñalara Visitors Center (Centro de Visitantes de Peñalara), which is the reception and information point for the Peñalara Massif visitors, and offers information and documentation on the National Park and its trails. The path climbs to La Gitana viewpoint (Mirador de la Gitana) and the deposit hut; you should leave both to your right ant then continue by the forest track.  Further to a couple of bends on this wide road that ascends all the time, you will find the trail splits. Go straight, without deviating, and climb up a steep slope to the Height 2.100m. You will find there a new crossroad. The right path leads to the Zabala Refuge area, but you will have to take the left track, ascending the Peñalara slope in a zigzag, up to Dos Hermanas peaks. In this area, it is highly recommended not leaving the trail to take shortcuts, since this is a site where Peñalara environmental recovery works are particularly critical. From Dos Hermanas peaks, just follow the cliffs line up to the Peñalara peak.


Difficulty: High
Time of year: All except winter
Start: Visitors Centre Peñalara/Los Cotos Pass. M-604 Road, Km. 42
End: Peñalara Peak
Waymarking: Beacons and directional arrows
Time to walk: 2 h 30 min
Distance: 5 Km
Summit: 2.428 m
Lower altitude: 1.855 m
Recommendations: This high mountain trail is not suitable during the winter for non-experienced mountaineers. It requires technical and specific knowledge as well as material. Visiting the Peñalara Massif needs complying with some specific rules and regulations (group visits, leashed dogs etc.), you should learn about.

La Granja or Rascafría

Rascafría to la Granja by the Reventón Pass (Puerto del Reventón)

Non-circular trail running along the two slopes of the National Park and permitting to enjoy some of the best sights on Guadarrama mountains. The trail covers among oak trees an initial 9,5 km long stage and climbs up to the Carpetanos Mounts range. Then it runs downhill to La Granja gardens.

This is one of the eldest historic roads in Sierra de Guadarrama: it’s very first notice date back to the 18th century. It runs along a hard and lonely itinerary which is, every winter, clogged with snow for a number of months, then it should be tried only under excellent weather conditions.

It connects two unique monumental sites: El Paular Monastery (el Monasterio de El Paular), in the Madrid slope, and the gardens and palace of la Granja de San Ildefonso royal site.

In height zones, bushes dominate visual landscape. Common junipers and mountain brooms are the ones that best resist those adverse environmental conditions.

There are some Spanish Civil War remnants: parapets, trenches and bastions from the front-line which was established in the area.

From a ridge nearby the Reventón Pass (Puerto del Reventón), 2038 m, you will get the best panoramic sights. The view will encompass on one of the best alpine perspectives of the Peñalara Massif (from the edge named Risco de Claveles), the hill of la Flecha, the Carpetanas peaks, the Cuerda Larga range ensemble, the whole Lozoya high valley and the plains of Northern plateau, around the city of Segovia.

An opening in the Madrid and Segovia provinces stone boundary, allows you to continue your journey to La Granja.

Last half kilometre stage runs along the walls of the Royal Palace, shaded by centenary oaks and chesnut trees, and matching a cattle track (Vía Pecuaria) itinerary.

Difficulty: High
Time of year: All
Home: Rascafria
End: San Ildelfonso Royal Palace
Waymarking: Yes
Time to walk: 5 h
Distance: 16.8 Km
Summit: 2.039 m
Lower altitude: 1,165 m
Recommendations: In winter, due to low temperature, snow and ice, specific material is necessary. This is a non-circular route, so you could consider to move to the start in public transport or to use two vehicles. Since there are no waymarks, you will need to carry detailed maps or a GPS.

Manzanares El Real

Cancho de los Muertos Trail

This is a suitable trail for people with a minimum physical condition. The itinerary begins about 1.000 m away from the Canto Cochino parking lot. It enables hikers to observe how the Manzanares river influences the area vegetation, with willows, ashes and even some hazel trees growing on its shores.

The path runs along pine woods which have grown further to a reforestation. A variety of pine trees species can be detected, such as European black pines, cluster pines, and wild pines, mixed with Arizona cypresses.  In the underwood appear gum rockroses, flax-leaved daphnes, brambles plants, and in more open areas, topped lavender and thyms plants. Laurel-leaf rockrose, which has a wider leaf and less ladanon content than gum rockrose, becomes more frequent.

Species well adapted to the water scarcity grow among the rocks: a wide range of lichens and mosses, together with naverworts, sedum or foxglove plants.

Difficulty: Medium
Time of year: All
Home: Canto Cochino bridge
End: Canto Cochino bridge
Waymarking: Beacons and directional arrows
Time to walk: 2 h 30 min
Distance: 5.6 KM
Summit: 1350 m
Lower altitude: 1,027 m
Recommendations: In summer, avoid the middle of the day. Park vehicles in the parking areas intended for this purpose. Throw the wastes in containers. We are in a protected natural space, let us be respectful.

*Some of these itineraries can also be started in La Granja or Cercedilla; you can alternatively move to La Morcuera from Miraflores or Rascafría villages.

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