Casa de Campo
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
I am writing about Casa de Campo pretty late because it is likely the natural first choice for any runner in the Madrid area. After running a few circles in pretty but packed Retiro, the much bigger and (often) emptier Casa de Campo is the next logical station. The park is super easy to access, and parking is available most of the days. I say most of the days, because in recent times, especially with COVID-related travel restrictions, the weekends became very busy. The two main parking areas are "Lago", next to the lake on the south-eastern edge, and then La Manzana on the west side. Lago is the more popular entrance, especially for folks from central Madrid. As you can see, besides several parking lots, there is a metro station of the same name if you prefer public transport. Around the lake are a handful of restaurants that are popular with bikers as well as families. If the main parking lot is full, there is a parking area south of the lake, off Paseo de la Puerta del Ángel.
On the west side, the main parking area is at the Rodajos entrance where you can find La Manzana, a popular tapas bar, which has an amazing backyard (there is seating BEHIND the building!).
Most of the park is surrender by a wall ("el muro"), that's true at least for the west, north, and parts of the east side. It's a common run, you see an example above in the map. I typically start at the Rodajos entrance and it's about 13-14 km to come back. There isn't a lot to explain, just stay next to the wall or fence. The only somewhat confusing area might be the long descend back from Lago to the start of the run, where several trails and roads cross. Simply try to roughly head west, and even if you took a wrong turn, you will sooner or later hit the wall - which you then follow back to the parking lot. I typically leave the Zoo and the amusement park on my left, because of cars and too many people, but you can certainly a few km by getting closer to them.
The park has a gazillion of trails, and I highly recommend simply explore and get lost, with a bit of a sense for orientation (or a phone, alternatively...), it's always easy to get back to the start. For those preferring asphalt or maintained trails, the roads on the map above are exactly that: either they are paved or with a fine gravel surface. For those of you wanting to avoid them, there is almost always a trail next to such a road with a softer underground. Speaking about roads, they are closed for cars (except the ones around the Zoo and the Parque de Attractiones), you will see only maintenance and sometimes police vehicles, as there is a police station close to Lago.
What I love about Casa de Campo is the fact that there are fountains sprinkled throughout the park, which comes in handy in the summer months with 40+ degrees celsius, The fountains are currently closed due to COVID regulations, as well we normally in winter, to avoid bursting the pipes in case it freezes. While the optimist thinks that we won't have an issue in the summer of 2021 and the fountains will be functional, there is a simple trick to switch them on: next to each fountain, there is a manhole cover about 1 meter away, which is easy to lift. Just pull the handle 90 degrees, and you have water. But close afterward again. While this might technically not be allowed, it feels smarter than dying in the Madrid summer heat. This map shows the location of the water fountains.
One area I particularly like, and that is often used I learned by professional runners is "El Bosque", in the center of the park. I marked it blueish above. This rectangle has pretty flat trails and is at one of the higher points of the park. The trails have distance markers that help with workouts.
Casa de Campo is connected on the northwest side to the "Parque Forestal Adolfo Suarez", highlighted in orange. It is a separate area, with its own loop of around 5km, which is a nice option if you are looking to extend your wall run. There is only one entrance that connects the two parks through a steeper trail, which is marked above with a star. The park itself has its own parking lot that you can access through the village of Humera.
Other options to enter the park, or extend your run, are the connections to the Anillo Verde on the east side, next to the highway M30. The Anillo Verde is a bicycle (and running!) trail that surrounds Madrid. A bit long for a casual run with its 50 km for me.
Lastly, right on the east side of the lake, the road brings you to Madrid Rio - where you have the option to run for about 5 km along both sides of Madrid's river, the Manzanares.