La Cabrera - Trail run in the snow
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
Whenever I drove north from Madrid, on highway A1, direction Burgos or the Basque Country, I saw a cool mountain range on my left side, about 30 minutes drive. And every time I drove by, I was more eager to explore it. The picture below shows what I mean. I had to borrow the shot because when I arrived and left, everything was cloudy and snowy!
I was again inspired by Trail running Guadarrrama, a book describing 20 trail runs in the Sierra Guadarrama. The trailhead and parking spot is right next to the A1, in the Calle de la Sierra. It starts incredibly hard - at least for me. From the road, there is only one trail - steep up the hill, heading towards the Pico de Miel, the dome-shaped peak on the right.
As you can see on the Strava route above, the ascend is a bit less than 1 km but makes 300 meters altitude. Impossible to run, again, at least for me :) You realize you are on top when you see the other side - obviously. There seems to be a path to get to the absolute top of the Pico de Miel, but being completely destroyed already, I opted to skip. Up there, everything was snow-covered, so I had a super hard time finding my trail. Luckily, I wasn't alone, and some extremely helpful locals showed me the beginning of the PR13 trail, marked with yellow and white colors. It starts maybe 10 meters in the opposite direction of the mountain top, in essence "to the left" when you arrive at the top. For the next 3 km, the trail stays on the mountain crest, and is incredibly beautiful, with large rocks and amazing views. The snow cover made it even more spectacular I felt, although running on slippery rocks was not the easiest. Generally speaking, the first half of the run was challenging, with the initial climb, snow, rocks, and frozen little streams covering the path, making it at times super slippery. Following the yellow/white PR13 is super easy, even if the snow covers the markers, there are always rocks stacked on top of each other to see where to go.
Right before km 4, I reached Collado Alfrecho, where I made the decision to descend from the crest down into the valley. I will say I regret not having followed PR13 further and surrounding Cancho Gordo, but it started to snow pretty hard, and the wind was blowing strong, so it felt safer (and warmer...) to cut it short. Both options eventually end on a paved road GR10, that I followed back east to the village of La Cabrera. You see on the map that before I turned, I explored a bit further the road that leads west to an Archaeological area, which is roughly where the longer route would have hit the road. The run back to and through the village is simple - I chose mostly using the road, but slightly north of town, there is a trail as well going through the fields.
I will need to come back for the longer circle, and with better weather, but super happy I did this.
In the meantime, this video shows the run on top of the crest: