Valle de la Barranca
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
I decided that today should be the day for my first proper trail run. Proper in the sense of right shoes, right vest, and right mountain. After a pretty disgusting left-over breakfast from the previous night's Indian desert, I headed towards Navacerrada, more specifically La Barranca. It is fairly easy to get there, depending on where you are in Madrid, just take the A6 or the M-607 north. Just follow your GPS :) The parking lot is big, but on weekends, it could fill up fast. Even in winter, when I left the parking lot around 11 am, there were only a few spaces. There is another parking area at the beginning of that road, but that adds easily 2 km each way to your run, on a paved road with cars. I'd try to avoid that.
I got inspired to do this run by this book, where the author Juanjo Alonso describes his favorites 2o runs in the Sierra Guadarrama. The trails range from 10k to 30k, and from easy to hard. I obviously picked an easy one, but I plan on trying more if not most of the runs in the months to come. I shall keep you posted.
The run starts by simply heading north on the paved road, which turns into a dirt road at the end of the parking area. You pass a couple of small lakes, and after about 1 km, you arrive at an adventure park, called De Pino a Pino. The road goes around the park, and after another ~500m, makes almost a U-turn. Exactly in that curve, instead of following the road north, you head south and start on a real trail, called Senda Ortiz, or SL-7. Easiest to see on the map below.
Several creeks cross the path, and in many cases, the streams decide to use the trail as ariver bed...As I found out later, this is true for most, if not all of the trails I used that day. I ran in mid December, so it was wet, and a winter storm just passed the night before, meaning rain and snow was now coming down the mountain. In short, it was rather a wet experience for some parts. You stay on this trail for another 2.5 km until you hit a broader road, where you turn right, further uphill. I forgot to mention - until that point, and for the next 5 km, the trail constantly goes up. Although it was a mix of clouds and sun, I was rewarded with some really nice views, which reminded me why we do this shit!
Around km 5.5, you have 2 options. Continue on the dirt road to the right, or make it a
bigger loop and pick the trail on the left. You can't miss that junction, cause there is a huge pole with signs in 3 directions. Furthermore, there is a view point on the right side of the trail worth checking out. I chose the left trail, heading towards Las Cabrillas / Camino de la Tubería. If you prefer a shorter run, continuing on the dirt road, down back to La Barranca, is a good option.
The trail becomes now more challenging. Again, this could be related to the weather and the rain and snowfall the days before, but for most parts, the trail is either the same as a small creek, or snow was covering my path.
The landscape is pretty epic, with the sharp peaks of several mountains to your left, up to 2000 meter high. At roughly the 8.5 km marker, the trail splits again. A yellow arrow points to the left, further uphill. The right is marked with a yellow/white banner, and goes downhill, again being more a small river than a trail. Not knowing where the left trail would bring me, I decided to go right. The path goes along the mountain, and enters the forest area, where is zig-zags until it crosses the main dirt road that we left earlier (remember the sign above?). You can turn left, and run on the road, or simply cross the road and continue for a bit more adventure.
The trail, itself a creek that day, goes along a larger stream, and overall pretty wet experience. Soon I hit the main dirt road again, and after 1.5 km to the south (including some loops I recognized from the way up), I arrive at the parking area.
I decided to start maintaining a map where I will try my best to add all major runs, areas, and important notes. Hope it is helpful.