Summer Hiking in the Sierra de Gredos Mountains

A 7 DAY & 6 NIGHT SELF-GUIDED HIKING TRIP

Explore one of Europe’s best kept secrets — Castile’s Sierra de Gredos — the highest and wildest mountains in central Spain. Enjoy superb walking in an area of abundant nature, great scenery and traditional culture, unscathed by modern development and mass tourism, and offering much quieter trails than in more well-known Spanish ranges such as the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa.

Our itinerary begins with a night in Ávila, one of Iberia’s best preserved medieval cities (UNESCO World Heritage site). Next day, head to the mountains where you’ll be able to choose from a variety of daily walk options, depending on local conditions and your interests!

This summer itinerary uses only 1 base in the higher northern valley and is designed for exploration of the cool alpine zone with daily opportunities for easy summit ascents. You’ll enjoy grassy meadows, spectacular ridge walks and simple scrambles on beautiful granite, as well as lower-elevation riverside trails and opportunities for refreshing dips in natural river pools. A highlight is an excursion to the Gredos Cirque and glacial lake, with 1 overnight stay at the emblematic mountain hut there. Options are available to stay a 2nd night to allow better exploration of the cirque or just visit as a day trip and stay at your hotel every night.

  • Ávila – this walled medieval city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great introduction to the Castile region
  • Traditional mountain villages – authentic rural Spain where locals harvest their orchards and olive groves and tend their livestock as in years gone by. You’ll likely to see them walking with their donkeys, or riding horseback down the main street of town!
  • Fauna & flora – ibex, multicoloured lizards and soaring birds of prey jostle for the walker’s attention with spectacular views, myriad lichens, wildflowers and butterflies.
  • A world-class mountain environment – within the Spanish mountaineering and climbing community, Gredos is considered one of the country’s prime locations, and is the setting for training courses run by top outdoor schools for ice climbing, alpine and ski mountaineering, traditional and sport rock climbing, parasailing, mountain biking, etc.
  • Easy access – just 90 minutes west of Madrid by train or car, the location of the Gredos is perfect for adding a day or more to your trip to visit other historic cities of Castile, such as Segovia (85 km from Ávila)  or Salamanca, (100 km from Ávila) or Toledo (just 75 km from Madrid).

Day
1

Ávila

Individual arrival in Avila, Spain’s highest provincial capital (1130 m), with 11th – 12th C. walls and Spain’s earliest Gothic cathedral. Avila is also famous as the birthplace of Santa Teresa, the 16th century mystic and ascetic, and where she founded her order of nuns – the ‘Barefoot Carmelites’.

Overnight: 2 – 3* hotel or inn in Avila

Day
2

Transfer to Hoyos del Espino – Tormes Valley Walks

Explore Avila in the morning if you like, then transfer to your hotel in Hoyos del Espino, at 1500m elevation – gateway to the alpine zone of Gredos. Check in, pick up your picnic lunch bag and head out the door to start walking. Your notes will include plenty of choices for each of next 5 days. Following is a suggested itinerary:
Begin with the Gredos Regional Park visitor centre, just a short walk from Hoyos, for an excellent visual presentation of the park and its fauna and flora. Then walk through pine forests on an age-old Royal Livestock Drover’s Trail to the a superb natural swimming spot in a sheer-sided chasm.

Overnight: 3* hotel or inn in Hoyos del Espino

Day
3

Candeleda Pass

Next day, your 1st walk in the high mountains, to the favourite hunting grounds of General Franco and Spanish kings! Ancient paths lead to a traditional pass used by smugglers over the centuries for superb views over the Tiétar Valley, 1500 m below. Ibex and griffon vultures are sure sightings here.

Overnight: 2 – 3* hotel or inn in Hoyos del Espino

Day
4

The Gredos Cirque

The Gredos Cirque is the jewel of the range, an immense arête-ringed amphitheatre and glacial lake, dominated by Almanzor (2592m), the highest peak in central Spain. Get there via an easy ascent to the summit of Morezón (2340 m) for unparalleled views of the jagged panorama of the cirque, then a simple scramble down to Elola Hut.

Overnight: Elola Mountain Hut at 1950 metres elevation

Day
5

Return to the Valley

Various return options exist but one we like is via the rarely-visited Gredos Gorge, spectacular terrain with numerous pools and waterfalls.

Overnight: 2 -3* hotel or inn in Hoyos del Espino

Day
6

Ridgewalk to La Mira or Tormes Valley Walk

On your final day, either walk along the main ridge to the summit of La Mira (2341 metres) for unmatched 360º views into four Spanish provinces. A gentler alternative follows the meandering Tormes River to lovely slickrock pools.

Overnight: 2 -3* hotel or inn in Hoyos del Espino

Day
7

Departure and end of tour

From Hoyos del Espino you will be transferred back to Avila’s RENFE train station, where you can get trains to Madrid or other destinations. Alternatively we can arrange a taxi transfer all the way to Madrid.

Includes:

  • 6 nights accommodation
  • 6  breakfasts, 5 generous picnic lunch bags, 2 dinners with local wine & bottled water; other nights explore on your own.
  • Detailed daily route notes, 1 high-quality topographic map and colour photocopied supplementary topographic maps with daily walking routes marked. Hotel contact information, some local city and town maps, public transport schedules and other information necessary to complete your personal itinerary. One set per room.
  • Telephone numbers for local English-speaking contact for help in event of emergencies, etc
  • All luggage transfers to complete itinerary between start and end points (Days 2 – 7).
  • Transfers: Avila to Hoyos on Day 2; 3 return trips from Hoyos to La Plataforma for walking in high mountains on any day (additional the transfers will cost 10 euros each way paid direct to driver); transfer from Hoyos to Avila train station on Day 7.
  • Airport transfers or travel to and from tour start and end points are NOT included. TAXI TRANSFERS CAN BE ARRANGED.
Extra night prices include excellent buffet breakfast and taxes.

NOTES ON OVERNIGHTS AT MOUNTAIN HUT

SCHEDULED DAY 4 OVERNIGHT AT THE ELOLA HUT:  the Gredos cirque and surrounding area is best explored by using the Elola Hut as a base, BUT IF you prefer NOT to sleep in the hut but rather in your hotel—we can arrange this— and instead you can visit the cirque on day walks. A supplemental charge of approximately 20 euros per person will apply.

OPTIONAL DAY 5 EXTRA OVERNIGHT AT THE ELOLA HUT:  we offer the option of staying a 2nd consecutive night at the hut, thus allowing the possibility of climbing to the summit of Almanzor or visiting the neighboring Cinco Lagunas Cirque. A supplemental charge of approximately 20 euros per person will apply.

Summer Itinerary
Price per person in twin/double rooms: 705€

Single room supplement: 100€

Extra nights in Ávila at start of trip:
40€ per person (double/twin)

55€ per person (single room)

  • Duration:7 Days, 6 Nights
  • Start Point:  Ávila (120 km from Madrid – several daily connections by rail or bus)
  • End Point: Avila
  • Walk Difficulty and Terrain: Spring-Autumn: B+ to C-    Summer: B+ to D-
  • Daily distances: 8 – 17 km /  5 – 10.5 miles
  • Accommodations: 2 -3* equivalent family-run “character” hotels or inns. 1 night in a mountain hut (shared bunks, shared toilets, etc.), with 2 options available: spend this night in your hotel instead, at a small additional expense (20€ per person) OR spend a 2nd night at the hut at small additional expense (20€ per person).
  • Summer Itinerary Dates: June 1 – Sept 30. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays are best start dates


See the Sierra de Gredos Picture Gallery