Spring & Autumn 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 SpainEnjoy 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.

Begin 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 can choose from various daily walk options, depending on local conditions and your interests.

On this spring & autumn itinerary you’ll have 2 overnight bases, one on each side of the range: first in a higher northern valley where walks range from easy tramps up U-shaped glacial valleys to the main ridge, to forest and riverside strolls; then you’ll traverse on foot to a sunnier, southern valley for excursions through quaint local villages, mixed forests scented with oregano, thyme and rosemary, and ancient orchards of cherry, fig, sweet chestnut and walnut.

  • 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
Days
2-4

Tormes Valley – gateway to the alpine zone

Late morning transfer on Day 2 to your hotel in Hoyos del Espino, at 1500m elevation. Check in, pick up your picnic lunch bag and head out the door to start walking.

Several walking options for the next 3 days: Valley walks - on ancient trails near the pristine Tormes River and Mountain walks - “non-technical” hikes in the high mountains – depending on local snow and weather conditions and your mountain walking experience. In general, you can go as far as the snowline will let you.

Examples include a 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. Or a 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
5

Traverse to the Cinco Villas Valley

Today, you experience a dramatic shift in scenery, elevation and ecosystems as you walk to your next overnight base on the southern side of the range. Your scenic route follows the centuries-old Royal Livestock Trail to the pass at Puerto del Pico, then down one of Spain’s best preserved Roman roads, before heading through black pine forests and pretty terraced orchards to quaint San Esteban del Valle (850 m).

Overnight: 2 – 3 * equivalent inn in San Esteban del Valle

Day
6

Southern Valley trails

A choice of various circular routes to visit the other attractive traditional villages of this lovely valley, including the capital - Mombeltrán, with its impressive 15th century castle. Your walking will be along mule tracks, bridle paths and sections of the Roman road and Royal Livestock Road, scented with lavender and thyme among cultivated terraces of cherry, fig and olive trees alternating with sweet chestnut and pine forests.  Option to use a taxi transfer for a spectacular ridge walk instead.

Overnight: 2 – 3 * equivalent inn in San Esteban del Valle

Day
7

Return Home

Tour ends with breakfast. Travel back to Madrid via your choice transport (see below):

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 del Espino on Day 2; 1 return trip from Hoyos to La Plataforma for 1 day of walking in high mountains either Day 2 or 3 (additional transfers will cost 10 euros each way); transfer to any of walk start points on Day 4; transfer from San Esteban to bus station in Arenas de San Pedro on Day 7. Transfers for optional high mountain walks while based in San Esteban will cost 20 euros each way.
  • 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.

Spring/Autumn Itinerary
Price per person in twin/double rooms: from 775€

Single room supplement: 180€

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: San Esteban del Valle (170 km from Madrid – several daily connections by bus).
  • Walk Difficulty and Terrain: B+ to C-
  • Daily distances: 8 – 17 km /  5 – 10.5 miles
  • Accommodations: 2 -3* equivalent family-run “character” hotels or inns.
  • Spring-Autumn Itinerary Dates: April 1 – June 15; Sept 1 – November 15. Thursdays and Sundays are best start dates


See the Sierra de Gredos Picture Gallery