Discover the beautiful and inaccessible Maestrazgo with Trek Maestrazgo. Located at the eastern end of the Iberian System in north-east Spain, the area is characterised by contrasting landscapes; forests of Scots Pine and oak, rolling grasslands and meadows, deeply dissected ravines and broad valleys separated by rolling hills.
There is plenty of wildlife; ibex, muflón, wild-cats, otters, pine martens, foxes, hares, rabbits, wild boar and genets are all found in the area. Amongst the bird species are goshawks, Bonelli’s eagles, sparrowhawks, owls and Griffon vultures can be seen. You will also find a diverse flora that includes typical UK species such as ash, beech, poplar and elm as well as the more local Holm Oak and Black Pine.
Shepherding and livestock have traditionally formed the mainstay of the rural economy of this truly unique highland ecosystem. Trek Maestrazgo follows the old droving trails that crisscross the region. Used for centuries, these trails connected winter and summer grazing. Stopping-off in remote villages where time seems to have stood still, you’ll get a taste of authentic local cuisine and a flavour of the drover’s life.
The history of the area is long and varied, the first evidence of human occupation dates back to 25,000 years ago. Cave paintings and archaeological remains attest to the society of hunter-gatherers that occupied these mountains. Later, these peoples evolved into the Bronze Age tribes called the Ilercavones were also known to the Ancient Greeks and are referred to in texts about the Iberian peninsula.
Subsequently the Romans, Visigoths and then the Moors all ruled over the region. The area is also known as ‘El Cid’s Country’, after the Spanish noble famous for liberating the area from Moorish control in the 11th century.
|How to get here.
The nearest airports are at Valencia and Castellón. There are bus services to Alcalá de la Selva from Valencia and from Morella to Valencia.
Alternatively, we can arrange for taxi transfers to the start and from the finish of the trek.
|When to go.
The climate is cool and dry. The best times of year are the autumn and spring. Much of the area lies above 1000 metres altitude, so winters can be cold. We recommend avoiding the summer months of July and August unless you are used to walking in high temperatures.
|Day 1. Arrive at Valencia or Castellon airport for transfer to your hotel in Alcalá de la Selva.
|Day 2. Alcalá de la Selva to Valdelinares. This hike in the Gúdar mountain range climbs up through a forest of fine Scots pines to reach the peak at 1,900 metres. Here, the landscape changes and wide open spaces roll out before you like some giant magic carpet as you descend to Valdelinares.
Distance 13 Km. Walking time 4 hours. Ascents +550 m. Descents -430 m.
|Day 3. Valdelinares to Fortanete. We start at the southern end of the Sollavientos ridge and a splendid grassy moorland and extended plateau used for grazing. Leaving the plateau behind, the landscape becomes rugged, with steep ravines cloaked in Scots Pines. The path gradually leaves the valley and ascends to El Tarascón de Loras and a relaxing amble through the end of Gúdar dome. At Peñacerrada the route starts descending in the shade of pine trees, roses, barberry, boxwood thorns and ancient apple trees before reaching Fortanete.
Distance 17 km. Walking time 5 hours. Ascents +341 m. Descents -722 m.
|Day 4 . Fortanete to Cantavieja. At 1,353 metres altitude, the village is located at the foot of a hill in a wide valley with meadows and extensive woodlands of well cared for Scots Pine. The architecture shows the importance of the thriving wool industry during the 16th and 17th centuries. Our trail heads steeply northwards to the High Maestrazgo, at 1700 metres altitude, before reaching the pass at Cuarto Pelado. From here the route descends gradually to the River Cantavieja before ascending the last two kilometers to Cantavieja. Situated on a rocky spur high above the ravines the village is historic centre of the Maestrazgo.
Distance 17 km. Walking time 5+ hours. Ascents +470 m. Descents -520 m.
|Day 5. Cantavieja to La Iglesuela del Cid. Today we follow the GR8 long distance trail on drovers roads linking the traditional transhumance grazing areas. This is a day of ascents, four in total, and descents until we reach Iglesuela del Cid, a Templar village, within its walls replete with renaissance palaces. A highly recommended optional route to La Ermita del Cid (8 km) passes an area of outstanding dry-stone walls, stairs, stiles and even a dry-stone shepherd's hut.
Distance 22 km. Walking time 8 hours. Ascents +430 m. Descents -560 m.
|Day 6. Iglesuela del Cid to La Cuba. Today's landscape is a product of 16th century deforestation, as the wool industry was thriving woodlands were felled to allow more grazing pastures. The War of the Spanish Succession and the Carlist wars brought regular disruptions that have marked the area's economic decline from the 17th to the 19th century.The trail passes by long abandoned hamlets, mills, farmhouses that trace the history of a productive past.Your destination is La Cuba, a tiny village of 20 inhabitants.
Distance 17 Km. Walking time 5 hours. Ascents +220 m. Descents -509 m.
|Day 7. La Cuba - Forcall - Morella. Short 15 minute transfer by car to Forcall. From Forcall we climb for six kilometres until the 1,145 metre peak at Muela Garumba. Here there are panoramic views of extensive oak woods that cling to geological faults and fractures in the Early Cretaceous limestone.
The trail descends to the River Bergantes before the final kilometre climb up to Morella, which can be seen hours before reaching it.
Morella has a long and distinguished history. Notable for its fine medieval architecture, the town occupies a peak that dominates the surrounding countryside. Worth visiting are the church, the castle and towers, and Renaissance Palaces. Its walls have borne witness to legends such as El Cid, Rodrigo Diaz, who passed through Morella in the year 1084, or the Tiger of El Maestrazgo, Ramón Cabrera, a Carlist General.
Distance 15 km. Walking time 5+ hours. Ascents 460 m. Descents -370 m.
|Day 8. Transfer to airport for return journey.
|per person [min 2 persons]
|Single person supp.
|Per person [third person]
|Per person per night [min 2 persons]
|Single travellers supp.
Trek Maestrazgo – dry stone walled drovers trail.