The Sierra Espadán has some of the most epic routes in Communitat Valencia. We did the classic Pico Espadán route via Gurugú Peak (also known as Peña del Pastor). The route was challenging but very fun. It included ropes, inclines of over 30%, a lot of scrambling and some human sacrifices.
We started in the village of Alcudia de Veo, in Castellón province. The first few kilometres of our hike were through a valley where we could appreciate the autumn colours on the trees. This path was relatively easy to follow and we soon turned onto a local trail marked by red and green paint. The colours of the markers led to us renaming this route as the Watermelon Trail.
We reached the road, which we had to cross, and then the real hiking began. The trail went steeply up through the cork forests which are characteristic of the natural park. We also found a pile of stones where we sacrificed Anxo to the mountain gods – which was a bit of a pain in the neck for him.
Our sacrifice obviously worked and afterwards we were blessed with our first set of ropes. Although the path was steep, we didn’t actually need ropes at this point. However, we used them anyway for the fun of it.
The final ascent to Gurugú Peak (Peña del Pastor) was very steep. Here ropes would have been useful but of course there were none!
Gurugú Peak is 989m above sea level and it marked the start of the ridge we needed to traverse to get to Espadán Peak (1099m). From here we could see The Acorn Peak (Pico Bellota) and Aín. This is where the route really starts getting technical with a diverse range of rock formations and narrow passages to navigate.
It was easier to scramble over many of the rocks of the ridge because of their slanted angle. We also had to stop for a large pack of hunting dogs and their owners who were casually walking through a no hunting zone with hunting rifles.
This part of the route included ropes again but this time we needed them! We had to hold on tight as we walked along the edge of the ridge. It was a lot of fun and added yet another challenge to this ridge route. The route also has many examples of civil war trenches which form part of an extensive network across the Sierra Espadán.
We reached the Espadán Peak which is marked by a cross. There are awesome views across the Sierra Espadán. We stopped for lunch and photos and found out just how many way we could pose on a cross. From the Peak we could see Alto Palancia, Alto Mijares, L’Alcalatén and Penyagolosa on the horizon.
Going down the epicness continued. The trail went steeply down through the cork tree forest. The descent soon turned into an impromptu trail race for some of us. Personally, I think running down was a lot easier than walking down. We also stopped to cook Cate when we found some bush craft and made her our second human sacrifice.
When we reached the end of the trail, we walked through a valley to Toro Cave (Cueva del Toro). We explored the cave and the aqueduct before following the trail back to Alcudia de Veo. Once again this trail allowed us to enjot the beautiful autumnal colours of the leaves.
The Espadán Peak route had been described as epic and it certainly was! There are a great range of terrains and inclines which make it a fun challenge for experienced hikers. It was a great hike which was made even better by the wonderful company of the group, many puns and cookies and beer afterwards.
Thank you to Cate for the additional photos😊.