Fluvial Weekend in Teruel

Here’s the review of our trip around some the wonders of Teruel province, during which we have done two hikes – Sendero fluvial de Aliaga and Nacimiento del río Pitaruqe, and also visited several small towns in the area.

As the road from Valencia to Aliaga was expected to take quite a while, we’ve decided to make a stop and visit one of the villages along our way through the Teruel province. The choice fell on Mora de Rubielos, and it proved to be a good one, since the town has several places of interest, such as Fernández de Heredia castle-palace, the still standing defense towers, and the Ex-Colegiata de Santa María temple.

Due to the late start (the plan was to hike in the evening to avoid heat), we were getting pretty hungry, so an impromptu stop, this time for picnic lunch, was made in one of the remote small towns, right before arriving to Aliaga. The village we stopped in was Camarillas, the lunch spot being the square right in front of the ruins of the town church. Again, the location turned out to be suitable, and curiously scenic this time. The town felt quite abandoned, and the ruins of the church (with the insides being seen through a broken door) together with the empty square, had their share in adding to that feeling.

Upon arriving to our hotel, La Parra, in Aliaga, we decided that we will not have dinner there, but will buy something in a local shop and have dinner at a terrace of one of the rooms after the hike. The hotel is in great location and the terrace has spectacular views, which were the things that made us tilt towards that option, but it also meant a visit to the supermarket was due. This necessity ended up making the hike a bit of a race against time (for me), as we started hiking at 5pm, but the supermarket was only open from 6 to 8. In the end this was not a big deal, as the hike was short and without any hurry we were back in town by 7:30.

The surroundings and views from the terrace

Sendero fluvial de Aliaga is an easy, and quite a scenic route in the heart of Aliaga Geological park. Although there are several starting options, we started our hike from Aliaga, making our way along the river, heading towards Aldehuela and its power station. The first part of the route is quite easy and mostly flat, and gives you many opportunities to observe and contemplate the green surroundings.

But what caught my attention when selecting routes for this trip, was the fact that the fluvial path had a variety of man-made metallic footbridges that take you up and down, and along and across the river. Although they require a bit more effort, these pathways are not that difficult to traverse and are suitable for most hikers.

The hike also presents a big contrast between the narrow paths along the river in the first part, and the wide open area next to the reservoir in the second, with an old power station adding some industrial motifs to the general feel of the area. Even though the main building of the power station is not used these days, it still contributes heavily to the landscape. The reservoir itself is not very big, and can easily be walked around, while some scenic elements along the way change every other minute.

The town itself is well worth a visit. It has the castle ruins on top of a peak, from which you can get decent aerial views. The main gem of the area is, of course, the above mentioned geological park. The rock formations are extremely unusual, you can find multiple spot with huge rock walls, seemingly cut out of the mountain by a knife, some of them just 0.5-1 meters wide. At night you can also observe these walls illuminated by projectors, which gives you the opportunity to appreciate them in a different light.

The following day the plan was to do Nacimiento del río Pitarque trail, starting from the small town of Pitarque, just 18km from Aliaga. We decided to make an early start and have breakfast there, right before heading out for the hike. Little did we know, this would turn out to be quite a bizarre experience. We’ve traveled through small towns in the Spanish interior quite a lot already and are mostly used to the level of service provided, but the experience in Pitarque topped all of them. Apparently the only breakfast options in the bar (the only one opened) were two types of magdalenas and a coffee/tea. Even getting a bottle of water to go, turned out to be quite a challenge. Nevertheless, we went on with our hike, which makes you forget about things like these and focus on the surroundings, which are breathtaking. In order to move forward, you are making your way through the huge canyon, made by the river millions of years ago.

The first 2 kilometers of the trail are quite dry, but as you progress and pass by a waterfall, you find yourself walking on wet paths, having more and more contact with water. This culminates at the end of the trail – the headwaters of Pitarque river, as the river is in full flow there and you get to walk up right next to it. Here it is possible to walk through the water, and even go for a swim, although the water is ice-cold all year round and nobody in our group was eager to jump in the water. The area is quite wide and there are several ways to scramble and get a bit farther ahead.

Waterfall and the headwaters

Fun paths and overall view of the area

As the hike was finished, it was time to go on with the final part of our journey – visit Cantavieja and have lunch in one of the restaurants there. Cantavieja belongs to the list of one of the prettiest towns in Spain, so you can expect a variety of beautiful old streets, a very well preserved buildings and great mountainous views, all of which were present indeed. Finding a spot to sit down and eat was not that hard here, despite it being a reasonably well-known touristic attraction, but I guess not that many people visit this town in summer.

To sum it up – it was pretty fun trip and the area really deserves being visited again. It would highly recommend spending a couple of days in Aliaga Geological park, and also reading about and doing The Silent Route along A-1702 road in this part of Teruel.

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