Best hikes in Madrid: Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza

Ruta Patones de Arriba a Cancho de la Cabeza

Today we want to take you on one of the best hikes in Madrid: the trail from Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza, in a beautiful day of walking from one of the most beautiful and picturesque towns in the Community of Madrid to the top of one of Madrid´s peaks with the best possible views.

This circular hiking trail ascends to the highest point in Patones, the Cancho de la Cabeza summit (1263 m). From there you get a spectacular panoramic view of the Sierra Norte, the Atazar reservoir, and the municipality of Patones. Shall we start?

Best hikes in Madrid: Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza

Technical stuff

How to get there: from Madrid to Patones de Abajo, which is where we will start the trail, it takes less than an hour, after traveling 60km along the A1 towards Burgos, taking the exit at kilometer 50 towards Torrelaguna on the Nacional 320. Once you have crossed this town, continue to Patones de Abajo on the M-102.
Where to park: the ideal thing is to leave the car in the Patones de Abajo parking lot and walk up to Patones de Arriba through the Senda del Barranco. Parking in Patones de Arriba is almost entirely limited to neighbors. The allowed lot is very small and it will be difficult for you to find a place.
Type of route: Circular
Total distance: 12.5 km
Elevation: minimum elevation 708m and maximum elevation 1263m
Duration: 4 hours
Difficulty level: Easy-Medium (not suitable for small children)
Type of path: Forest and dirt Trail
Best time to visit: any time but it is better to avoid summer or at least the hours of strong heat since there is practically no shade at any time of the route, nor sources of fresh water (only towards the end when you reach a stream ).

Best hikes in Madrid. Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza Trail: Stage 1

Barranco path

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

The Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza trail that we present to you today begins in the Madrid town of Patones de Abajo, which, as the name implies, is located below Patones de Arriba (abajo means below, arriba means above).

As soon as you park, the trail begins through the Barranco Path (Senda del Barranco) that will already give us an idea of ​​the type of landscape and vegetation that we will see along the way: riverside forests, agricultural landscapes of olive groves, vineyards and cereal.

This first stage runs parallel to the Patones Stream, surrounded by limestone cliffs, and in a 900 meters trail saves a height of 100 meters. It will not take us more than 20 minutes to cross this path, relatively easy for children although not very suitable for baby carriages.

Patones de Arriba

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

We will enter the town through its main square. As the Patones website says, “Patones de Arriba, is one of the best and most representative examples of black slate architecture, being a unique example in the Community of Madrid, which has made it worthy of being declared in 1999 Asset of Cultural Interest in the Category of Historic Complex, due to its great ethnographic and environmental value.

Best hikes in Madrid Patones de Arriba

To enter Patones de Arriba is to travel back in time, to a time when people lived purely and exclusively on what the land offered them. Their houses, perfectly camouflaged with the surroundings, magically dangle through steep streets that challenge even the most prepared hiker.

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

We recommend that before starting the ascent to Cancho de la Cabeza, you stop for a while in this town, walk through it, enjoy it, ascend to the top to discover the ancient ruins: the arrenes, fences and tines, all constructions related to the pastoral way of life of the old neighbors of Patones.

Best hikes in Madrid: Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza Route. Stage 2.

Ascent to the Cancho

To start the trail from the town, we must access the horses resting place, which is reached by following the cobblestone street from the Church in the main square.

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

Then, after going back a few meters, we will cross a stone bridge over the stream and begin, upstream, this beautiful walk, ascending little by little to the first stop: the place that separates Braña Grande from Cabeza de Peña Alta. There you will have already saved 270 meters of ascent almost without realizing it.

From there we will ascend slowly through a firebreak towards El Cancho. In spring the landscape will be a delight of colors due to the rockrose in bloom.

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

Once above, the views will be spectacular. From there you will be able to see the entire Atazar Reservoir and the northern mountains. Different mountainous formations of the Central System are observed, such as La Pedriza, Sierra de la Cabrera, Pico de San Pedro, etc.

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

Best hikes in Madrid: Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza Route. Stage 3

Descent to Patones

Just above the Cancho we will find a crossroads: one sends you to the Poblado del Atarza, another one will be the one through which we came, and the third to Patones de Arriba, directly downhill. We will have to take the last one, by the Calzones slope.

Best Hikes In Madrid Patones de Arriba

The descent has no loss, always following the indications.

Once back in Patones de Arriba we can enjoy a meal and a well-deserved rest before returning, down the Barranco Path, to our car.

Best hikes in Madrid: Patones de Arriba to Cancho de la Cabeza conclusions

This hiking trail is ideal for different types of tastes, since it offers us a cultural and architectural part in the town of Patones de Arriba with its black slate houses, and a beautiful natural part in a very little frequented environment if we compare it with the rest of the hiking trails in the Community of Madrid, the vast majority of which are in the Sierra de Guadarrama and its surroundings.

It is not a trail that can be done with small children unless they are carried with a carrier backpack  We use it on every hiking trail we go on to be able to enjoy a longer and more intense journey without putting the children in a tired situation. If they enjoy, we enjoy.

As we have told you, try to avoid the summer, or at least the hours of extreme heat. Spring is ideal to enjoy a landscape full of flowers.

And remember, always be an environmentally friendly hiker. Take all the garbage you generate with you until you can find a basket to throw it in, and if you can, take a bag with you to collect everything that other careless hikers have left along the way.

If we take care of the environment together, the roads will be more beautiful than ever. Good route!

Have you seen our Peñalara Circular Hike? Click here if you haven’t.


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