Hoces del Duraton: A weekend getaway from Madrid
Less than an hour and a half away from Madrid is the wonderful Hoces del Duraton Natural Park, a more than perfect getaway if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital and be in contact with nature. There are six trails that this park proposes, of different difficulty and length. We choose to do three of them that we want to introduce to you so that you can choose the one that best suits your tastes.
HOCES DEL DURATON TRAILS
CAMINO DE SAN FRUTOS TRAIL
In order to enjoy one of the most beautiful trails in the park Hoces del Duraton, you must first reach the town of Villaseca, and from there take a 4 kilometer-long gravel and dirt path (and a state so lousy that there is even a road sign at the beginning of the road that warns you about it).
Doing it by car is easy, the problem was having to endure for 4 kilometers the sound of the forks crashing against each other inside our motorhome (yes, we did it with our motorhome, read about it here). But we arrived (and in fact, we even slept in the parking lot in case you were just wondering if you can).
Once there, only one kilometer of hiking awaits you, a very easy one (especially the one that is downhill, although the slope is not so pronounced), but one kilometer of imposing beauty as you find yourself on top of the cliffs from where you can appreciate, from the different viewpoints, the magnitude of these sickles that are formed by the Duraton River in its passage (that´s why it is called Hoces del Duraton, as, in Spanish, Hoces means sickles).
The river looks like a lake because the nearby Burgomillodo dam slows down the flow of water and makes its movement almost imperceptible in this part.
The walk down the hill is to the San Frutos Hermit, which is currently in ruins but in a state that allows you to imagine how it was in its splendor, when San Frutos and his two brothers built it in Romanesque style in the twelfth century to devote their lives to contemplation (and what a place to do it).
The sunset from this corner of the Hoces del Duraton park is simply impressive, added to the fact that it is the time when more griffon vultures can be seen over the skies, just there, within reach, even some of them will fly below you; although if you want to enjoy the place in solitude, there is nothing better than doing it at dawn.
DOS RÍOS TRAIL
The next day we walked one of the most beautiful trails we did in Hoces del Duraton, and in Spain as a whole. In just 5 kilometers, you go from the bank of a river to the impressiveness of the mountains, and even to the tranquility of the main square of a typical Spanish town.
And we did it with our two-year-old child, so if you are asking yourself whether if it’s a hike to do with a kid or not, well it is (not with a stroller though, but it is ideal to have a backpack transporter although our son walked during most of the trekking).
The trail starts at different points of the Hoces del Duraton Park but it is ideal to do it from the parking lot near the Talcano Bridge (if you click on the word parking you will see the coordinates on the map) since there are two of the trails from our list that start from there, and if you are traveling by motorhome, you can also sleep there and take advantage of the next morning.
No words would be enough to describe this trail, so I’m going to leave you some photographs that will speak for themselves. In many websites, they will tell you that this path can be done in an hour and a half.
But we recommend that you dedicate all day to stop to live the place, to enjoy the views. An hour and a half may be enough to do it, but that would mean without stopping, not even to breathe.
And if you’re already here, in the park, what’s the point of hurrying? (read our post on Slow Travel here) And traveling with children means that the concept of time is different. If you are a parent, you will definitely understand me.
So without further ado, here are the photos so that you can enjoy the scenery of Hoces del Duraton and imagine yourself in it.
LONG TRAIL: FROM TALCANO BRIDGE TO VILLAR BRIDGE
This 6 kilometers trail (one way), can be extended 8 kilometers more if you continue up to the Villaseca bridge, but not being a circular route and having to return through the same road, we decided to do it halfway. As I told you before, we like to go slow, enjoying the place, and we felt that 20 kilometers with a child were too much.
The trail starts from the same parking lot as the previous route and runs under the cliffs and through a thick and beautiful forest bordering the Duraton River, where you can see the beautiful flora and fauna of the place.
If you do it early, you can enjoy the amazing solitude that comes from being in contact with nature, away from the noise of engines, listening to the water, and seeing the awakening of the vultures that, unlike the path of the Hermitage where you can see them a few meters away, they are now up there, on top of the imposing cliffs.
Along the way, we crossed paths with many cyclists who were doing this trail, so it is also ideal to explore with your bike (if it is mountain bike because it is not suitable for city bikes). The road is mostly flat so it can be done perfectly with children. I leave you more photographs so that they also speak for themselves.
As you have seen in the photographs, the Hoces del Duraton Natural Park offers wonderful and very diverse landscapes, to enjoy as a family, or even in solitude, escaping a bit from the chaos of the city. In summer the park is usually quite invaded by tourism so it is ideal to visit it out of season, in spring or autumn.
Another issue to take into account when choosing the date, is that it can be explored in its entirety only from August to December since there are several sectors of the park that between the months of January and July are closed for the breeding season of the local fauna.
So you know, if you have a weekend available do not hesitate to choose this destination in order to disconnect. You can also look at these other five natural landscapes of Spain that we propose in this other article.