La Pedriza, circular GR10-PRM1

La Pedriza is a rocky area in the northern part of Comunidad de Madrid, very popular with locals, hill walkers and climbers due to the spectacular rock formations. The round peaks of La Pedriza give away the fact that this small mountain range is very old. It is mainly formed of granite, from little boulders the size of a dog to absolutely enormous blocks the size of a small village, and there are lots of them!! No surprise that it is known by climbers worldwide.

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Typical granite formations

To get to La Pedriza you have to take the M-608 to Manzanares del Real either from N-1 or N-6, once you get to Manzanares, follow the signs for La Pedriza. That is the easy part. As this regional park is a protected area due to its beauty and its wildlife and it is also very popular, access by car is restricted, there is only space for approximately 300 cars, so early access is recommended especially at high season and weekends. Cars arriving after the car park is full can park outside the park and walk in. Books say it is just a 30min walk. I can’t confirm this as I haven’t done it myself.

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There are lots of routes in the park for different levels, but for today we are going to focus on a circular route that starts in Canto Cochino car park following the GR10 and the PRM1. You will find lots of info about walks and climbing and although there isn’t any official information about scrambling in the area, the possibilities are endless.

The route begins at the car park, from there you head east towards the barrier, after the barrier you will find a bridge crossing the river. Turn right after the bridge and continue for route GR10. A little way ahead the path opens up into a clearing. Stick to the left of this and you will see another bridge ahead of you that leads to the ascent.

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First GR mark after the first bridge.

The ascent begins straight up the hill however it isn’t very steep. The path isn’t very clear for the first few meters but soon becomes obvious.

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Open and clear GR10

The start is a little uninspiring as it starts in an area of low forest with no real views. but as you gain altitude you start to catch glimpses of the beauty ahead. Walls of pure granite surround the path and if you walk at dawn, you can admire the orange of the sun catching the highest peaks.

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Cancho de los Brazos

The ascent carries on steadily for 2.5km. At the top you will find one of the stone-refuges people use to stay overnight in the park as camping is forbidden. Once at the top the descent is also very steady almost flat. From the top you get a great view looking down at the bottom of Manzanares del Real and in the distance the city of Madrid.

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Manzanares and Madrid on the background

After about 500m the path soon reaches the junction with route PRM1 where you abandon the clear track of GR10 to start making your way through and past massive boulders, now following the white and yellow marks. Some can be hard to spot as they are painted within the granite monsters around you.

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Beginning of the PRM1

This path heads up through a maze of boulders and granite walls where in some areas we could see the bolts for the climbing routes. On this part of the track you head north except for when the path zigzags.  Keep this in mind in case you lose the path which is far less visible in this section of the walk. You head uphill for around 2.7km till you reach El Acebo.

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Boulder maze

A the top of this route I was delighted to come across a family of ibex coming down a 4m rock wall to graze, they weren’t scared and I could take my time to get some good shots. I found out later on that the park has an overpopulation of ibex.

Its not just ibex you will see in the park as the big granite walls of the park are the perfect place for vulture’s nests and they are not afraid to fly low in search of food.

This is the highest point of the route and for the rest of the day you will be heading downhill. The path is a bit steep and rocky to start with till you reach the Collado de la Dehesilla. At this point you will see route PRM1 continues straight ahead but you need to take the path heading to the left and return to route GR10.

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Almost at Collado de las Dehesillas

From the col, the path heads south west through a little forest that at some points clears allowing you to gaze up at the big walls of Risco de el Hueso and El Pajaro where you will almost certainly see climbers. This section takes you to Refugio de San Gines, where you can take advantage and have something to eat if it is open.

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Risco de el hueso.

From the refuge you have two options, the easy, busy way or you can head off the beaten path. From the refuge, the most common path descends into an open meadow where you cross the river and follow route GR10 till you get back to the car park. If you fancy a bit more of an adventure, before you reach the meadow, there is another path that follows the river but on the east bank. This path is very hard to see at some points, so if you don’t fancy getting lost, stay on the main one. It will take you to the second bridge you crossed on your way up.

Heads up if you are allergic/sensitive to pollen and it has been a long period without rain. All the pine needles spread the pollen in a thick dust with the smallest breeze

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Although it was freezing cold to start with (-5) it turned into a lovely day. It was an easy route of 10.8km that took me almost 5h and allowed me to discover this spectacular park so close to home. Plenty to wildlife to see, and lots and lots to discover still, especially on the climbing side!

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