The sierras around Madrid

One thing that escapes many is the sierras or mountain passes and outdoors available just outside the city of Madrid.  In my youth I used to come by Navacerrada, Cercecilla,Villalba, Guadarrama, and San Lorenzo a lot with my family and friends.

These were nice moment spent outside the grinder of the city, and especially in summer it was great. In Winter too, but my first encounter with the snow trails at Navacerrada turn into a twisting roll down the mountain that almost cost my life, luckily came out ok, but took me away from the slopes forever.

Now my boys are into it, and they have been with our family there, and I have gone back to drive thru and see the beautiful scenary.  The idea of this post is to let you know a bit more of glorious Madrid, and its Comunidad de Madrid and its sierras.  

First the Navacerrada mountain pass and ski resort is fantastic, and the only medal winner in the Olympics games of Sapporo 1972 came from here.  The Navacerrada is a complete resort nowdays with all modern facilities.  You have 9 slopes in the zona alta or high hill and 7 slopes in the zona baja or low hill; the zona baja is for beginners and such and the zona alta is for pros. It has 9 lifts to carry you all over the mountain. At this moment the station is close for maintenance but its the end of the season, really, be ready for next winter. However for summer splurges and walks into the valleys or a ride by car it is still wonderful. Most folks visiting arrive here by train, leaving from Estación de Chamartín in Madrid you take the cercanias or suburbian train C-8b to Cercedilla ,and the the C-9 or train of Cotos to Puerto de Navacerrada. Info tel +34  902 240 202, and train webpage RENFE , www.renfe.es  . There is a bus service as alternative but never taken it,it is every day from the  intercambiador de Moncloa in  Madrid on line  691 of the firm LARREA (Tel Autobuses LARREA +34 91 851 55 92 – Tel Intercambiador de Moncloa bus station +34  91 520 48 00). webpage bus company http://www.autobuseslarrea.com/

Then you have it by car, my way. You have two ways recommended, from Madrid on the A-6 to Collado Villalba and here take the road M-601 direccion Segovia until you reach Puerto de Navacerrada.  A better way off expressways is to take the road  M-607 (the ones from the north of Madrid direction  Colmenar Viejo, and follow the signs for Puerto de Navacerrada. The Madrid route planner is good on Repsol for all of Spain here http://www.repsol.com/es_en/motor/default.aspx

I have not stayed here as make my trip from Madrid where I do have family or friends, but I hear good things for the Hotel La Barranca, wonderful area in tune with nature. webpage http://www.hotellabarranca.com/ and another one recommended by a local mountaineer is the Hotel Sierra Real with webpage http://www.hotelsierrareal.com/eng/index.htm

For eating there is loads of places of the good Castilian cuisine high in the mountains, one is the Restaurante La Fonda Real right in the hotel La Barranca, delicious cochinillos or little piglets roasted, the place is house in an old postal carriage stop. http://www.hotellabarranca.com/lafondareal.htm ,and for gastronomy at its best and the lechazo in the area try Restaurante Felix el Segoviano, at http://www.ruralocio.com/felixelsegoviano/

This is the official site for the Puerto de Navacerrada in Spanish, http://www.puertonavacerrada.com/

The other towns are smaller but plenty of outdoor activities around the embalse or water reservoirs especially around Cercedilla as well as mirador or lookout points to see farther into the Sierra. In addition walk trails such as the Siete Picos, in the village of Adesgam for 5 kms and low density for all. And for the more experience and with good weather the 17 kms of Puerto de Navacerrada to Manzanares El Real.  Here is good to be base at Cercedilla at the nice Venta del Puerto de Navacerrada ( a venta is a hotel with food service or pension sort of) very nice in real country; 80 rooms with prices from 9-12 euros per day no web tel + 34 91 852 14 32 . For a bit more comfortable try the Casona de NavalMedio, webpage here http://www.casonadenavalmedio.com/ For eating we have tried the Casa Ochoa right by the train station in Cercedilla, typical mountain resto ,webpage http://www.casaochoa.com/ as well as the beforemention Venta del Puerto de Navacerrada.

These webpage with some sections translated into English will help seek out all the information you need on this vast area, that will need several visits to know it all. Even I ,admit have not seen it all here,its a huge Sierra. For the Guadarrama Sierra in general this site is great , http://www.sierraguadarramamanzanares.org/ And this one in Spanish , Por la Sierra (by the sierra) its like the news of the Sierra various towns, but has plenty of videos and moutain food recipes too, enjoy it, http://www.porlasierra.com/index.php

If you go to the section San Lorenzo or EL Escorial in the above Por la Sierra link you will see wonderful videos of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, a UNESCO world heritage site.

And if you like to go further north in the Sierra Norte and reach Buitrago del Lozoya then you will be thrown back to medieval times in an authentic Castilian town , just perfect wonderful , the webpage for the area is here http://www.sierranorte.com/ ,and do stay at the Hotel Los Canchos, webpage http://www.hotelloscanchos.com/ , and other than at the hotel ,go out and try Asador Las Murallas, another dandy of the Castilian mountain cuisine, webpage just hit the name, http://www.asadorlasmurallas.com/ . As it is a wonderful tourist enclave, it has its own page Butraigo del Lozoya ,here http://turismo.buitrago.org/

You will have a wonderful open country forest, mountain, lakes, rivers, and plenty more here just as little as 25 minutes outside Madrid. Some photos of the many that is needed ::) Cheers

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