It is situated within the protected area of the Gorbeia Natural Park, on the slope belonging to Bizkaia, at the foot of the emblematic Gorbeia. Composed of a little over a hundred colossal beech trees, some of them of remarkable age, it was exploited for years with care and dedication by the coalman who years ago used the precious beech wood to make charcoal. This industry and its careful methods are partly responsible for the beauty of the landscape offered today by the Otzarreta Beech Forest.
The Otzarreta Beech Forest is one of the most visited places in Bizkaia, not only in autumn when it undoubtedly offers a spectacle of great beauty, but also the rest of the year. And is that to its great value both landscape and natural, comes to add the beauty of the surrounding environment, towns such as Zeanuri, Areatza or Ubide or the charms offered by the Natural Park of Gorbeia, such as the Saldropo Wetland or the always spectacular Massif Itzina, are more than justified reasons to visit this magical forest of Gorbeia. There are almost countless hiking routes, each with its own level of difficulty, which we can undertake and which can take us to visit the Otzarreta Beech Forest, but we also have the possibility of approaching it with our vehicle following the cement track that leads us from the port of Barazar to the parking area next to the beech forest.
The forest is crossed and divided in two by the stream of Zubizabala, being advisable also to leave in two our excursion and to follow, from the same parking lot, first the footpath that leads to one of the slopes of the beech forest and then the continuation of the track by which we arrived until here and that will approach us until the other slope. The reddish mantle that covers the ground, the intensity of the green colour with which the moss paints the roots of the beeches, the surprising shapes that the beeches have adopted over the years and of course the incomparable landscape that surrounds us are some of the values that make Otzarreta Beech Forest a unique natural space.
The beeches that make up the Otzarreta Beech Forest are characterised by the peculiar shape of thick trunks and their high branches grow upwards towards the sky, this type of beech is known as trasmochas beeches. When the tree was about half a century old, the charcoal experts cut its trunk, leaving it at a height of about 3 m, causing its new branches to sprout in the beech tree from that height. Branches that about 15 years later were pruned to produce charcoal, branches that today nobody has pruned again and that have grown to its current imposing height.
There are many legends that are told and heard in these mountains, and it is said that it is not uncommon to come across in the hidden corners of the woods and the countryside of Gorbeia with some small and playful ireltxo who wants to have fun at our expense or with some beautiful lamia with his duck feet and seduction arts tempt us to fall into their trap and trap us for eternity in the depths of their hideout.
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The track that gives access to Otzarreta Beech Forest can be found on the N-240 that connects Vitoria with Bilbao. More specifically, we have to find it right at the top of the Pass of Barazar, on the left if we arrive from Vitoria and on the right if we arrive from Bilbao. It is a conditioned and signposted track that begins next to one of the buildings that crown the port, next to the sign that informs us of its height and name.
This cement track, which we will not leave at any time, takes us in just a couple of kilometers to a fork where we follow the track on our left leaving behind the one that leads to the Saldropo Wetland. Further on, just as we reach the sign indicating the end of the permit for unauthorised vehicles, we will see the Otzarreta Beech Forest car park on the right, where we will leave our vehicle for the excursion.
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El hayedo de Otzarreta es una maravilla, merece la pena visitarlo, además puedes darte un paseo por alguna de las rutas de senderismo que hay por la zona. En otoño el colorido es simplemente espectacular. Desde el mismo hayedo de Otzarreta te puedes acercar a la Cascada de Uguna o Uguzpe que también es muy bonita y no está muy lejos.
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