The solitary Moncayo Mountain Range, the link between the fertile Ebro Valley and the extensive Castilian Plateau, is home to true geological and natural treasures. Emblematic peaks such as Pico San Miguel, the roof of the Iberian System, not only act as a border between regions, but also between climates, and this is reflected in the diversity that can be found from one side of the mountain to the other. Slopes like the one where the Moncayo Natural Park is located, which thanks to its northern orientation, are home to valuable forests like the Beech Forest of Peña Roya.
The route in its 7,8 km allows us not only to cross this colorful beech forest starting from the Fountain of the Sacristan, also shows us the great variety of landscapes that in this mountain we can find. The track that goes up to the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora del Moncayo will leave us at the gates of the road that, going through the leafy beech forest of Peña Roya, will take us to the stony Castile Ravine, the border between Aragon and Castile and Leon. From here our route takes us back to the interior of the park, forcing us to cross the northern hillside of San Miguel Peak, the Moncayo, as the landscape and vegetation change with every step we take, from the oak groves near the valley to the rebollares, passing through the beech forests like the one we have just passed and which a little further up give way to the repopulation pine forests that precede the highest areas of this beautiful mountain.
Pine forests like those that accompany us to the Santa Lucía Meadows, not without first having contemplated the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Moncayo protected by the vertical cliffs that mark it out. These meadows, which contain the remains of a small chapel, are the prelude to the rapid descent that will take us back to our starting point. We will descend following the same path that follows the GR 90, visiting an old snow well or nevera and experiencing again the change that the vegetation around us experiences as we lose height, to arrive without hardly noticing, again to the Fountain of the Sacristan, where we will end this route of hiking in the province of Zaragoza.
Given its extension, there are many possibilities to access the Moncayo Natural Park, Tarazona, Vera de Moncayo or Agreda are some examples. The N-122 between Zaragoza and Soria is where we will find the main accesses to the park. The SO-382 leaves Tarazona towards Santa Cruz del Moncayo and brings us to the limits of the park where we will have to turn aside to go towards the Center of Interpretation of Agramonte. This same highway, but in its other direction, arrives from Ágreda in direction Vozmediano to lead us until the detour towards the center of interpretation. Another option is found in Vera de Moncayo, a town close to the N-122 road, from where the road leaves to take the detour to the park, which also links this town with Alcalá de Moncayo and Añón de Moncayo, from where we can also reach it. Once in the interpretation centre we will begin a long ascent along a forest track, initially asphalted, which goes up to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Moncayo. In the route of this track we will find places specially qualified for the parking, since it is prohibited to park in any other place that is not in them. One of these car parks is the one that corresponds to the recreation area where the Fountain of the Sacristan is located, being here where we will be able to park our vehicle. It does not have many places so it is easy that we have to park either in the previous one or a little higher.
The asphalted track that brought us to the Fountain of the Sacristan (0h 00min), starting point of this trekking route in the Natural Park of the Moncayo, will be in charge of guiding us in this first section of the route.
We ascend following for the moment the layout of our track until we reach one of its horseshoe curves.
Here we will leave her company so that, while she continues on her way to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Moncayo, we can take the path that goes through the Beech Forest of Peña Roya.
This dirt path continues to make us gain height with every step while we enjoy the surroundings.
On rare occasions the thick vegetation gives way to part of its protagonism, allowing us to contemplate the silhouette of Peña Negrilla in front of us. At all times the path is the reference to follow while we cross this dense forest.
Along this part of the route we will not find many crossroads or possible detours, and in any case always the option to follow is the path we are traveling.
After a while, when the slope becomes more evident, a real chaos of stones warns us of our arrival at the Ravine of Castile or Agramonte (0h 55min), which extends to our right.
Once we have contemplated the landscape that this place offers us, we continue our ascent following the path until it suddenly changes its orientation.
As it could not be otherwise our route turns with him to follow his upward course in search of our next goal.
This part of the route is the one that, at least in this sense, saves much of the unevenness. The beech forest gives way to small clearings that allow us to observe the imposing silhouette of the San Miguel Peak, the Moncayo, or the endless width of the Ebro Valley.
A good while later, our path meets again with the track, now dirt, that goes up to the Shrine of the Virgin of Moncayo, reaching its end and also concluding the positive slope that we have to face.
Now it is time to continue the route and start the descent following the route of the wide track that will guide us in this part of the itinerary. In front of us, on the side of the mountain, we can clearly see the sanctuary as we advance along the dirt track.
The beech trees have made way for a thick pine forest that will accompany us for the time being. This section of track takes us to the Santa Lucía Meadows (2h 00min), a clearing in the forest that on our left houses the ruins of an old chapel.
It is here, in the middle of the curve, just where the line of pines seems to end, that we will find the trail we must follow, continuing with the descent that we had started before and saying goodbye to the track that brought us here.
On this trail that ascends to the Sanctuary, we will share the route with the GR 90 as we quickly lose altitude surrounded by enormous pines. The height we are losing forces our trail to draw the typical curves of mountain trails.
The track that leads to the Shrine will get in our way on more than one occasion, forcing us to cross it to follow the course of the trail.
We will even be forced to follow it a few meters at times, in order to find the course of the trail on the other side again.
But it also serves as a reference point, indicating how close the end of this route is when we come across its already paved surface. The rapid descent along the stony trail takes us without any loss to the point from where we started.
The Fountain of the Sacristan (2 20min) is in this case both the starting point and the end point for this trekking route through the Beech Forest of Peña Roya in the Moncayo Natural Park.
If we decide to go up to the sanctuary we will have to add this distance to this figure.
No doubt this figure will be affected by the time we spend enjoying every corner we have to go through.
Of course, autumn with its colourful spectacle is a period of great beauty, without forgetting the different shades of green that we can find as spring progresses, making these two seasons, a priori, the most attractive. But the summer can also offer us some beautiful landscapes in addition to the freshness of the forests that we walk through. Or in winter, when the snow tinges this mountain with white, we can enjoy not only the landscape, but also a beautiful route with snowshoes, provided that our experience and the conditions we find allow it.
Although in the area there are many sources along our route we will only have the Fountain of the Sacristan so it is important that we carry water and of course food in our backpack. When travelling, except in the last kilometer and a half, always on tracks in good condition we can fall into the error of not wearing proper shoes, we must not forget, both for shoes and for clothing to use, that we are on a route in the mountains although this is not, at least on paper, complicated. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.
For a person moderately used to walking and doing the route in the proposed direction, neither the distance nor the unevenness to be overcome should be a problem, since the most demanding ramps will be faced on the way down.
Severity of the environment
The descent section due to its inclination in some areas is where we can give us some slip. Another aspect to take into account is the traffic that we can find on the track that goes up to the sanctuary, denser than desirable at certain times of the year. Watch out for the passage through the scree, it is not usually the usual but we are not exempt from possible falls of stones.
Thanks to the good signs and the lack of crossroads or possible detours we should not have too many problems in this section, it is true that there are several trails or routes that run through the Moncayo Natural Park but in all the crossroads is quite clear what the option is to follow.
|1-Fountain of the Sacristan
|30T 598642 4628360
|30T 596112 4628836
|3-St. Lucia Prairies
|30T 598554 4627566
|4-Fountain of the Sacristan
|30T 598642 4628360
Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84
This sketch of the route is not made to scale nor does it contain all the information relating to the area, it is merely indicative.
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 352-1, 1:25.000"
Senditur has manipulated the tracks to correct the aberrant points that may exist, caused by problems with the reception of the GPS signal. In any case the tracks are always approximate. SENDITUR encourages you to use the new technologies within your reach, using them as support and consultation in your activity, not basing the realization and orientation of the same only and exclusively on them, since they may see their functioning altered by very diverse causes, not functioning correctly and their indications may not be precise.
Una ruta muy chula, merece la pena aprovechar y subir por lo menos hasta el santuario, se llega en un momento siguiendo el GR.
¿Did you know that...
Protected natural areas such as the Moncayo are territories managed by public administrations in order to preserve nature, given the great ecological and landscape value that these places have.
Don't miss out...
The visit to the Agramonte Interpretation Centre that you will find at the beginning of the paved road that leads to the sanctuary. In it, besides information about the Moncayo Natural Park, you will find several explanations that will help you to understand better the natural and cultural values of the area.
From the commitment of SENDITUR with Nature and the respect to the balance of the environment, SENDITUR urges you to travel in a responsible way, with low environmental impact and respecting at all times the Natural, Cultural and Social environment wherever you go.
Besides sharing with all of us your experience on the route we would be grateful if you could write to us to inform us of any erroneous or outdated information you may have found, or simply to let us know what you think at Thank you.
This route has been carried out in the field by SENDITUR on 07-09-2017. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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