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Cave of the Pillars, the hidden face of the Moncayo

 

The Natural Park of the Moncayo besides having the highest mountain of the Iberian System, the Peak of San Miguel or Moncayo, houses great treasures of nature. One of these jewels is located in the region known as the hidden face of the Moncayo and is none other than the spectacular Cave of the Pillars of Purujosa.

Cave of the Pillars

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The route that takes us to this corner is a circular route of 16,4 km that leaves from the town of Purujosa in Zaragoza. As soon as we start the route we are surprised by the radical change in the landscape to which we are accustomed in the Moncayo Natural Park. From the rounded contours of its north and east face, we pass to the abrupt profiles of the south, with imposing rocky formations known here as molars, pierced by spectacular caves and furrowed by deep ravines. The route takes us right into the Cuartún ravine, leaving behind another no less interesting one, the Barranco de la Virgen. The route takes us to the Cuartún Cave, a visit that is almost a must, before saying goodbye to the GR 90 to begin the ascent that will take us to the Cave of the Pillars. After enjoying this colossus we cannot overcome the temptation to head for the top of the Cerro Morrón or Muela del Col, from where we can contemplate incomparable panoramic views of the Moncayo Natural Park.

Valcongosto Ravine

We say goodbye to this mountain and return to Purujosa, but not before immersing ourselves in another great adventure, touring the Valcongosto ravine. Once again, the GR 90 takes us to the detour that leads to this jewel of nature. Not before letting us enjoy the spring of Col. We leave behind the GR 90 to follow the steep path that goes into the Valcongosto ravine, a path that in several occasions submerges in the bed of the stream that runs through it passing through the narrow space that separates the vertical walls of the ravine. A path that leads us to the meeting of the road by which we will return to Purujosa.

More information about the itinerary is available. DO NOT MISS IT...

Cuartún Cave

 

The Trick

 

There are several trails and routes that run through the area and cross each other. This allows us to adapt the route to our characteristics, designing a circular route more or less intense than the one described here. We can for example return directly from the Cave of the Pillars to Purujosa without the need to ascend the Morrón Hill, and do it by the Virgin's Ravine or by Valcongosto, or to cross only the ravines.

 

 

How to get to

 

 

 

To Purujosa we can arrive from Cueva de Ágreda, in Soria, happening through Beratón. Or from Tierga, in Zaragoza, passing through Trasobares and Calcena. Once in Purujosa, in the heat of highway we will find a small zone of parking and raising about meters the street that ascends to the locality we will have another small zone of parkings.

 

Look at the picture of 360º

 

 

Pet area, hiking with my dog

Sendimascota

 

Intense route as much by the distance as by the slope, for that reason it is necessary that our friend is accustomed to mountain routes of certain entity.

There are no water points along much of the route, except at the Col spring and the ravine streams, as long as they have water.

Livestock area, it is not uncommon to find herds. It is also not strange to come across any inhabitant of the area, wild boar, roe deer... Besides, we are in a natural park so we must respect the rules of it.

 

 

​PLACES TO VISIT IN ZARAGOZA

 

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Description of the route to the Cave of the Pillars through the Cuartún ravine and the Valcongosto ravine

 

From Purujosa to the Cave of the Cuartún 2,2 Km

 

The parking lot (0h 00min), next to the road to Purujosa is the starting point for this beautiful trekking route in the Moncayo Natural Park.

We started the route in Purujosa

We start to climb the steep street that goes up to the heart of Purujosa. The High Street serves us as a guide until we reach the crossroads where we will say goodbye to it and pay attention to the GR 90 marks that indicate it to us.

We follow the marks of the GR 90

We snake through the streets of this well cared for town gaining height with every step we take, guided at all times by the characteristic red and white marks of the GR.

We arrived at the viewpoint of Purujosa

This slope leads us to a magnificent viewpoint from where we can already observe the massif that houses the Cave of the Pillars.

We follow the path to the ravine of the Virgin

We say goodbye to Purujosa to follow the path that cuts the side of the mountain in search of the first of the ravines we will cross today.

We say goodbye to the Ravine of the Virgin

Soon we reach the detour that we must follow and that makes us lose the height gained taking us to the bottom of the ravine, saying goodbye to the path that runs through the ravine of the Virgin.

We enter the Cuartun ravine

Once down we prepare to enter the ravine of Cuartún, leaving in front of us the path that if followed would return us to Purujosa passing in front of the pylon of the Virgen de la Leche.

We walk through the Cuartun ravine

This usually dry ravine is the one that follows our GR 90 on its way to the Moncayo Sanctuary.

We diverted to the Cuartun cave

A good while later, when it seems to reach the end of this interesting ravine, to our right, appears the detour that takes us to the nearby Cuartún cave (0h 55min).​

 

From Cuartún Cave to the Cave of the Pillars 3,7 Km

 

After visiting Cuartún Cave, we return to the GR 90 trail to take the final section of the path that runs through the ravine.

We leave on the right the path that follows the GR 90

Quickly the path reaches its end when it meets the path that we must follow, here we will say goodbye to the GR 90 that continues its course to the Sanctuary of Moncayo.

We begin the climb

With the silhouette of the rocky outcrop that houses the Cave of the Pillars watching us, we begin the climb that will take us to it.

We continue to ascend

Our path is joined by another one, so that together we can climb the final stretch that separates us from the hill we are about to reach.

We leave the path that leads to the Ravine of the Virgin

Once in the hill we will leave the path that follows the PR Z77, the one that returns to Purujosa by the ravine of the Virgin, to continue ascending towards our objective.

The slope is considerable

This part of the route accumulates a lot of slope, forcing us to take it easy, enjoying the landscape around us.

We arrived at the Cerro Gordo Refuge

After a while, in front of us you can already see the refuge that marks the end of this part of the ascent.

A section to recover energy

Once again the marks of the many trails and mountain bike routes that run through this part of the Moncayo Natural Park inform us of the course to follow, although the rocky mass towards which we are heading leaves no room for doubt.

The landscape is spectacular

The path we are following allows us to calmly contemplate the mountain and the different caves in it.

We continue to ascend

Once again its slender silhouette serves as a reference to follow in case of doubt at the few crossroads that we find.

We leave the path to face the final ascent to the cave of the Pillars

As it happened to us before, our path leads us to a wide hill, but in this case, just before reaching it, we will have to radically change course and abandon the path to face the final stretch of the ascent to the Cave of the Pillars.

There is no definite layout

This part of the route does not have a clearly trodden path, so we will have to face it taking as a reference the big rocks of the hillside and the small ravine on our left.

We are still looking for the most comfortable route

A ravine that we must not cross, but from which we will not have to separate much if we want to ascend more comfortably.

We ascend the final stretch to the cave of the Pillars

This ravine leads us to what looks like a new hill, although in reality it is the Alto del Riberón, from where we will face the final stretch of the ascent.

This part of the route is also complicated to follow

This part even more than the previous one is a real chaos with no path to guide us, so we will have to look for the most affordable layout for us.

We arrived at the Cave of the Pillars

Luckily we have as a reference the enormous entrance to the Cave of the Pillars (2h 30min), which we reached not without effort.

 

From the Cave of the Pillars to Morrón Hill 1,8 Km

 

Once we have enjoyed this colossal cave, we get ready to continue with the route. To do so, we leave the cave through the arch that gives continuity to the rocky outcrop that houses it.

We leave the Cave of the Pillars

We descend a few meters close to the wall of the mountain to find, now yes, with a path that will be responsible for guiding us to the portlight where we jump to the opposite side.

We go through the limits of the rocky farallon

This path borders the vertical cliffs, without making us lose too much height, to enter a pine forest.

We ascend in search of the gate

After a while, a solitary stone landmark marks the moment to say goodbye to the path and head for the porthole we are looking for.

We leave the forest

At the moment we can see ourselves climbing a cobbled hillside of the mountain with quite a steepness. This gate allows us to jump to the opposite slope, leaving behind the forest and the vertical walls that had accompanied us until then.

We have already passed to the other side of the mountain

Once upstairs we radically changed our orientation, as if we wanted to retrace our steps, but now on the walls that we before bordered.

We head towards the ravine

From the first moment we are separated with each step from the vertical walls, approaching a new ravine that will serve to continue gaining height.

The path begins to disappear

We follow the line that marks this ravine, ascending not without effort. Shortly before reaching its highest point, after leaving a large rounded rock on our left and the path that passes next to it, we say goodbye to the ravine to face the chaos of stones that separates us from the summit towards which we are heading.

We are almost at the top of the ravine

Without any reference or path to guide us we go through this chaos of stones, which in some areas reminds us of the great karts of the Pyrenees.

There is no path to guide us

After a while, the summit we are striving to conquer appears in front of us. Cerro Morrón (3h 20min), or Tooth of the Col as it is also known, welcomes us, offering us a wonderful spectacle of landscapes that compensate the effort made.

 

From Cerro Morrón to the deviation of the Valcongosto ravine 4,8 Km

 

We leave behind the landmark that marks the top of Cerro Morrón and start the descent that will take us back to meet the GR 90.

We start the descent

Following the opposite edge of the mountain to which we climb, and with the proper distance of caution, we descend once again without a path or mark that serves as a reference.

Still no path

We quickly lose altitude with our eyes on The Herrera rocks and the path towards which we are heading.

We locate the descent to the path

Some lonely stone landmarks mark the place where we will leave the ridge we are descending.

We descend to the riverbed of the ravine to go to the path.

Here we undertake a rapid and zigzagging descent into the dry riverbed of another ravine. A ravine that will serve us to cover the distance that separates us from the path that awaits us further on.

We join the GR 90 towards Purujosa

Road where we will rejoin the GR 90 but this time in the direction of Purujosa. From now on we will have the invaluable help of the GR marks and signs.

We follow rumbo to Purujosa

A GR 90 that sometimes leaves the perfect path through which it runs to save one, usually a small curve of the many that it draws.

The path and the GR 90 come together again

Although these small shortcuts hardly last long and quickly the GR returns to the course of the path to continue descending.

We continue to descend

A path that, depending on how tired we are, can allow us to advance more quickly and comfortably than many of the shortcuts taken by the GR 90.

We arrived at the spring of the Col

A good while later an authentic oasis arises before us, the spring of the Col, a good place to take a well-deserved rest.

We continue with the descent

After the stop we resume the course of the path accompanied by the red and white marks of the GR. There will not be many crossroads through which we pass and the marks and the downward slope that we follow are responsible for leaving no doubt about the path to follow.

We follow the brands of the GR

The vegetation rarely hides these marks and when it does, again the downward slope that guides us is responsible for removing us from doubt.

We say goodbye to the GR 90

Vegetation that takes over our path marking the detour that leads to the Valcongosto ravine, which we take, saying goodbye to the GR 90 that continues in search of the nearby Cuartún ravine.

 

From the detour of the Valcongosto ravine to Purujosa 3,9 Km

 

Quickly the path meets a small creek and as soon as you cross it it becomes a footpath.

We head towards the Valcongosto ravine

This path makes us lose height, jumping from terrace to terrace, formed by the land. There will be several dry riverbeds that we will cross while we advance in search of our next objective.

This section has some more complicated areas

Little by little, and after overcoming some fairly steep, albeit short, sections, we approached the still wide riverbed of the Valcongosto ravine.

We arrived at the entrance of the Valcongosto ravine

A ravine whose beginning is marked by a few stone landmarks that tell us that we are, now, entering Valcongosto.

We start to cross the creek

The sound of the stream running through the ravine becomes more audible with every step, until the moment comes when you have to cross it. A stream that we will have to cross many times, so many that we will surely lose count.

The Valcongosto ravine is a marvel

The vertical walls that surround it are closing with every step we take through the ravine. To the point that they force us to get into the middle of the creek in order to keep going.

Sometimes we walk on the stream itself

The narrowness of some areas and the flow that the stream can bring can condition the difficulty of this part of the route. The path appears and disappears to the sound of the stream and the walls of the ravine we are walking through.

Little by little we are leaving the ravine of Valcongosto

Almost without realizing it, the vertical walls, which seemed to be closing in on us, are separating themselves meter by meter. The stream also moves away from us and our path, warning us of the near end of the Valcongosto ravine.

We go out to the road of Purujosa

The road, which we must follow, is responsible for confirming the end of this beautiful stretch of the route. The road that will be in charge of leading us to Purujosa, although on this occasion we will not have to climb up to the town.

We follow the road to the parking of Purujosa

After a longer stretch of road than we would have liked, the parking (5h 55min) awaits us, the point and end of our hiking route.

 

This route has been carried out on the ground by SENDITUR on 16-10-2020. The route can vary a lot depending on the time of year, the weather conditions and the terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered by the natural environment where it is located. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or inadequate use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications, nor for the variations for the above-mentioned reasons that could exist in their descriptions and recommends that each person be responsible and prudent in the realization of the activity. Likewise, we invite you to get information from books and specialized guides to complement the information described. All times are approximate and are for guidance only. Stops, however small, have not been taken into account. All the information related to the route, texts, images, videos, maps, diagrams, tracks, towns and places of tourist interest are published as a guide and may not coincide with the current state of each place. Before carrying out any activity, value your technical knowledge, your physical form, inform yourself about the meteorology and the variations that the route could have suffered, equip correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, not surpassing your capacities.

Technical data sheet of the route

 

SendiSenderista

Total distance. 16,4 Km

 

Total time. 5h 55min.

This figure can be considerably increased depending on the time we spend in each place we visit and the state of the ravines we go through.

 

Time of year. Attention to the flow of the ravines

Autumn and spring will surely be good months to visit these places. In summer we almost make sure that the flow of the streams is not a problem, as long as it does not discharge a good storm. The winter brings a special touch to almost any tour, but condition the hours of light available among other things.

 

Required equipment. Spare socks

Surely we can not avoid putting the boot and half a leg in the stream that crosses the ravine of Valcongosto, so it is not a bad idea to carry a spare pair of socks.The canes, in such long routes and with the slope that this has, are always helpful, besides they will balance us in the sections by the streams.  There is only one fountain along the whole route, carrying enough water and food is vital. As it is already imposed on similar routes through ravines like the ones we will pass here, the helmet is not a bad idea either, especially for Valcongosto. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more

 

Slope acumulate. 1936 m   Slope positive. 968 m   Slope negative. 968 m

 

Maximum altitude. 1731 m   Minimum altitude. 923 m

 

Difficulty. Moderate

 

Physical

The distance, added to the slope that we must overcome, forces us to be in good physical condition to face this route with certain guarantees. We must be aware that we can reach the final stretch through the ravine and not be able to pass, being forced to retreat and return to Purujosa by another route, with the over-exertion that this implies. The great advantage we have is that thanks to the different routes that run through the area we can adapt an itinerary adapted to our capabilities.

 

Severity of the environment

Before venturing into any of the ravines in the area, it is important to be informed of their condition. Stone falls are very probable, both in the ravines and in the area of the caves and the path next to the cliff. Another factor to take into account is the weather, since the flow of the streams can vary suddenly due to storms and rain that can occur at the headwaters. Be careful with the rocky sections of the ravines and the ascent to Cerro Morrón. It is easy to take a bad step and twist an ankle or have a fall. The paths and some trails are quite frequented by mountain bikers so it will not be uncommon to find cyclists at high speed along certain sections of the route.

 

Orientation

In a large part of the route we will have good signaling, so we should not have big problems. However, it is the numerous possible routes that can make us doubt that we have not prepared our itinerary well. The final stretch of the ascent to the Cave of the Pillars and the ascent to Morrón Hill with its subsequent descent to the path where the GR runs, do not have any signposting. Besides, we will not have a clear path to follow in almost all that area, so taking a GPS with the track will be helpful to follow the right itinerary.

 

Important places to pass through

Nombre lugar de paso Tiempo hasta el Altitud Distancia Coordenadas UTM
1-Purujosa 0h 00min 923 m 0 Km 30T 602425 4615197
2-Cuartún Cave 0h 55min 1043 m 2,2 Km 30T 603270 4616403
3-Cerro Gordo shelter 1h 35min 1294 m 3,9 Km 30T 602752 4617820
4-Cave of the Pillars 2h 30min 1565 m 5,9 Km 30T 602832 4619325
5-Cerro Morrón 3h 20min 1731 m 7,7 Km 30T 603409 4620134
6-Spring of the Col 4h 00min 1300 m 10,5 Km 30T 604007 4619001
7-Purujosa 5h 55min 923 m 16,4 Km 30T 602425 4615197

Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84

 

Profile of the route

Profile of the route to the Cave of the Pillars

 

Cartography, maps and tracks

Map of the route to the Cave of the Pillars

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.

Topographic map of the route to the Cave of the Pillars

ico ign

 

This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional  "Cuadrante 352-3 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.

 

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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. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse and/or operation of its electronic guides and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in its descriptions are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions that SENDITUR encountered on the specific day of the performance of the tour, referring to that specific day and always taking as reference trained and experienced people, with a high level of both physical and technical preparation, as well as correctly equipped, therefore all opinions, assessments and/or advice are for guidance only. 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.

FILE AND TRACKS
Cave of the Pillars
Moncayo Natural Park
Ravine of the Virgin in Purujosa
The Herrera rocks
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¿Did you know that...

 

Purujosa, in addition to being a town of careful character and traditional architecture, is also the smallest town in España to have a traffic light that regulates traffic on its main street.

 

Don't miss out...

 

The hermitage of the Virgin of Constantine or of the Cave, where a 13th century carving is kept. Its location is also spectacular, almost suspended from the rock, with the ravine that borders the town at its feet.

 

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We would be grateful if you could write to us to inform us of any erroneous, out-of-date information or errors in the translation you have found, or simply to send us your opinion at Thank you very much.

 

ico punto ECOLOGICAL COMMITMENT

 

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