The La Demanda mountain range is home to mountains of over 2000m in altitude, valleys and forests of great beauty that treasure spectacular corners. In the Burgos part of La Demanda, the roof of the province of Burgos awaits us, the San Millán Peak. Climbing this mountain, with its deceptively rounded silhouette and marked character, is a real challenge in winter when snow and ice are the main features, and a pleasure for the senses the rest of the year, when water and colourful forests take over the landscape. There are several routes that take us to its summit, although perhaps one of the most authentic and challenging is the ascent to San Millán Peak from Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión, which takes us along the course of the Urbión River to the steep north face of the mountain.
Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión can be reached either from Belorado, passing through Pradoluengo, or from Ibeas de Juarros, passing through Villasur de Herreros, among other towns. From the vicinity of Barbadillo de Herreros we can also get there via the Arlanzón and Úzquiza reservoirs. Although the ascent route to San Millán itself begins in the recreational area of Zarcia, where there is a parking area, which can be reached by following a track that starts from the same road that leads to Santa Cruz del Valle Urbión, where the detour awaits us in the middle of the village.
We leave behind the Zarcia refuge and its large car park to continue up the path we arrived on. A path that takes us across the Urbión river to quickly come to a first crossroads. Here we leave on our right the path that according to the signs leads to San Millán or El Terruco through the Alto de Garrula, where we will return, to continue parallel to the river bed, going up the valley. Almost before we know it, we find ourselves crossing the Abanza stream and quickly leave on our right the detour that leads to the Altuzarra waterfalls, another alternative that allows us to vary the route's itinerary. We continue up the valley to reach the vicinity of the Choza de las Guarras. The river and the terrain begin to complicate our progress, forcing us to look for the best route to follow, depending on the river flow. After overcoming this entertaining area and fording the river, we now find ourselves ascending the opposite side of the river. This area, although somewhat more demanding in its gradient, is much easier to follow than the previous one.
We say goodbye to the forest once we have forded the river again, to head towards the cobbled final stretch of the ascent. The path we are following takes us over the different rocky steps that separate us from the beautiful glacial cirque of San Millán Peak towards which we are heading. In front of us we can already see the imposing presence of the north face of San Millán. We climb with each step we take until the moment comes when we are forced to decide our final route to the summit. As we shall see, there are several paths that we can follow. One of them continues without much consideration towards the pass that we can see to the left of San Millán, the Portillo. Once there, the path takes us diagonally across the north face of the mountain to head towards the right shoulder. From there we only have to go up the gentle slope that separates us from the summit. Another option takes us to the lagoon of San Millán and from there we climb the cobbled slope that separates us from the right shoulder of the mountain. Once there we continue ascending joining those who chose the other option to together reach the summit of San Millán Peak (3h 35min), where we enjoy the magnificent views that this mountain has to offer.
Once we have caught our breath and regained our strength, we start the return journey that will take us to the Zarcia recreational area. Of course we can do it by the same route we came in. In our case we are going to follow a circular route following the route that reaches Sierra Llana and the Alto de Garrula. To do so, we start the descent along the shoulder we came in on, leaving aside the paths we climbed up. This route takes us in the direction of the Trigaza peak, but when we reach a small pass we come across the appropriately signposted detour that we must follow, leaving the Trigaza to one side.
Here we can return via the waterfalls to get to know them. Although this variant is much more advisable to do it in the opposite direction, i.e. uphill, as the terrain is quite steep, slippery and has some steep sections, which are not recommended, especially if it has rained. We leave this detour behind us and follow the more than comfortable path that descends into the leafy forest. Almost without noticing, we reach the Abanza stream, whose course we follow until we reach the path that awaits us a little further down. This path takes us to the crossroads that we rejected at the beginning of the route and from here we only have to walk the short distance to the refuge of Zarcia (5h 25min), where we put an end to this beautiful route.
|30T 482776 4680943
|2-San Millán Peak
|30T 482979 4675544
Coordinates UTM Datúm WGS84
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 239-2, 239-4, 240-1 y 240-3 1:25.000".
Find out what to see in...
¿Did you know that...
There is a wide network of footpaths in the area that allow us to design an itinerary to our liking and thus take advantage of the opportunity to visit different places in the area.
Don't miss out...
The Altuzarra Waterfalls, the Small Waterfall, the Middle Waterfall or the Double Waterfall, together with the surrounding environment, are a must-see, although they are well worth an exclusive excursion to get to know them at your own pace.
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.
Route information updated on 21-06-2021. 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.
Continue watching …