Back to top

The mountains of Leyre are an essential place in the history of Navarre

The mountains of Leyre, which for years has been an obligatory passage for transhumants, a silent observer of pilgrims from Somport and a witness to part of the important history of Navarre, keeps between its rocks and forests not a few hiking routes as well as beautiful corners and historical places. Being Yesa and more specifically the Monastery of San Salvador de Leyre one of them. From its very doors the Path of the Fountain of San Virila leaves a precious route that takes us into the wooded and abrupt mountain range with which it shares its name.

Path of the Fountain of San Virila


The trail with 2 Km is a short route that will transport us to past times following the steps of the famous abbot Virila from the Monastery of Leyre 0 Km. The great importance of this monastery has been reflected in its architectural and cultural ensemble. The route allows us to enjoy another perspective of the monastery and its surroundings. The impressive Yesa reservoir extends to our feet as if it were an extension of the monastery, rivaling both with the imposing silhouette of the Sierra de Leyre crossed by ancestral routes such as the Cañada Real de los Roncaleses that crossed it in search of more benevolent climates for their flocks in the winter months. This mountain range, through which the route runs in its entirety, shows us not only its important landscape value but also its natural value. When we walk along the path calmly and surely we will be able to hear the songs that numbed the abbot or the hammering of the birds in the trunks in search of their food.

The forest almost covers it all.

The characteristic vegetation of this side of the mountains, holm oaks and kermes oaks, gives us few clear areas from which to appreciate even more if possible the magnificent place chosen by the founders of the monastery there in the ninth century. With luck we will not finish the route without being able to contemplate the compassionate flight of the bearded vulture, master and lord of these skies. The hidden corner that keeps the Fountain of San Virila 1 Km in the interior of the forest surprises us suddenly, almost without warning, inviting us to rest in some of the stones in which surely our abbot fell asleep. The fountain, marked out by the figures of the saint and the nightingale who put him to sleep, marks the point of return that will take us back to the Monastery of Leyre 2 Km with the uncertainty of knowing if 350 years have passed since our departure.

Fountain of San Virila


The Legend

Legend has it that Virila, the abbot of the Monastery of Leyre, encouraged himself to take a pleasant walk around the surroundings, following the melodious song of one of the birds that populate these mountains, he reached a beautiful corner where he sat down to continue delighting himself with his chirping. The abbot, wrapped in the sweetness of the song of this bird and in the peace that the place gave off, fell asleep. When he awoke, he returned to the monastery to see, not without astonishment, that it had expanded its dependencies and seemed to have changed tremendously. Upon entering it and not recognizing any of the monks who lived in the monastery, just as they did not recognize him, I explain to them who he was, the incredulous monks with their history decided to check the ancient writings kept in the monastery discovering perplexed that indeed it was the old abbot of the monastery, who had disappeared for 350 years deciding to rename him abbot, a position he held until the end of his days.

How to get to Leyre mountains

The town of Yesa is in the middle of the old N-240 that joins Pamplona and Jaca. Today the A-21 motorway is in charge of taking us to Yesa from one of these two towns, being in this motorway where we will find the access to the town. We can also get to Yesa by following the NA-5410 which connects it with the nearby Castillo de Javier and Sangüesa. Once there, the road that leads to the Monastery of Leyre is on the same access road to the dual carriageway, from this point the road that without further detours ascends to the monastery where we will have several areas fitted out as car parks.

Pet area, hiking with my dog

Simple walk for our friend in which he should not have big problems and that to good sure he enjoyed. Attention in the area of the monastery, it usually has enough affluence of people and of cars, it is not very advisable either, especially if it is not accustomed to the mountain, to leave it to its wide since it is easy that it gets lost.

The water does not have to be a problem, we are not talking about a great distance and in addition the normal thing is that the Fountain of San Virila contributes to us all the water that can need.

To the animals that inhabit the area and that normally we will not have the luck to see easily, we must add the other pets that surely we will have to find, is the affluence of people to the monastery what more must influence us so that we pay the sufficient attention.


Description of the Path of the Fountain of San Virila

The Path of the Fountain of San Virila starts next to the main car park of the Monastery of Leyre (0h 00min).​

Beginning of the Path of the Fountain of San Virila

From here starts the steep road marked at the beginning by signs with various information about the area next to the one that marks the beginning of the route, and that quickly makes us leave the monastery behind. This path, which is partly used by many of the area's hiking trails, allows us to gain height quickly while observing the elongated figure of the Yesa reservoir.

We follow the way to the left


Almost without time to enjoy this panoramic view we find the crossroads where we must turn off leaving this track that leads to the mountains.

A good place to enjoy the scenery

Our new way brings us closer to a privileged viewpoint where a wide view of the valley that extends to the feet of the monastery is dominated. The route continues its gradual ascent leaving behind us this balcony and facing again towards the imposing mountains of Leyre.

The clear signal leaves no room for doubt

The way leads us to a new crossroads where we will abandon it to begin to cross the route that draws the trail that will take us to the fountain.

The trail goes through the interior of the forest

For now, we are advancing along a wide trail without major complications that continues to make us gain height with ease.

There aren't many marks that point the way.

The markings on the route are reduced to an old sign, such as that on the roads, which indicates that we are on the right course. Soon we find more decomposed stretches of trail where it struggles to make its way through the vegetation that surrounds us.

We're still on the right.

The trail suddenly meets a fork where we must clearly continue on the right, otherwise we would not have continued.

The trail has areas where it is steeper, although without great difficulty.


The large masses of stones that we find force the path to look for the best place to save them while giving us the impression that the route has reached its final point.

Follow the entertaining route

These large stones undoubtedly have their origin in the vertical walls that rise to our right forming the unmistakable silhouette of the mountains of Leyre.

The route is not very difficult

The route continues with its staggered ascent, alternating comfortable stretches with others that ask for a little effort to overcome the pitfalls that put us on the road.

We're still climbing steeply.

Sometimes the thick vegetation, other times the imposing rocks and other times both together make the route more entertaining than you would expect.

Attention to roots and stones if they are wet

The small clearings allow us to look out over the valley and contemplate the magnificent landscape that surrounds us.

We continue walking through the lush forest

The slope during the route is almost concentrated in the abrupt steps that we have to face while in the more open areas the ascent is almost not appreciated.

The cobblestone steps make the tour even more entertaining

Under normal conditions it could be said that at no time do we encounter sections that make it really difficult for us to progress, although this perception will surely vary with each person who faces them.

For some people, some sections of the route may not be so easy.

Almost without realizing it, we have been bridging the distance that separated us from the fountain, surrounded by the vegetation that barely lets in the sun's rays.

The great stones continue to stand in our way

The Fountain of San Virila (0h 25min) receives us in its singular spot marking us the point of return of the route and the theoretical place where the legend attributed to this saint was given.

Once in the fountain we return by the same route we arrived by.

From here we just have to return on our steps taking care not to miss the right course and that will return us to the Monastery of Leyre (0h 40min) where the route ends.

Technical data sheet of the route by Path of the Fountain of San Virila

ico-distancia-totalDistance. 2 Km

This figure corresponds only to the route and is indicative.

ico-tiempo-totalTime. 0:40h

It is the time that we dedicate to enjoy each corner and the calm with which we take the route what can most alter this figure, being advisable to give us a certain margin especially if our physical condition is not the ideal one, this way we will have enough time to carry out the route.

ico-calendarioTime of year

The route, except on days when snow or ice cover this area, is perfectly accessible, allowing us to enjoy the lush forest that surrounds it. On clear days, in the clearings through which the path passes, we will be able to contemplate magnificent panoramic views of the monastery and the reservoir.

ico-materialRequired equipment

The path does not have great difficulties but appropriate footwear for this type of terrain will provide greater stability and safety. For the rest and except adverse conditions it is not possible to emphasize many more details than the habitual ones, to adapt our clothes to the conditions of the time of the year in which we realize the route, to take us the camera of photos to be able to capture the beautiful views that sometimes the footpath offers us. For people less accustomed to somewhat steep trails can come well to take some canes to help them balance during the tour. Consult our list of material and equipment for hiking. Read more.


ico-dificultadDifficulty. Low


The route, due to its distance, allows us to face it with sufficient calm so that neither the difference in level that we must overcome nor the small difficulties that we are going to encounter should make us lose our breath. For someone who is accustomed to hiking routes, this is a pleasant walk that leaves us wanting more, but watch out the less accustomed people is better to take the slope and reefs that we will find without haste, so they can enjoy even more of the environment that surrounds them.

Severity of the environment

Much of the route follows a mountain trail without great complications in which, yes, we find some short stretch where the trees and large rocks leave us a somewhat rough terrain but that in normal conditions and prudent logic only represent a fun challenge for the less mountaineers. It goes without saying that we pass through a mountain terrain and although the trail does not look for exposed or steep areas if we leave it we may find greater difficulties. Pay attention to the roots of the trees, especially if they are humid and to the mud if it had rained because they can play a trick on us.


With the crosses marked with large signs the path is relatively easy to follow although once past these crosses the lack of marks on the route can make us doubt the good course followed. The most abrupt sections will be where we can have more doubts because the feeling that the trail does not have continuity beyond that point are added to the different routes that have been formed in some of them and can lead us to more complicated steps than we normally have in front of us. On our return is when we can most often cross with what seems like small trails that give continuity to ours, nothing further from reality, in many cases only take us to an area without exit from which we will have to return to take the right path.

Important places to pass through
1-Monastery of Leyre 0:00h 769m 0Km 30T 649952 4722018
2-Fountain of San Virila 0:25h 879m 1Km 30T 649384 4722420
3-Monastery of Leyre 0:40h 769m 2Km 30T 649952 4722018

Coordinates UTM Datum WGS84

Profile of the route

Profile of the route Path of the Fountain of San Virila

ico-desnivel-acumuladoSlope: 258m

ico-desnivel-positivoSlope +: 129m

ico-desnivel-negativoSlope -: 129m

ico-altitud-maximaMaximum altitude: 879m

ico-altitud-minimaMinimum altitude: 769m

Cartography, maps and tracks

San Virila Fountain Path Map

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 with the route Path of the Fountain of San Virila


This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 175-1 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.

Mountain of Leyre
One of the great rocks of the path
Panoramic view of the Monastery of Leyre
St. Virila
Yesa Reservoir
Share your experience

Maximum size 2MB

*.gpx, *.kmz, *.kml, *.plt

Listado de experiencias
Created the 07-01-2016

Un bonito paseo entre la zona boscosa de una ladera que te acerca a un lugar mágico y de leyenda. Me lo pase formidable y disfrute mucho con el paisaje y las vistas tan espectaculares

Monastery of San Salvador de Leyre
Yesa, Navarra
Monastery of San Salvador de Leyre
Castle of Javier
Javier, Navarra
Castle of Javier

Pilgrimage destination in honour of the patron saint of Navarre, Saint Francis Xavier

Fortress Church of Santa María de Ujué
Ujué, Navarra
Fortress Church of Santa María de Ujué

Jewel of Ujué, ordered to be constructed by kings

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Muskilda
Ochagavía-Otsagabia, Navarra
Sanctuary of Our Lady of Muskilda
The Irati Forest
Ochagavía-Otsagabia, Navarra
The Irati Forest
Castle Royal Palace of Olite
Olite-Erriberri, Navarra
Castle Royal Palace of Olite

First of the seven medieval wonders of Spain

Royal Eugi Ammunition Factory
Eugui/Eugi, Navarra
Royal Eugi Ammunition Factory

A milestone in the economic history of Navarre and Spain in the 18th century

See accommodation in Sangüesa
Sangüesa-Zangoza, Navarra
See accommodation in Sangüesa

Sangüesa-Zangoza, Navarra

See things to do in Sangüesa
Sangüesa-Zangoza, Navarra
See things to do in Sangüesa

Sangüesa-Zangoza, Navarra


Find out what to see in...


¿Did you know that...

Virila truly existed, it is known that he was abbot of the Monastery of Leyre back in the tenth century, his relics still being found in it. This sanctified cleric was born in Tiermas, in the province of Zaragoza, and ignoring his famous history, he lived around 80 years of age.

Don't miss out...

A visit to the Monastery of Leyre is one of the most important at national level, whose origins date back to the 9th century and which adds to its important history a rich architectural and cultural heritage such as the Porta Speciosa, the Pantheon of the Kings of Navarre or the well-known and unique Crypt.


Go to Trekking routes with children in Navarre, hiking with the family

Go to 32 Original gifts for hikers and mountaineers

Sponsored Content

These references are offered for information purposes only, trying to provide useful information to users, in no case do they imply that Senditur recommends or discourages a particular service or product, take a look at our Legal Conditions. Sponsored Content, by making any reservation or purchase through these links you contribute to the maintenance and improvement of this website, in no case will you be charged a surcharge on the transaction you make. Thank you very much for your contribution.


Take care of Nature Don't throw garbage

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 15-05-2016. 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.

All the times are approximate and take an orientative character, the stops have not been taken into account, no matter how small they are. 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 undertaking any activity, assess your technical knowledge, your physical condition, find out about the weather and the variations that the route may undergo, equip yourself correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, and do not exceed your capabilities. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or inappropriate use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications as well as its electronic guides, nor for any variations in their descriptions for the aforementioned reasons, and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. We also encourage you to read books and specialised guides to complement the information described above.

Continue watching …

Copyright © 2023 SENDITUR