The Sierra Mariola lies to the West of the other mountain areas we visit. It provides a contrast in many ways, with some gentler more rolling landscapes, but also with some impressive ravines and canyons. It is also home to a spectaular colony of vultures that inhabit the Barranc del Sint. The highest peak in the area is Montcabrer which is also the 3rd highest summit in Valencia Province at 1,390 meters high.
Covering these mountain ranges are some 200 or more different aromatic and medicinal plants and also hundreds of different trees, which include a variety of yew unique to this area. A substantial area of this land is in a Natural Park formed in 2002.
The large griffon vulture colony is still growing and is the result of a reintroduction project started in 2000, which has also favoured the presence of other species such as the kite. You may also be lucky enough to see wildcats, pine martens, weasels, gineta, badgers and foxes and of course the wild boar.
WALKING ROUTES IN THE SIERRA MARIOLA
Montcabrer Summit and the Vulture Colony of Barranc Del Sint
This 10 mile (16kms) walk takes you though the amazing rock scenery of a huge barranco (canyon) and then ascends the highest peak in the area. There are some signposts and also painted marks at junctions.
Park at the side of the road on the hairpin just past the old brick factory chimney. It is a short walk into the the Barranco and most days you will see vultures flying high above the cliffs. If the thermals are good you can watch these huge birds practising their take of and landings! The path is good and follows along a conduit up several stepped sections and then past a Finca where you may see donkeys. After a mile (1.6kms) the path eventually splits and our route takes the right fork through some pleasant woods before climbing up to join a rural road which continues to climb up to some larger houses. Look for the path on the right which drops down to regain a track. At this point be sure not to miss a superb renovated well on the left with a bucket and winch system which allows a small trough to be filled with water.
Continue North and look for the path junctions at the side of the track. The next section is more rocky underfoot as if traverses through typical Mariola landscape of small trees, shrubs and herbs. Further on an ingenious irrigation system can be see on the right. Soon you start the long climb up to the summit, but look to the North and you will see some Neveras (Ice Wells) in the distance, these are well worth exploring on another day. The summit has great views with the Sierra Serrella and Aitana obvious to the East. Do be careful as there are very steep cliffs just a few metres from the summit. Now back track a minute or so until you can continue South over another summit before the long descent back to the starting point.
We visit this area on some of our Spanish Guided Walking Holidays