As the autumn season approaches, forests and parks adopt an enchanting aura, seemingly torn straight out of a storybook. There might be days when rains and winds establish a rather unsympathetic climate; however, when the weather grants us respite, there is a plan you simply cannot miss. The Community of Madrid boasts a plethora of spectacular forests that you can explore during this time of the year.
These landscapes, impressive as they are, also provide ample opportunities for outdoor sports. Therefore, embarking on a hiking trail with friends and family could serve as a delightful idea for the weekend. If you wish to breathe fresh air, connect with nature, and relish one of the region’s most beautiful forests, this is your plan.
A Glimpse into History: The Charm of El Escorial
Imagine a 18th-century tourist visiting the quaint houses of El Escorial and the forest of La Herrería. The British Joseph Townsend included in his route of the Grand Tour a stop in the Madrid of Carlos III and visited El Escorial and its famous “Casitas”. The British traveler’s account evokes a sense of wonder and appreciation for the historical treasures hidden amidst Madrid’s vast landscape.
Situated in Madrid, one of the most charming forests during this season is the Forest of La Herrería. To start your visit to this place, head to the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Nestled next to the Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, this corner of the world spans 497 hectares and primarily harbors oaks and ashes, along with Montpellier maples, junipers, cherry trees, willows, and some chestnut trees in its higher areas.
This entire forest was declared a Picturesque Landscape in 1961 and is part of the Natura 2000 network as a Place of Community Interest and Special Protection Area for Birds.
A Trail for All: The Hiking Route
For the sporty souls, the hiking trail begins from the ‘Forest of La Herrería’ parking lot, leading towards the Hermitage of the Virgin of Grace. Following the GR-10 trail, it will ascend to the Silla de Felipe II, the very place where the king watched the progress of the construction work of the Monastery of El Escorial, which he had commissioned.
This hike, suitable for all ages, is a circular trail featuring a simple level of difficulty and a distance of 4.5 kilometers back and forth. Therefore, in approximately two hours, you can complete this trail. Apart from exercising, you can admire the Forest of La Herrería, the Hermitage of the Virgin of Grace, and upon reaching the monarch’s chair, one of the best panoramic views of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.
For the Adventurous Spirits: The Monte Abantos Hike
For those seeking a bit more of a thrill, there is another hiking trail in San Lorenzo de El Escorial, slightly more demanding but equally breathtaking. With an expert guide, it is possible to hike to the summit of Monte Abantos. From the top, you can behold excellent panoramic views of the monastery, the Valley of the Fallen, and the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.
Embarking on these journeys through Madrid’s hidden landscapes serves as an excellent way to connect to nature, history, and the rich cultural heritage of the region. So, tie your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Madrid’s spectacular forests.