I love nature in all its forms, and I always find myself looking for those places which take your breath away that are truly gems of the Earth. Spain has a lot of really high mountain ranges that allow you to enjoy nature and some of the most beautiful landscapes. One of my favorites- due to easy access, and its excellent location- is the Circo de Gredos.
The Circo de Gredos is a glacial cirque in the central part of the north slope of the Sierra de Gredos (the main range in the Sistema Central Mountains in central Spain). It is one of the most important areas in the Parque Regional de la Sierra de Gredos, and it is just located two hours away from Madrid, and one hour from the city of Avila. I guarantee you that this place is 100% worth visiting if you are a nature lover!
The Circo de Gredos is also the most significant glacial cirque of the Sierra de Gredos and the entire Sistema Central. At the eastern edge of the cirque is the summit Pico Almanzor, the highest of the range at 2,592 meters. At the northeast edge, the bottom of the cirque, you can find the Laguna Grande de Gredos at the height of 1,940 meters. Next to this lake is the mountain refuge Elola, mostly frequented by mountaineers who climb the incredible Pico Almanzor. The cirque is in the basin of the river Tormes, a tributary of the River Duero. The area around the Tormes River is full of peaceful and beautiful small towns, where you can find plenty of options for accommodation. These villages are full of charm, and there are tons of rural houses where you can have one of the best experiences.
There is a quite well-known route which I did a few days ago that leads to the cirque which is quite busy with visitors and mountaineers, particularly in the summer. This path starts from a parking area that is known as the Plataforma de Gredos at 1,770 meters, located in Hoyos del Espino town. You can leave your car here and get ready for the awesome route. The well-defined route climbs South-West from here, and then across a grassy boggy moor to arrive at the Barrerones (2,210 meters). From here, the path descends south until reaching the Laguna Grande (or great lake) de Gredos, and the refuge Elola.
I liked everything about this route. It is pretty doable even for people who are not used to hiking in the mountains and definitely for kids (although the way back down was easier than the way there). It is almost impossible to get lost since there are plenty of signs along the way that give you indications to get to Circo de Gredos and the Great Lake.
We were fortunate because even in winter, we had a very lovely sunny day with relatively warm temperatures and plenty of snow on the way. It took us 2 hours and a few minutes to get to the viewpoint of Circo de Gredos, where you can get the best sights to the Pico Almanzor and the Great Lake that is always frozen in winter. You will also find plenty of mountain goats on the way and different natural fountains where you can stop and drink fresh water. There are almost 6 km up to the viewpoint and 6km to walk on the way down too - the route usually takes people 5-6 hours, depending on everyone's pace.
In sum, this is what I genuinely consider a breathtaking hike full of beauty. Located in Sierra de Gredos, very close to Madrid and Avila, this is a place that I highly recommend to anyone who wants to spend some time in nature and enjoy the heights and the snow.
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