Hiking in Catalunya

We took the plunge and recently booked a trek up Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. We’ll be covering 100kms of distance and close to 4000m of elevation gain in 8 days, so we figured it was high time to start getting out in the hills around Barcelona to train.

We started slowly by first exploring the nearby Parc de Collserola (photos here), an oasis of green space on the western edge of the city.  It takes a mere 30 minutes to arrive on public transport (FGC) and you immediately feel that you’ve left the city behind. We have only discovered a very small portion of it close to the visitor center as we don’t have a full map of the park but the trail system seems to be quite expansive.  If you ever make it to Barcelona and want a day away from the slow-moving, map-holding, hordes of tourists, it’s worth a visit. There are some nice views of the city (and Sant Cugat from the back) and small sections of ruins scattered throughout.

In the past month we’ve started moving further afield but still close to the city.  Not  having a car has definitely influenced the routes we choose to hike but has surprisingly not been a big deterrent to getting out.  The coastal region in Catalunya is well accessed by Renfe and is paralleled by hills. This allows us to take shortish train trips and start hiking form the station.  We hiked from Garraf to Sitges (photos here) along the GR92,  tried to hike from Olesa de Montserrat to Montserrat proper (had to abandon that plan in order to keep my newly purchased ill-fitting boots in new condition to return them) and did a loop last week from Castelldefels that brought us 20km through the Parc Natural de Garraff.  This coming weekend we plan to return to the Garraf Park to see its highest point, and then continue on to Begues.

The experiences so far have been quite different than my pacific west coast experiences in that here you don’t just hike straight into the forest and leave all traces of city behind.  Instead the trail often widens into a road and you find yourself meandering through a small village or farming fields.  Quite often we come upon ruins that date back farther than I can identify. With well marked trails the routes are easily accessible to anyone with a bit of Google-fu who can find the trail heads.

Armed with a new GPS-app on my iPhone we hope to start wandering a little further out, likely a trip to the Pyrenees will be in order.

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