A Rocky Adventure – by Kelly Pietrangeli

by Patty Ryan posted on 25 November 2013

A Rocky Adventure

Kelly Pietrangeli takes her family on a great weekend outing in La Pedriza on the Guadarrama Mountain Range

Looking for an outdoorsy day trip just outside of Madrid? Already done all of the usual haunts and feeling a bit Royal Palace’d out?Kelly and her boys in La Pedriza

La Pedriza is an amazing setting for a walking adventure. Geological forces have created remarkable, strangely eroded granite boulders on the southern slopes of the Guadarrama Mountain Range. It’s one of the largest granite ranges in Europe and your journey will take you along peaks, rocky cliffs, streams and meadows.

I went for the first time last May when I took my two boys (14 and 11) and my mother in law. She’s 70 but I’ll point out she’s a great walker. She did Anne Pinder’s one week Camino adventure and in fact she was the one who’d done La Pedriza a few months earlier with a friend and knew how to get there.

We each took a small backpack filled with sandwiches, fruit and water and when we got hungry we climbed to the top of a huge flat boulder and ate our lunch overlooking the magnificent views. We later came across two wild mountain goats and watched each other closely from just a few feet away.

I returned again in September with my family and two visitors from England. In Madrid the temps were sweltering, but at La Pedriza it was perfect. We packed a picnic in our backpacks again, this time stopping to eat on big flat stones right along the river. We all took off our shoes and enjoyed a splash afterwards, surrounded by stunning scenery.

There are many route options once you get there and I’ll describe the one our family has repeated, starting with our drive to La Pedriza.

First find your way to the village of Manzana El Real. (50 km from Madrid)
I’ve only passed this village and its impressive castle (built in the 15th century) as we’ve been focused on the hiking adventure both times, but it looks worth a stop if you have enough time.

If you’re not stopping, don’t go into the village – stay on the road that runs along the outside of it.
Soon you’ll see a small sign for a right hand turn to La Pedriza. Turn right.
Pass the horse stables on your left.
Pass through the first parking area. You still have a long ways to go to get to the amazing part, so don’t be tempted to stop and park yet!
There was a guard here when we went in September telling us the parking was full ahead. But we held our ground and waited until a car exited and he let us pass.

Wind through the mountain road.
Now you’ll begin to see a few of the crazy rocks balanced precariously in odd positions.
Pass the Parking on the right with a snack bar. Keep going!
Pass the next Parking on your right too. Keep going!
Park at the last possible place before the road block. (There was plenty of parking everywhere, so glad we didn’t listen to the first guard.)
Restaurant Alta Montana is here. It was closed when we went on a weekday in May, but open at end of August. I wouldn’t count on it for lunch. Pack your own!

Now you’re on foot. Walk past the red barrier and follow the road.
Keep your eyes peeled and eventually on your right you’ll look down and see a small bridge crossing the river.
Now it’s time to go off-piste and your adventure begins!
If you have younger kids, it’s best to stick to the road, but not nearly as fun and the road does run out ahead.
Once we cross the river we just turn it into an adventure of climbing over boulders and heading up and down the mountain, following the river so we don’t get lost.

We eventually cross another small bridge to get back on the other side and then head up the road in the opposite direction of the car until we see a marked trail. This is a fun, but tricky, trail with symbols painted on rocks and trees that the boys like to spot and follow. This is where we ran into the mountain goats. On the mountain opposite you’ll spot some ‘faces’ where the rocks jut out.Kelly Pietrangeli in La Pedriza

There’s only one way back on this trail – the same way you came. By now we’ve had a few hours and are ready to follow the easy road back to car. On this road we felt like we were in Switzerland with cows grazing on sloping meadows surrounded by mountains!

We talk about stopping in the village of Manzana El Real to see the castle, but we’re always too pooped. One day!

Hope you get a chance to explore this very unique location on your next hiking adventure.

Kelly chilling by the stream in La PedrizaKelly Pietrangeli (area 4) is the co-creator of Project Me, helping busy mothers find a happier balance in life.

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