A route starting from this beautiful town in the interior of the province of
Alicante is a must, since it's one of the most popular areas for mountain bike fans in our region and the adjoining provinces of Murcia,
Valencia. This town is
Biar. This popularity is due to the beauty of the different locations that surround the town and the variety of routes that this mountain range features.
We begin our route from the Town Hall Square. We turn onto Calle Barrera to go around the historic town centre and get to the well-known Plaza del Plátano (Banana Square, named after the banana tree which can be found in it and which is more than 250 years old). From here, we continue our route until we reach the Church of
Biar, called Ermita de
Biar (Biar's shrine) or Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Gracia (Sanctuary of Our Lady of Grace, the town's patron saint). Even though we have already had the chance to stretch our legs, it's now that we really start getting into the Serra de
Biar mountain range.
We take the Camino de Benasait. This road joins
Biar with another town,
Banyeres de Mariola, crossing the range from East to West. There are many different routes on both sides of the road. We can choose which one is best to follow based on our technical skills and the level of difficulty we want. We'll go for a route suitable for people of an intermediate skill level, both physically and technically.
Just after the first 6 kilometres, we'll leave the Camino de Benasait and we'll turn right to go up the Barranc de Fontalbres. It's a really beautiful trail that goes across a woodland shaped by Mediterranean pine trees. Ahead of us, we'll find a 2.5 km ascent that gets steeper and steeper until it reaches the PR-CV 55 trail. We'll turn left at that point and, after a short rest, we'll resume the ascent all the way up to the Cerro de La Cruz, on the 12th kilometre of the route. The top of this mountain (at 1,130 metres of altitude) offers amazing views of the whole range and shows the contrast between its topography and the plains in Albacete and Murcia that can be seen in the distance.
After a quick, short descent we'll arrive at the second peak and, if we look towards the West, we'll be able to see both the Serra de Mariola mountain range and the town of
Banyeres de Mariola. We'll then start descending again, for another 2.5 km, until we get back to the Camino de Benasait. This descent presents no technical difficulties, since the trail combines both paved sections and parts made of compacted soil. It's precisely that lack of difficulty that can make it dangerous, since we can reach quite high speeds on it and the good state of the road might make us overconfident.
Once we get back to the Camino de Benasait (15.50 km after we started the route), we'll cross it following the directions to PR-CV 55. However, we'll have to turn right just after 200 metres to go on a loop that will take us back to the PR-CV 55 road on the 18.30 km of our route.
The road starts going up and down through two areas known as Altos de Martínez and Lloma Negra, only to go back to the Camino de Benasait just after the first 21.30 km of the route.
Needless to say, it is possible to cut the route short at any of the points we've mentioned before by sticking to the Camino de Benasait, whether because we are tired or late or because the weather makes it necessary. That way, this route offers a lot of different possibilities, as we explained at the beginning of this description.
In our case, instead of going back to
Biar through the trail, we'll leave the Camino de Benasait in order to go up a few metres towards
Banyeres de Mariola, and we'll take a very beautiful and entertaining road through a place called El Pinar de Camús, until we get back to our original trail on the 25th kilometre of the route. We will then head back towards
Biar, while enjoying the views the trail has to offer.
We'll turn right just after completing the 28th kilometre of the route. If you're feeling too tired or you aren't sure your technical skills are advanced enough, we recommend you head straight towards the town at this point, since the final part of the route might not be too technically demanding but requires certain skills, especially if we take into account the amount of exercise we've already done, which usually reduces our ability to react.
As we go on, we'll arrive at an area which features a few trails, called La Solana de Campaneta, from where we'll reach a place called Los Santos de La Piedra, which will allow us to enter Biar from the North, going around its magnificent castle and through the Portal del Camino de Xátiva on to Calle Luis Calpena. This road will lead us to both the start and the end of the route:
Biar's Town Hall Square.
Alicante / Alacant
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
What to see
What to eat
Biar's local cuisine includes a wide variety of rice dishes, such as arròs caldós (brothy rice), arroz con conejo (rice with rabbit meat) and Olleta, a moist stew with meat, rice, beans and vegetables. Spices play an important role in some of the traditional dishes, such as gazpacho, which is cooked using pebrella (a type of thyme indigenous to the area), and blood sausages, which contain oregano. Another popular local dish is the puchero con pelotas (a meatball stew). There are a lot of traditional pastries as well, such as coquetas (savoury pastries), mantecados (pastries made with flour, almonds and lard), rollos de anís (anise seed rolls), almendrados (pastries made with egg whites and almonds) and rollos de aguardiente (liquor rolls), cooked mainly during local festivities or for the Moors and Christians festival in May.
Did you know?
Due to its strategic position between the boundaries of the old kingdoms of Aragon and Castille, the town of Villa de Biar was an important bastion when the Muslims needed to defend the Valley of Biar. The border between these two kingdoms was established on Biar's mountain pass through the Treaty of Cazorla (1179), ratified some years later, in 1244, by the Almizra Treaty (signed in Campo de Mirra), which assigned Villena to Castille and Biar to Aragon.
Villa de Biar also became famous due to the production of turron (nowadays there's still a traditional turron factory in the town). Thanks to the high quality of its products, Biar had the honour of serving as suppliers for the Royal Family. During the Christmas season, the town produces turron, sugar-coated almonds, sponge cakes and rosemary honey.
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