This is one of the most popular routes for families from
Alicante/Alacant because the start point is close to town and the road is kept in very good conditions, making this route suitable for children.
Even so, we should not forget that our bikes must be equipped with lights, since this route goes through a few tunnels of considerable length, with whole sections that cannot be reached by daylight. We should also take into account that some parts of the route are shared with cars and, even though most of these parts are just accesses and driveways to private houses and it's not often that you get cars driving through them, it doesn't hurt to be a bit cautious.
What we're going to describe here is the route up from
Agost and back. This way, once we begin to feel tired, we'll just have to take the road back down to the start point. However, we only recommend riding all the way back down if we have young children with us or our level of fitness is not the best, even if not doing it might involve a higher degree of organisation when it comes to vehicles.
We'll start the route from
Agost's train station, and we'll begin the climb to the Maigmó mountain pass soon after we set off. The total elevation gain of the route is 440 metres, which we obtain by subtracting the 220 metres we'll do in
Agost from the 660 metres we'll cover on the Maigmó. The Vía Verde (scenic route) is very well signed, and it has some rest areas, protection rails and interpretation boards along the way (some of these boards have suffered from vandalism, just like the lighting systems in the tunnels).
The beginning of the route runs along the currently active railway. After a few metres, the lack of a little bridge on the road will force us to go down a steep –but short– slope, and then up again so we can get back on track.
Vineyards, olive fields, almond fields and some other crops fill the route with colour while it goes through an area that has been heavily reforested during recent years. After going past a few crossings with some paved agricultural roads and taking an overpass at the 4th kilometre of the route, we'll start to get close to
Agost. This town will be the first and the only one we'll come across on our way, so it's a good spot to get provisions if we're short on anything. This town is famous for its pottery industry, which is something we'll understand easily as soon as we see the reddish soil that the area is covered in, usually associated to high-quality clay.
At about the 5th kilometre of the route, we'll be able to cross the road from
Agost (CV 820) safely by using a recently built footbridge. We'll keep going past some more fields and crops until we reach another footbridge at the 6.9 kilometre point, this one longer and smarter than the previous one, from which we'll be able to check out the Derramador ravine from above and see the multiple ravines that we'll go across before arriving at the end of the scenic route.
After going through another level crossing on a paved agricultural road and being flanked by palm trees again, we'll get into one of the most impressive cuttings on the scenic route (9th km). The road there makes a wide bend to the left, while both the high clay walls of this cutting and two harmonious arches that belong to overpasses for agricultural roads provide some shade, which can be a blessing on a hot summer day. This area is known in the region as Plá Aceituna.
The next ravine (at the 10th kilometre) is known as Rambla del Tarraig and, once we've gone past it, we'll be able to see the Maigmó mountain range as the whole landscape begins to turn greener.
We'll get to the first tunnel at the 12th kilometre of the road. It's quite a short and straight tunnel, so we'll manage to get through without having to use our bike lights. Right after we exit it, we'll find another surprise: the Forn del Vidre viaduct (140 m).
Once we have crossed this viaduct, at the 13th kilometre of the route, we'll arrive at a rest area where we can enjoy the shade of the pine trees, park our bikes on the bike rack or sit at one of the tables to have a snack and get some of our energies back. When we're ready, we'll set off again to get to the next milestone on the route at the 14th kilometre: the Palomaret viaduct.
After going through an area with ravines and Aleppo pine trees, we'll come across the next tunnels at the 14.7 and 15.7 kilometre points of the route. Amongst the cuttings, the high slopes, the ravines and the nearby clay mountains, we'll begin to notice that the CV-827 road on our right-hand side starts going uphill, creating countless sharp curves all the way through the mountain range up to the top of the Maigmó. This is one of the most beautiful areas on the route: the smell of the pine trees seems to take over everything else and the tunnels add some kind of magic to the landscape. The 381-metre pitch-dark gallery of the tunnel we'll go through at the 17.4 kilometre point will be the prelude to the even longer tunnel that we'll use later in order to get to the other side of the Collado de la Horna. But before that, if we need to regain some of our strength, we can stop at the rest area we'll find amongst the pine trees on the right side of the road.
The sixth and last tunnel, which we'll find after having covered 18.6 of the route, is without a doubt the longest one (525 m). It will allow us to cut right through the heart of the Maigmó and, in times like spring or autumn, when the weather is more unstable, we can sometimes feel a big difference in temperature and humidity between the entrance and the exit of the tunnel.
The last 3 kilometres of the route are slightly steeper, but we'll be rewarded both by the views of the area and the knowledge of the efforts we'll have made so far. On the last kilometre, we'll see the motorway that joins
Alcoy/Alcoi (A7) on our right side, together with a service area with a petrol station, a small shop and a restaurant. If we'd rather stop here than at the rest area which is located at the end of the scenic route (at the 22nd kilometre), we can access the service area by taking the roundabout nearby, crossing the motorway through the underpass and turning onto the corresponding service road.
Whatever our choice is, we'll have to retrace our steps in order to get back to
Agost's train station and reach the end of the route.
Alicante / Alacant
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
Alfàs del Pi (L')
What to eat
Agost's cuisine shows the town's relationship with agriculture. Most local recipes turn humble ingredients into impressive dishes. We recommend trying the empanadillas de vino and the empanadillas de cerveza (savoury pastries with tuna and cooked with wine or beer), the coca de aceite and the coca a la pala (both are similar to flatbread), the cocido con pelotas (meatball stew), the olla con trigo (meat and wheat stew) and the rice with rabbit and snails.
Did you know?
Saint Justa and Saint Ruffina are the patron saints of potters, and having one of the local churches named after them is clear proof of Agost's pottery tradition. This church was built in 1821, which can give us an idea of how far back this historic tradition goes.
One of the most classic pottery items in Agost is the botijo ("càntir" in Valencian), a kind of pitcher made with white mud and salt, hand lathed and fired in a woodfire oven.
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