The main attraction of this route is the Sierra del Benicadell. This mountain range is part of the Sierra de Mariola and stands as a 25 kilometre long natural border between the provinces of
Alicante. The top of the Benicadell, a 1,104 metre high mountain, is its highest point. This magnificent mountain will definitely not disappoint anyone.
The route around the Benicadell is a must for all mountain bike lovers in the area. One of the most popular start points is the one at
Lorcha/L´Orxa, from which we can follow Route n. 6, called "Circular al Benicadell", designed by the El Comtat MTB centre.
We'll start the route from a very convenient meeting point: the local football field in Muro de Alcoy. We'll turn onto Calle José Bono and then left onto Calle Duquesa de Almodóvar. After only 100 metres, we'll turn right onto Vía Camino, which will take us all the way down to the Agres River. Once we go past the riverbed and we reach Vía Pista, we'll take a right turn to get to the same level as the Autovía del Mediterráneo motorway. Here we'll have the chance to admire the first views of the Benicadell mountain range and the whole Foia del Comtat, with
Muro de Alcoy at the forefront.
We'll have a 9 kilometre flat road ahead, only interrupted by some slightly steep ravines. At about the 4th kilometre of the route, we'll arrive at the small village of
Turballos. Even though the Vía Pista road is very quiet, we might get the odd car passing by, so we'll take Calle Calvari instead, in order to reach the trail that follows the PR CV-184 road and runs parallel to the Vía Pista. This road, which is known by locals as Vía Verde (scenic route) and goes between almond and olive fields, will lead us to the village of
Gaianes (6th kilometre). If we take this road during the months of February and March, after the almond trees have bloomed, we'll be surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes one can imagine. We'll leave
Gaianes through Calle de L'Hort, which joins the road that will take us to
Beniarrés. Before arriving at this village, we'll come across the Font del Barranc del Port. The cool -but not purified- water from this fountain can be very refreshing on a hot summer day, and the area offers a very beautiful view of
Beniarrés. We'll easily spot the church of Sant Pere de
Beniarrés (built in the 20th century on top of an old Gothic church), with its dome and its tower, and the Holy Christ church at the top of the village.
We'll set off from
Beniarrés and we'll begin a climb through a red paved road that virtually follows the steepest and most direct way possible towards an area called Partida Ribera. We recommend stopping for a while at some point along this 2.5 kilometre ascent in order to admire the views of
Beniarrés and its reservoir. After we finish the climb at the 11.5 kilometre point of the route, we'll come across a fork in the road. We'll take the right exit towards the Camí de l'Alba road. We'll have a short break over the next kilometre of the route, since the road goes quite flat as we leave the Alt de Pinaro on our right. After this, we'll follow El Comtat's Route number 06. We'll begin our way around the Benicadell through an area known as "les Planisses" and we'll continue through the "Ombría del Benicadell". As indicated by its name (ombría means "shady area" in Valencian), this is the northern side of the range, which can't be reached by the sun. We'll notice this straightaway due to the changes in vegetation and temperature.
This road is wide and in very good conditions. Some parts are quite physically demanding, but still don't present any technical difficulties. As we said, the views on this route are very rewarding: on a clear day, we'll be able to see the Valencian villages of
Rafol de Salem,
Carrícola, together with the whole Valley of Albaida. On the other hand, if the day is cloudy, we'll have the chance to see the clouds from above at some points on the route, allowing us to feel the kind of peace and quiet you can only find in places like this.
Even though we'll find a lot of different roads leading to the Valencian villages we just mentioned, we won't leave the main road. At about the 14th kilometre of the route, we'll reach the "Casa Forestal de Les Planisses" and, after 21.5 kilometres, we'll arrive at the Font Freda. This drinking fountain is a good spot to stop and fill up our water bottles before we face the last part of the route. In between these two places, we'll find an access control fence used to dissuade cars and motorbikes from passing through, but we can safely do so on our bikes. This section belongs to the PR CV 213 road.
We'll leave the Font Freda and we'll turn left towards the ruins of the "Corral y la cava de Diego" (18th century). We'll take at this point a really beautiful path which requires some technical skills and extreme caution. It's not especially dangerous, but the ground has a lot of loose stones and there's quite a steep drop on one of the sides, so we should never go through it by ourselves. This path is known by many people as the "sendero al puerto de Albaida" or "path to the top of the mountain pass of Albaida" (because that's where it leads) and the area is called Mallá de la Oveja. From there, we'll take the old N-340 road to get to
Muro de Alcoy, using the bridges and tunnels available to go past the Autovía del Mediterráneo motorway a few times. In order to make our way back even more appealing , we'll go all the way down to the Agres River and we'll take the road that goes along the riverbed, known as Vía Pontón, to get back to Vía Camino and then to Calle Duquesa de Almodóvar. We won't have any trouble locating the football field where we started, known as "La Llometa", thus reaching the end of the route.
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Alicante / Alacant
What to see
Muro de Alcoy's historic quarter, with its blue devotional ceramic tiles
The "Barranc de l´Encantà" in Beniarrés.
What to eat
The local cuisine of Muro de Alcoy and the towns and villages the route goes through, such as Gaianes or Beniarrés, has traditionally consisted of heavy dishes like the borreta (vegetable and fish stew), the blat picat (meat, vegetable and wheat stew) and the bajoques farcides (stuffed red peppers), together with some types of cured meat, spiced with the flavours of the Sierra de Mariola's famous herbs. However, the most popular and well-regarded local dish in this town is the pericana, made with a variety of dry red peppers that is quite commonly used in the area. Herb liquors from this region, such as the famous herbero, are also very popular, together with coffee liquor, which is highly appreciated by people from the mountains around Alcoy.
Did you know?
The village of Turballos, which was abandoned a few times and repopulated for the last time in the 1970s, is nowadays a self-sufficient community and an important religious centre.
The monument to Tío Pep. Muro is very proud of its most famous character, Tío Pep (Uncle Pep), mentioned in a very popular local song called "El tio Pep se'n va a Muro" (Uncle Pep goes to Muro). There's a statue dedicated to him at the town's entrance. (Avenida de Valencia).
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