The route we describe here is quite an unusual one, since we'll go around the same mountain -the Sierra de Oltá- twice. The reason for this is that we'll be on a different altitude each time, which will give us the chance to see a wide variety of landscapes.
This route begins at the FGV-Tram narrow-gauge railway station in
Calp. We've chosen this start point because it's easy to access whether you're coming from somewhere else in
Calp (the station is very well signed all over the town), getting there by car (there is a parking area available) or arriving by TRAM from one of the towns linked by the railway network. You will find all the information regarding bike transport if you follow this link:
http://www.tramalicante.es/page.php?idioma=_en (You'll need to notify in advance how many cyclists will be using this service and at what times).
We won't have much time to warm up on this route. Right after we start, we'll have to go up a paved road that will take us through the Oltamar building complex. Even though we'll see a lot of different paths and roads that lead to private houses, we'll need to stick to the main road. We will have to pay extra attention after having done 2.3 km of the route to make sure we stay on the same road after the fork we'll find (the left exit is the one we'll use on our way back). About a hundred metres later we'll come across another fork in the road and we'll have to take the left exit, even though we'll use the one on the right when we get here the second time, in order to begin the way around the Sierra de Oltá through a different road, as we mentioned before.
Right after the 3rd kilometre, we'll leave the paved road and we'll start a demanding climb on a hard packed dirt road. This is the toughest part of the whole route. We'll begin our way around the Sierra de Oltá through the highest road, which runs on its northern side and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea, the Cumbres del Sol (Benitatxel) and the Sierra de Bernia mountain range. This ascent ends at the 5.20 kilometre point and then turns into a very steep descent -not a very technically demanding one, but some of the dirt in the road is loose and we should avoid being overconfident-, which will lead us to the crossing with the road we'll ride through when we go around the mountain for the second time.
The road goes on along the eastern side of the Sierra de Oltá and, after approximately 7.5 km, we'll reach its southern end and we'll be able to admire the amazing views of the Mediterranean Sea again, together with the Bernia mountain range, El Mascarat and El Toix at the forefront. On a very clear day, we might be able to see
Benidorm (with the "Serra Gelada" mountain range) and even the town of
We'll keep going counter-clockwise around the Sierra de Oltá through a part of the road that we'll have to use again later, while enjoying the views of
Calp and the magnificent Peñón de Ifach. It's quite interesting to see how the concrete and steel buildings look small from here if you compare them with this huge rock.
After about 8.5 kilometres, we'll arrive at the Ermita de San Francesc (St. Francis' Church) or Ermita Vella d´Oltà (Oltà's old church), built in 2002, next to a recreation area where we can stop and rest for a while. Every 4th of October there is a pilgrimage to this church in St. Francis' honor.
Just 100 metres away from the church, we'll see a fork in the road. We'll keep going through the dirt road (on the left) until we get to another road that goes across the Oltamar building complex. We'll ride through a short part of the paved road again in order to start our second time around the mountain on its lower road. Don't forget, we'll now turn right at the 11.2 kilometre point to leave the paved road and the residential area again after just a few metres.
This road, which runs about 80 or 100 metres below the one we went through before, will offer us a different view of the area until we get back to the higher road again at the 15th kilometre of the route. The lower road goes uphill, too, but it's a much milder slope than the previous one and it has a few flat sections that will let us rest for a bit, even if we haven't actually covered that long a distance.
We'll get back to the Ermita Vella d´Oltà (2002) and, at the fork (where we'll see an information board with all the trails and routes in the Sierra de Oltá), we'll take the road on the right (17.6 km) to begin the descent towards a building complex known as "Les Cucarres". This road will lead us back to the railway station, i.e. the end of the route.
It's quite an intense route, since the elevation/distance ratio is quite high. If you're an experienced cyclist, you will probably find it short but demanding, whereas if you're beginning to get into the world of cycling, this is one of those routes that will make you love this sport thanks to the beautiful areas it goes through.
Alicante / Alacant
Alfàs del Pi (L')
Villajoyosa/Vila Joiosa (La)
What to see
The Peñón de Ifach Nature Reserve and Calp's salt lakes are the most significant natural attractions.
One of the most relevant architectural attractions in the route is the Ermita de San Francesc (St. Francis's Church) or Ermita Vella d´Oltà (Oltá's old church), built in 2002, and the fish market at the end of the route. Even though the whole of Calp's historic heritage is very valuable. More information: http://en.calpe.es/
What to eat
All types of seafood from the fish market in Calp and its most popular dishes: the llauna de Calp (fish stew) and the arrós del senyoret (rice and seafood).
We recommend accompanying those with some wine from the Marina Alta (PDO Alicante).
Did you know?
One of the most traditional dishes in Calp, the arrós del senyoret, is named after a "Senyoret" ("young lord" in Valencian), because all the seafood in it is peeled, so the "Young lord" doesn't have to make his hands dirty.
Back in the 1930s, Ernest Hemingway used to spend his summer holidays in Calp.
Calp has the highest number of foreign residents. It's home to people from up to 76 different countries.
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