10 hiking routes near Madrid


The Sierra de Guadarrama to the north of Madrid is a mountainous area 80 km long, full of wonderful hiking trails of varying levels of difficulty that bring nature and fresh air to the capital. With 30,000 hectares protected, the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park represents one of the most beautiful and striking landscapes in the Community of Madrid, where you can observe more than 1,680 species of flora and hundreds of animal species, including the Iberian imperial eagle, the black vulture, the roe deer and the mountain goat, among many others.

If you are passionate about nature, read on and discover the 10 best hiking routes in Madrid in the wonderful Sierra de Guadarrama. A magical place that will become your favourite destination to disconnect, get in shape and get to know some of the most beautiful villages of the Community of Madrid.

What are the best hiking routes near Madrid?

1. Senda del Cancho de los Muertos

The Senda del Cancho de los Muertos is a path of medium difficulty, about 2 h 30 min duration and a length of 5.6 km and one of the best hiking trails to do if you want to connect with nature in the Community of Madrid. The trail runs very close to the Manzanares River, so you can see beautiful plant species that grow along its banks, such as willows, ash and hazelnut trees, among many other tree species, as well as brambles and rockroses in the undergrowth.

Also, at the end of the route you can enjoy the wonderful town of Manzanares el Real, where it is located. This fairytale town has an impressive castle built in the 15th century that is one of the most representative examples of late-medieval architecture.

2. From Navalmedio to Puerto de Navacerrada

Many of the best hiking routes in the Community of Madrid start or arrive at the Navacerrada pass. Below we tell you about several of them, but we invite you to continue researching this beautiful area because it has a lot to offer.

The route from Navalmedio to Puerto de Navacerrada starts at the Navalmedio reservoir and climbs towards the Puerto de Navacerrada, where the ski resort is located. The route is low difficulty, but it is a somewhat long 13 km, or 3 and a half hours. However, it is well worth the effort, as the views of the pines, the reservoir and the romantic waterfalls of the Matasalgado stream are truly marvellous. Once you’ve reached the Puerto de Navacerrada, it’s best to enjoy the views while you recharge your batteries, as you now have to retrace your steps all the way back to the car park near the Navalmedio reservoir.

3. From Puerto de Navacerrada to Puerto de la Morcuera

Also known as Cuerda Larga route, this route is one of the most beautiful that can be done by the Community of Madrid as it offers wonderful views of the Valley of Lozoya. Unlike the previous route, this one is high difficulty and is 18.2km long, which means 2 hours, so we do not recommend it for those who are not used to hiking.

The beginning of the route is the hardest part, as you climb the mountain of the Bola del Mundo and therefore have to face a tough 2km ramp. Once you’ve reached the top, the route is smoother, although if you do it in winter you have to be very careful because of the snow and frost.

It should also be noted that this is an unmarked route, so it is very important to carry a GPS that does not require an internet connection.

the best areas for hiking in Madrid
Valle de Lozoya, one of the best areas for hiking in Madrid @unsplash

4. Los Siete Picos from the Puerto de Navacerrada

Another of the best and most popular routes in the Community of Madrid is the Seven Peaks (os Siete Picos) from the Puerto de Navacerrada. This is a 10-kilometre circular route of low difficulty that offers you the best views of the Sierra de Guadarrama from up to seven different peaks.

This hiking route is especially special because it not only allows you to connect with and contemplate nature, but also from many of its points you can see the skyline of Madrid.

5. From Rascafría to La Granja via the Reventón pass

A long and demanding route of about 17 kilometres that runs through the Carpetanos Mountains to the gardens of La Granja to finish in the beautiful Palace of San Ildelfonso. This is one of the most historic routes in the Community of Madrid as it has been used since around the 18th century.

It is a particularly interesting route not only for its natural beauty, but also for the historical remains that can be found. From remains of the Civil War as trenches and bastions, to important monuments such as the monastery of El Paular and the gardens and palace of the Royal Site of La Granja de San Ildefonso.

It is not recommended for winter as snow often obstructs the path.

6. Sestil del Maillo y the slope of Mojonavalle, botanical hiking route near Madrid

If you are passionate about botany, the path of Sestil del Maillo and the slope of Mojonavalle is one of the hiking routes indicated for you near Madrid. A 4.5 km and approximately 1 h 45 min walk of low difficulty that starts from the recreational area of the port of Canencia and that will allow you to enjoy the flora of the Sierra de Guadarrama in all its splendour.

This route runs through a dense pine forest of Scots pine, as well as other wooded areas where you can see specimens of Douglas fir, a species native to North America. Another key point on this route is the Chorrera de Mojonovalle viewpoint, which offers wonderful views of the landscape, as well as the beautiful aspen tree. At the end of the route, the path splits off, to the right you will find majestic century-old pines and to the left, impressive holly, yew and birch trees.

7. Route of Chorros del Manzanares and the Charca Verde

La Pedriza is another of the wonderful areas that can be visited to make routes in the Community of Madrid. Named for the impressive rock formations that dominate the landscape, La Pedriza offers a number of routes of varying difficulty and one of the best is the Chorros de Manzanares and the Charca Verde (Green Pond).

This is a low difficulty route of 11 kilometres along the banks of the Manzanares River, so, as well as being ideal for children, it is wonderful for spring and early summer because you can stop to rest and refresh yourself in the cool water of this river. Although bathing is not allowed, you can simply take a rest to recharge your batteries near the river and get your face wet.

The impressive Pedriza of Madrid
The impressive La Pedriza of Madrid @pixabay

8. Route of the Bourbon Causeway, hiking with children near Madrid

One of the most impressive places in the Community of Madrid is the Puerto de la Fuenfría, both for its beauty and its historical value. It is a mountain pass that crosses the Sierra de Guadarrama and links the provinces of Madrid and Segovia since Roman times, in the 1st century AD. The Route of the Bourbon Causeway (Ruta de la Calzada Borbónica) runs along the only well-preserved section of the Roman road that was the only connection between these provinces until the 18th century.

This is a route of 4 hours and 5.9 km, ideal for hiking with children near Madrid for its low difficulty and its undeniable historical and archaeological value, not only because of the road, but also because the path passes through the Roman bridge of Descalzo.

Route of the Bourbon Causeway
Route of the Bourbon Causeway from the air @gongracia

9. Peñalara from Puerto de Cotos

The Pico de Peñalara is the highest point in the Sierra de Guadarrama and runs through a very interesting area as you can see the remains of glaciers.

As you can imagine, the difficulty of the route is high despite its short length of 5 kilometres and duration of 2 and a half hours. The route starts at the information point of Peñalara. So, it is a good opportunity to find out about the species of flora and fauna that can be found along the way, as well as indications to avoid deviations. We don’t recommend this route in winter.

10. Senda Ortiz, an ornithological hiking route near Madrid

Of low difficulty, 9.9 km long and lasting about 2:30 hours, in the Sierra de Guadarrama there is an ideal route for birdwatchers and birdwatching enthusiasts. This is the Senda Ortiz, a circular route that runs along the La Barraca forest track, leaving the Navacerrada and Ejército del Aire reservoirs to the right, as well as the Parque de Las Vueltas and finally the beautiful Barraca viewpoint.

Although, of course, this route is not the only one where you can observe the different species of birds that live in the Sierra de Guadarrama, it is one of the most suitable for the way it goes. The forest track of La Barraca, as well as being a protected area, is one of the most beautiful and lively pine forests in the area, where, if you walk discreetly, you will be able to spot black vultures, Alpine Accentors and Red-billed Choughs, among many others. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Check out the itinerary of natural areas near Madrid created by @Gongracia to see more places in the Sierra de Guadarrama! 

Tips on hiking routes near Madrid

  • Respect the environment, fauna and flora of the Sierra de Guadarrama during your hiking routes in Madrid
  • Do not throw rubbish on the ground. Keep your rubbish in a bag or in your rucksack and throw it in the rubbish bins at the exits.
  • Wear appropriate footwear for hiking, such as hiking boots or hiking trainers.
  • Bring water and food with you, as these are protected areas you will not find restaurants or food kiosks on the routes.
  • Always check the weather before starting a route and choose the most favourable days, avoid snowfall and extreme temperatures.
  • Get up early for your hiking routes near Madrid. Normally at the start of the routes you’ll find a car park. But hiking is a very popular activity, so the car parks fill up quite early and as these are the areas under protection you won’t be able to park in the countryside.

How to organise a travel itinerary with Passporter?

Sign up or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspiration from the experiences of other travellers.
  • Create your own itinerary and add suggestions from the app to it.
  • Add the stops you’re most interested in, as well as the restaurants and bars where you want to eat (you can use the points of interest listed in this post as a reference).
  • Organise your itinerary by route days according to their location on the map (you can take inspiration from the routes we present in the post).
  • Check out the travel budget that the app calculates for you based on your travel stops, restaurants, and leisure activities.
  • Make any modifications you need to make and you’re all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience. Upload photos of the places you have visited on your trip to the app and recommend to other travellers what to see on your hiking routes near Madrid.

Frequently asked questions about hiking routes in Madrid

What is the climate like in the Sierra de Guadarrama?

The climate of the Sierra de Guadarrama is continental Mediterranean and mountain climate. This means that it has very cold winters and dry, cool summers. Temperatures are lower at higher altitudes and rainfall (usually snowfall) is more abundant. The coldest month is January, with an average temperature of 0ºC, and the warmest month is July, with an average temperature of 17ºC.

When is the best time to go hiking near Madrid?

The best times to go hiking are during spring and autumn, when temperatures start to warm up but are still pleasant and there is no danger of frost or snow.

How to get to the hiking trails in Madrid?

The best way to get to the start of most of the routes is by car. The most famous routes in the Community of Madrid are safe and well-equipped areas with facilities such as parking and sometimes a bar-restaurant. However, you will have to arrive early to get a parking space. Other routes, such as those that start in towns like Cercedilla, can be reached by Cercanías Renfe train to the town and then walk to the start of the route.

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