Hiking trails in Spain are classified as GR (Gran Recorrido: Long Distance), PR (Pequeño Recorrido: Short Distance), SL (Sendero Local: Local Trail) followed by the code for the region (such as CU for Cuenca or CV for Valencia) and its classifying number.
The hiking trail that I bring to you today is PR-CU-71 Sendero de las Hoces del Júcar (Júcar River Valley Hiking Trail). It is an easy trail to follow but in case you are not familiar with Spanish hiking signs here are the ones you need to watch out for throughout this trail; they are normally painted on trees or rocks.
Below you can see a map of the route. The starting point is marked in point A where there is a Parking Spot. Point B is where the end of the trail meets the start of the trail as it is circular.
You can also view and download the trail from Wikiloc here
This trail leads you down from the village of Alarcon and deep into the valley below only to then ascend on to higher ground on the opposite side of the village and onto the open plains of La Mancha. The river will be a distant memory for a short while but you will be soon be greeted by the mighty Júcar River once again to enjoy the route it has sculpted through the landscape.
The first part the of the trail will lead you down from the village (next to a parking) and then through a section of forest (watch out for the tree with the yellow and white markings; the red stripe indicates a Long Distance Trail) until you are met with La Puerta de Chinchilla (Chinchilla Passage), an old section of the defensive walls. Go through the opening in this wall and walk down to the bridge that you can see up ahead called Puente del Picazo.
Once you have crossed the river follow the sign that reads PR 71 Alarcon/Torre del Cañavate “Mirador”; it’s a slight trek up but it isn’t anything too strenuous (about 800 metres uphill).
Once you reach the top you’ll be in a flat area surrounded by agricultural fields and no sign of the river you left behind. Walk straight on until you are met with a sign around 1.5km later on your right and follow PR 71 Alarcón/Torre del Cañavate “Mirador”.
From now on you’ll be surrounded by trees until, out of the blue, you will be able to see the River Júcar again where there you’ll encounter the Mirador del Júcar (Júcar Viewpoint), a viewpoint with stunning views of the valley and it’s serpentine river cutting through the rock.
Just around the corner, you’ll be met with the Torre del Cañavate (Cañavate Tower). There are a few rustic benches where you can catch you breath a little while if you wish or take a group photo.
After the Cañavate Tower you will now see the river on the right hand side instead of the left. Up ahead there is another tower known as Torre de los Alarconcillos. You can walk up the steep mountain to explore this tower up close if you wish.
Instead of climbing the tower you can explore around the surrounding area and perhaps even dip your feet into the river. Beware of the snakes though!
After exploring you’ll need to cross the Puente del Tebar (Tebar Bridge) where you can then go up to a natural drinking fountain to refresh yourself and fill up your empty bottles. The sign says agua no potable (not drinking water) but I have drunk from that fountain all my life and have never been sick and am still alive so it’s up to you.
At this point you have two options: abandon the trail and walk up the road to access the village or follow the rest of the trail. If you choose to follow the trail, which is highly recommended, you will need to follow a small narrow path parallel to the river (on your right). This part of the trail was actually one of my highlights because you are surrounded by trees, overgrowth and the constant sound of the river.
Follow the path until you see a tree on your left with a marking of the trail (white and yellow stripes) and then walk up a stony terrain (there are some stairs cut into the rock) until you are back where you started. Walk back through the Puerta de Chinchilla and up through the forest until you arrive from whence you came when you weren’t hyperventilating yet.
If you are into Geocaching there are 24 caches in total; my team and I successfully found all but two caches. If you have no clue what I am talking about visit this site and join the cult.
I hope you enjoyed (or will enjoy) this beautiful trail as much as I did!
Difficulty level: Easy
Approximate time: 2 ½ hours
Total Distance: 9km
Type of trail: Circular