Avila Natural Spaces
Pinar de Hoyocasero - HOYOCASERO
The small pine forest of Hoyocasero is situated to the South of the province of Ávila and in the depression opened by the river Alberche in between the sierras of Gredos and Paramera.
Its ecological interest lies in the fact this forest contains plant species which are typical of the Eurosiberian, Mediterranean and mountain biographical regions. The dominant tree species is the Scots pine, of which there are some excellent examples.
The pine forest is surrounded by a belt of Pyrenean oaks. The high scientific interest of the pine forest is increased by the beautiful landscape in which it is set.
Sierras de la Paramera y Serrota - SOLOSANCHO
Parallel and to the North of the Sierra de Gredos are two groups of mountains, of which the sierras of La Paramera and La Serrota stand out in particular. Their highest peaks reach about 2,300 metres and they still contain elements that remind us of the intense erosion caused by Quaternary glaciers.
These sierras in the province of Ávila still preserve sizeable groves of Pyrenean oak, and their slopes provide the sources of three important rivers: the Adaja, which runs through Valle Amblés, the Alberche and the Corneja. La Serrota also has an exclusive endemic species: the Acanthorrhinum rivas-martinezii. In terms of fauna, the golden eagle is an especially notable inhabitant.
Valle de Iruelas
The easternmost side of the Sierra de Gredos contains a small, but very special area: The Valle de Iruelas. Drained by a series of mountain streams - principally, the Iruelas, a tributary of the river Alberche - its slopes are covered by a valuable forest of many diverse species. Among these, the Austrian pine stands out, with several large, 1,000-year old examples still growing in the area. At the edges of the Valle de Iruelas, in the province of Ávila, we find the largest colony of black vultures in the whole of continental Europe (around eighty pairs).
This Natural Reserve ranges from the 1,950 metre high summit of Cerro de la Escusa to the banks of the Embalse del Burguillo (reservoir) at 730 metres. Near this reservoir, we find an old village which was once home to the "resineros", or resin-gatherers, who worked in these mountains. This village has currently been restored and turned into a centre for rural tourism.
The natural viewpoint of Puerto de Casillas, which has been declared a Special Bird Protection Zone (ZEPA), provides a privileged spot affording views of the whole Valle de Iruelas.
The Sierra de Gredos
One of the most classic trails for the visitor inside the Parque Regional de Gredos starts from the platform situated at the end of the road from Hoyos del Espino and enables us to reach the famous Circo de Gredos. After taking a wide stony road with great slabs of granite, which ascends towards the Prado de las Pozas, we leave behind the refuge of Reguero Llano and must then cross the cement bridge to cross the river of Las Pozas, which subsequently drops in various waterfalls through an ancient glacial valley.
The altitude, which exceeds 2,000 metres, and the dominant rocky flats have reduced the surrounding vegetation to a dense padded brushwood. The most common bushes are the Echinospartium horridum and juniper shrubs.
Following a steep climb we reach the Alto de Los Barrerones, from where the visitor can view the cirque and lake of Gredos. To reach them, visitors have to pass one or two rocky short steep slopes formed by crags and large boulders, characteristic forms of granite relief.
The only green area that can be found in the zone is formed by rock lichens. This crest of fantastic rock shapes is also the home to the star animal species of Gredos: the wild goat.
The trail reaches its end in the Trocha Real, which leads us, in the space of a few minutes, to the great glacial lake. Its cold and transparent waters reflect the high peaks which, along with Almanzor, enclose the Circo de Gredos: Risco de la Ventana, Los Tres Hermanitos, Cuchillar de las Navajas and El Sagrao. Once the visitor has admired this privileged alpine landscape, he/she can take the same road back to base.