Walking in Serra Mariola

The Communidad Valenciana region consists of three provinces, Alicante, Valencia and Castellon, and has several natural areas. The largest are the Serras Serrella and Mariola lying either side of Alcoy (of Morros and Christianos fame, 22 to 24 April annually) and just 50 kilometres or so from the popular Mediterranean coast. Valencia itself is only about 100 kilometres to the north.

Further to the east is the charming Vall de Pop with its chain of beautiful pueblos such as Xálo, Parcent, Alcalalí and Lliber. A panoramic drive south of the Vall de Pop brings us up by a mountain road into the Serra de Bernia, a place of remote and stunning beauty.

The whole area is quite mountainous and with endless hiking possibilities right up to as high as 1200 metres above sea level. Very high up the terrain can be quite barren but lower down there is a mixture of pine and oak forests and the valley farm areas extensively cultivated with almonds, olives, carob and citrus fruit trees. In February the mass of almond blossom is a particular delight. There many ruined castles and other buildings to remind us of Spain’s turbulent history. Ice houses too can be seen – a reminder of the demand for ice before refrigeration and that it can get pretty cold and snowy high up in the winter. In spring the air is full of bird song and Griffon Vultures are a common sight.

There is a huge number of locally signed PR (Pequeño Recorrido) walks available throughout the region and each village will have route information boards prominently displayed giving tracks, height gain and distance. They are generally (but not always) well signed with both finger posts and yellow and white bar marks.

The best walking period is between October and May, bearing in mind the likelihood of snow high up in the winter. Outside of the summer months, when you probably would not be walking anyway because of the heat, there is plenty of reasonably priced accommodation available whichever part of the region you plan to walk in. You will certainly need your own transport. Most pueblos have a good selection of bars and restaurants.

In addition to its inherent beauty and walking variety, the Region’s closeness to the coast, its charming pueblos and, of course, the fascinating city of Valencia not far away, all add up to this being an excellent choice for a walking holiday destination. We have put together a portfolio of nine walks for this region - the others in Communidad Valenciana are in Castellon (Morella), some way off, and separately described. These nine walks should give you a good insight into this wonderful area. Do try it – you will not be disappointed.

Serra Mariola



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