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Sendero de Los Estrechos is one of the most popular hiking routes close to Montanejos in the Castellon Region of Spain, sitting just one hour north of Valencia.
The 8km circular path takes you from the town of Montanejos and the Mijares riverbed up to the foliage-covered peaks that border Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros.
Along the hike, you’ll get to see amazing panoramic views back over the town, across the scenic gorge below, and out to the surrounding mountains. Plus there are a few fun surprises along the way.
The only downside of hiking the Sendero de Los Estrechos is that there’s very little information available online about it. Especially for English speakers. This is why I decided to use my own experience – which required a lot of google translating and guesswork – to help others who might want to hike this stunning route.
How long does the Sendero de Los Estrechos take to hike?
According to Montanejos tourism, Sendero de Los Estrechos is supposed to take 2.5 hours to hike.
But if you plan on taking a few breaks, stopping to admire the viewpoints, and taking plenty of photos along the way, you should definitely factor in longer. We took around 4 hours to finish the hike.
Be sure to factor in a bit of extra time when planning your hike so you don’t get stuck out on the trail after dark – like we almost did.
How difficult is the Sendero de Los Estrechos?
Sendero de Los Estrechos requires a decent level of fitness and probably isn’t suitable for very young children. The path can be uneven and relatively steep at times, with some sheer drops over the cliff edge.
Check out this short video to get a better idea of the route.
Tips for hiking the Sendero de Los Estrechos
- Follow the right signposts. The Sendero de Los Estrechos is just one of several hiking routes in the area, so make sure that you’re following the correct signposts whenever you come to a crossroads. The Sendero de Los Estrechos is usually a white and pink/purple sign. You’ll also find similarly coloured markings on the path and trees along the route.
- Download the AllTrails app. Even with the signposts, we would have struggled not getting lost at times without this helpful hiking tool. Seriously, the app is an absolute must-have! And it’s free.
- Bring something waterproof. Even if it’s a warm and sunny day, you’ll need a waterproof if you want to stay dry when passing the El Chorro Waterspout.
- Wear sturdy trainers or hiking boots. The path can be uneven at times and the route requires clambering over some rocks, so make sure that you wear suitable footware.
Hiking the Sendero de Los Estrechos: The Route
A brief breakdown of the Sendero de Los Estrchos hiking route and its main landmarks…
The Starting Point
You can start the Sendero de Los Estrchos route in the town of Montanejos itself.
Find the Balneario Montanejos (thermal spa) building and take the sloping pathway to its left. This will take you down to the River Mijares.
Cross over the river and follow the path until you reach a left turn. Follow this turn past some old buildings until you reach a road. You’ll get some of your first glimpses back over Montanejos along this path.
Cross over the main road and continue on the gravel path ahead. This is where the real hike starts.
The First Stretch
The first stretch of the Sendero de Los Estrchos is the easiest section of the hike – in my opinion at least.
Walk along the large gravel pathway that winds its way uphill gradually at a slight incline. Along this part of the route, you’ll find many viewpoints with great views back over the town of Montanejos and the mountains that surround it.
Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros
As you ascend, you’ll eventually reach Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros. The area that this route is named after.
Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros is a deep scenic canyon created by the erosion of the River Mijares, with vertical walls more than 100 meters high. Carefully walk along the side of the canyon and enjoy the spectacular views of the turquoise waters below. Keep an eye out for watersports taking place along the river during the summer months.
Crossing The River
Next, you’ll start descending back down gradually until you reach the banks of the River Mijares once again.
Cross over the wooden bridge and continue to follow the curve of the river until you reach the El Churro Waterspout – trust me, you’ll know it when you see it!
At this point, you’re around halfway.
The El Chorro Waterspout
The impressive El Chorro Waterspout is an overflow channel of the Arenós Reservoir that shoots out huge amounts of water at a great speed close to the Sendero de Los Estrechos.
On a sunny day, the water and steam bursting out from the spout create a vivid rainbow right across the pathway. Don’t forget your camera!
At this point in your hike, you’ll need to grab your waterproof gear or be prepared to get a little soggy. The mist from the waterspout covers the entire pathway. You’ll need to pass by to continue on the route.
After passing the El Chorro Waterspout, follow the winding path up and around to join the nearby road. As you meet the road, you’ll see a tunnel in front of you. Don’t go through the tunnel, but instead follow the small pathway down to its left.
This part of the route requires some light clambering over rocks and boulders. You’ll need to climb the rocky trail that curves up and across the road tunnel below. Continue through the forest, watching out for the uneven path. Keep an eye out for the route markers on the ground and take things slowly if you need to.
Eventually, the path will even out and lead you back along the opposite – and less scenic – side of Los Estrechos de Chillapájaros.
The Black Cave
One of the final landmarks you’ll come across on the Sendero de Los Estrechos hiking route is the Cueva Negra (Black Cave). This cave is one of the largest cavities in the Region of Valéncia and a site of local significance.
The huge cave is of particular interest due to the many archaeological remains discovered inside. Several excavations in the 1900s found ashes from ancient bonfires (the black colour of the cave is believed to be from soot from the fires), stone tools, and pottery dating back to the Neolithic period. The cave’s findings are evidence of settlements in Montanejos over 12,000 years ago.
Reaching the Black Cave requires a slight uphill detour from the marked hiking route. Keep an eye out for the signposts so you don’t accidentally miss it.
The Finish Line
The Sendero de Los Estrechos finishes by bringing you back down to the main road leading into Montanejos.
You’ll arrive just outside of town close to Refugio, a hillside restaurant and hostel with a large terrace. If you get back during the restaurant’s opening hours, stop here for a well-deserved cocktail or delicious meal.
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