Lose yourself among fallen leaves and fairy tale trees in the nature of Navarra, Tenerife and Asturias
Autumn is always bewitching with its ochre, yellow and reddish hues… a true festival of colour that’s best appreciated in forests. And Spain has forests that are a true visual delight at this time of year, ideal for a getaway, weekend or public holiday where you want to unwind. At B-Travel Blog, we’d like to recommend three forests where you can lose yourself among trees hundreds of years old, discover the magic of nature, take stunning photographs and listen to the rustle of the fallen leaves.
The Irati Forest (Navarra)
Beeches, oaks, firs, birches, willows, ferns, mosses and more are part of unquestionable beauty of the Irati Forest, one of the best known in the country. The 17,000 hectares of nature make it the second-largest and best-preserved beech-fir forest in Europe, after the German Black Forest.
Irati, located in the eastern Pyrenees of Navarre, is perfect for taking in the forest in all its glory. Listen to the whisper of the running water in the background and the fleeting sounds of the animals, and in autumn, enjoy the foliage that blankets the ground with its ochre tones. Irati, a Basque name referring to the abundance of ferns, is an enchanting park for taking a walk. Not to mention that in autumn it’s a paradise for those who enjoy looking for mushrooms and fungi, although the daily limits must be respected. Irati also has a network of signposted trails of varying difficulty and length. Not to mention the abundance of legends, such as that of the Basque yeti, Basajaun, the lord of the forest who must be obeyed so that he will protect you on your visit.
How can you get there?
You can enter Irati Forest either from Orbaizeta or from Ochagavía, where you will also find the Visitor Centre, a good starting point for finding out about the forest and its surroundings.
Muniellos Forest (Asturias)
Muniellos Forest is so unique and beautiful that only a maximum of 20 people a day are allowed to enter. The application for access permits opens every 15 December and you have to submit yours fast before they’re all taken. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco, Muniellos Forest is the largest oak forest in Spain and one of the iconic forests of Europe. It is located within the Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña e Ibias Natural Park, in Asturias. In autumn, its 2,695 hectares of wooded and hilly terrain make for a colourful landscape that will take your breath away. Its irresistible beauty is thanks to species such as the sessile oak, the dominant species in the area with many specimens hundreds of years old. But it is also home to beech, yew, ash, willow, hazel and birch trees, among others. Brown bears, wildcats, wolves, roe deer, chamois and wild boar have also found a protective refuge in Muniellos Forest, although they are not usually seen by humans. There are two good routes through Muniellos, of varying difficulty. The gentler one is about 14 kilometres long and follows the river, with an easy slope except for a demanding stretch at the end. The Fonculebrera route, 20 kilometres long, is more challenging, with steep slopes and rocky sections. Both hikes start at the Tablizas Visitor Centre. Make sure you bring the necessary provisions.
How can you get there?
The most practical way is from Cangas del Narcea, going in the direction of Ventanueva until you reach Moal, where you take the turn-off to Tablizas, the starting point of the forest route. Another option is to go through Villablino, in the north of the province of León.
*Important information: If there are no open spots, what should I do? Keep your fingers crossed! Seriously though, there are usually some cancellations, so if you’re passing by and you don’t have a reservation, you can always try your luck. But it’s best to plan your visit in advance.
Enchanted Forest Trail (Tenerife)
Another romantic hike that’s perfect for autumn is the Sendero del Bosque Encantado, or Enchanted Forest Trail, in Tenerife’s Reserva Integral de El Pijaral (part of Anaga Rural Park). The forest is protected and has a limit of 45 visitors per day. And “enchanted” isn’t being used lightly. When you see the twisted shapes of the trees, the mosses climbing up the branches, and the fern jungles, you’ll think you’ve stepped into a children’s fairy tale. A surprising landscape in the Canary Islands, which are warm and welcoming and full of hidden gems to explore. If you want to walk through the whole forest, take the circular route of about 7 kilometres, which can be completed in just over four hours. You can take your time and enjoy the surroundings while you look for the Anaga violet, a native flower. It’s a pleasant hike among many different kinds of ferns, including the píjaras, an arborescent species up to three metres long that give the area its name. The trail will allow you to unwind, forget about time and discover the vegetation and endangered species. And enjoy breathtaking views, such as the sight of Roque Anambro.
How can you get there?
The best way to get to the Anaga massif on the east of the island is by car, although there are good connections to public transport. From Santa Cruz de Tenerife, take the TF-12 highway towards San Andrés and exit at El Bailadero to continue along the TF-123 towards Chamorga, approximately an hour’s drive.