Sierra de Algairén – Hiking in the high-desert wine country (Calatayud-Cariñena)

Who is tired of talking about the weather???

We haven’t been climbing in the Pyrenees since the beginning of 2018. Cue the broken record: bad luck with timing of storm patterns basically every free weekend since the turn of the new year (we’re on call 26 weeks a year!) + a quick and magical trip to California in April and’s June.

However, two very beautiful miracles popped up through all that bad luck:

  1. Lots of stomping around hometown hills

Jorge has been trying to get me out on a bike for…. 7 years? It happened. And in the span of like two weeks I: inherited a mountain bike, started going to indoor cycling classes (but because my gym’s called “Cool Gym” we don’t say spinning.. it is though.. the normal kind, no weights or dancing or whatever soul cycle does. My instructor competes in real life so he talks us through different trails and routes around town, it’s charming AF) AND began my struggle with clipless pedals.

As I write this I’m anxiously waiting for my very first MTB to arrive.. bought myself a pretty little trail bike with some wheels and some shocks and some brakes and some chains and all the stuffs, but the best part: HECHA EN ESPAÑA! The up and coming Spanish bike brand ‘Mondraker’ is changing out their 2018 lines and models a little early this season so I made he plunge.

Back to hometown hiking though. With all these free weekends not spent in the Pyrenees, we’ve been able to romp around close to home. And goddamn has it been the most gorgeous Spring ever. WILDFLOWERS.

sierra de algairén cariñena calatayud

Sierra de Algairén is nestled in the high-desert wine country of central Aragón, between Calatayud and Cariñeña. In fact, our wine is geographically indicated as a traditional specialty of the region. In Spanish it’s called “denominación de origen”, in English either Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or PGI or TSG… it’s used to protect and promote quality agriculture products and foodstuffs on the European level. And our wine is super decent here! They even sell it in my hometown in Northern California 🙂

So, just imagine the brilliant contrast of vines springing to life and spreading out as far as you can see, against warm desert land with velvety green hills popping up modestly in the background. AND THE WILDFLOWERS! Spring has been awesome here, and this was the perfect hike to celebrate it. algairén cariñena calatayud

Best things about this hike: it’s circular, the first part of the hike (and last if you so choose) follows the botanical trail, and the landscape is ever changing (pine forests to meadows to rocky precipice terrain).

We drove just past the town of Almonacid de la Sierra and left the van on the side of the dirt road. The trail is decently marked and there are many options… We chose to head up to the top of: Cerro del Espino (1188 meters).

– 16 km
– 1000 m total ascent (accumulated elevation gain)
– Some truly spectacular panoramic views


The clouds made for some epic lighting too:

How cute is Mito? He even posed for our group selfie:


Doesn’t a chill weekend of wine tasting and hiking around these parts sound dreamy? You’ve got my five-star recommendation!

Night friends,

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