The main objective of MontañasVacías (empty mountains) is to raise awareness about Spanish Lapland through an off-road bikepacking route (or MTB touring, whatever you call it…) taking Teruel as starting and finishing point. Runs through the Montes Universales, Sierra de Javalambre and Sierra de Gúdar, mostly by forest roads and double tracks.
Even so, it isn’t strictly a route designed for gravel bikes, but neither is a MTB route in a pure sense. The right choice of bike and gear is part of the game.
Whatever bike you choose, there will be points where you will find its limits, but always by technically easy gravel roads, and fleeing as much as possible from asphalt.
If you choose light and fast gravel tyres, maybe you will find a couple of short hike-a-bike sections, and if you use a pure MTB, some fast gravel roads can be very long. Adventure. 40 – 42 mm tyres can be a good minimum, and about gearing… as low as you can.
MontañasVacías is a demanding route, it cannot be considered a beginner’s route. The elevation gain, the toughness of the terrain, and riding in such a remote place, make this route not ideal for people without enough experience in this kind of trips. To avoid dangerous situations, it’s advisable to have a sufficient knowledge of mechanics, orienteering, map interpretation, first aid or meteorology. I would not recommend it as a first incursion into bikepacking. You should start gradually, with easy routes, testing your gear, your bag configuration, and above all, testing yourself.
Without any doubt, my two main inspirations for this route are the CAT700 and the Torino-Nice Rally, both with the same philosophy of searching the man vs machine challenge. It was precisely preparing them when I discovered most of the sections of this route.
However, unlike both, MontañasVacías can be considered as an «open route», without a specific date. You choose when to do it and with whom, but with all that bikepacking philosophy I have experienced in both events, about adventure, friendship, travel, long distance, culture, gastronomy, etc.
In a lot of people that I’ve met all this time I’ve perceived the need for discovering new routes, new places, new people with the same concerns, new excuses to gather your old buddies, or, why not, a solo challenge. This route is born as a response to this need.
And I think that this can be achieved through a permanent itinerary, for free, and not in the other corner of the world.
Choose your own distance. The route has several links or shortcuts, «atajos» in Spanish, so you can design your itinerary, between 150 and 700kms.
The idea is to gradually increase the options and cover more and more areas in the Spanish Lapland.
I’ve divided the route into different sections, identified with different colours:
SIERRA DE ALBARRACÍN
137km – 2950m+
Teruel – Nacimiento del Tajo
116km – 1690m+
Nacimiento del Tajo – Zaorejas
SERRANÍA DE CUENCA
140km – 2150m+
Zaorejas – Laguna del Marquesado
130km – 3020m+
Laguna del Marquesado – La Puebla de Valverde
160km – 3100m+
La Puebla de Valverde – Teruel
TOTAL: 680kms – 12910m+
And about the shortcuts or «atajos«:
L1: ATAJO CUBILLO
22km – 378m+
L2: ATAJO LOS CASTILLOS
Zaorejas – Teruel
165km – 2048m+
L3: ATAJO TABERNILLAS
Alobras – Teruel
55kms – 710m+
L4: ATAJO VÍA VERDE
La Puebla de Valverde – Teruel
28km – 160m+
L5: ATAJO OREA
Orihuela del Tremedal – Checa
13km – 100m+
ROUTE GUIDE AND GPS FILES
If you haven’t run away and you are still interested in coming to ride the route, you will find all the details, information, and recommendations in the Guide PDF. In the download area you can get the Guide, and updated tracks and waypoints.
If you are looking for a route on quiet rural roads, with almost no traffic, here you have a version of the MontañasVacías loop, 100% asphalt.
And if you are looking for something extra, or more affordable routes, you can find what you are looking for in the «Other Routes» section.