The first time you go on a route to an hidden area of the mountain and discover an abandoned town, where the roofs of the houses have already fallen a long time ago, you realize that life does not give truce and that it is too short to watch it happen. It is much better to ride it in company!

That happened to me years ago when I traveled to the depths of Sobrepuerto, a natural border between the Aragonese valleys of Tena and Sobrarbe, in search of the “famous” town of Ainielle. I had just read book The Yellow Rain, and I wanted to discover the places where Andrés, the last inhabitant of that depopulated town of the Aragonese Pyrenees, had spent his last days in absolute solitude. This novel was one of those that inspired the creation of Montañas Vacias.

Montañas Vacías (MV) is a gift, an altruistic proposal of a cyclist named Ernesto, based in Teruel capital. At a time when the promotion of sports and tourism activities is closely linked to the pursuit of personal profit, self-managed and hopeful projects such as MV arise, whose aims are to share experiences, raise awareness about the terrible problem of depopulation of our rural environment , and encourage a trip to an area where “nobody goes”, or as Ernesto calls it: “The Spanish Lapland”. And it is that along the almost 700km of route the population density is 7 inhabitants per square kilometer. The lowest in Europe!

On its website we can find all the information about the trip: the itinerary divided into several stages and shortcuts to make shorter circulars, very useful tips, a contact in case you have any questions or proposals and a link to download the guide and tracks of GPS, and also very interesting information about the collaboration that MV does with the Autismo Teruel association. Everything is super well explained and detailed.

It is noted that behind this website there have been many hours of work and enthusiasm to create something humble as well as complete, and that it will soon become huge.

¿What are you waiting for, are you ready for Montañas Vacías?

Well, now we are on February and “the yellow rain” of the autumn leaves has given way to a blanket of brown tones, crushed by the winter snows. We decided to try MV at this time so not recommended because, if it is an uninhabited area, in winter it should be the time of the year when fewer people were passing through or living there.

And so it was, in the fields and forests there were hardly any people working, and as we passed through the small towns, no neighbors appeared on the streets (they migth be at home next to the stoves). Nor did we see a single cycloturist in the almost six days of the route we pedaled. In fact we saw 4 counted cyclists riding throughout our trip. Something really strange, and interesting at the same time. What we did see was an immensity of trees: pine and oak forests merged with those of junipers and yews creating very diverse landscapes every few kilometers. All this added to the thousand shades of colors that the land was acquiring with the passage of the mountains, going from the most vivid red, light beige or dark brown, black. A true chromatic party! And we cannot ignore the herds of mountain goats, roe deers, fallow deers and deers that we found in many points of the route. All of them are the trully main characters of the MV trip.

Well, with this article we did not try to explain the route in detail. We already did that on the Ciclofactoría social networks, and in the 100 videos that are saved in the outstanding stories of our Instagram account. Although in the end we briefly explain the route of each stage, in case you are interested.

Rather, it is about, in one hand, recognizing Ernesto’s work as a catalyst for bikepacking cycloturism through these lands, and on the other, encouraging you to travel in almost any format along the 700km of MV, which are already waiting for you.
Oh and finally only two advices: do it in spring and autumn, and better by mountain bike than gravel (if you can choose).
¡¡¡¡Long live to Montañas Vacias!!!!

Stage 1: Teruel, Plaza del Torico – Laguna de Bezas – Albarracín – Noguera (stop at bar Lucevi) – Griegos – Nacimiento del Tajo – Refugio forestal libre: Track GPS 1/6

Stage 2: Refugio forestal – Camino natural del Tajo – Checa (stop at bar El Puente, in front of the supermarket) – Peralejos de las truchas – Zaorejas (stop at bar Salmerón, preguntar por Gema) – Refugio libre de Valsalobre: Track GPS 2/6

Stage 3: Valsalobre – Beteta – Sta María del Val (stop at petrol station shop) – Tragacete (stop at bar La Gaditana) – Beamud – Laguna del Marquesado – Zafrilla (stop at bar Papi, and sleep at the covered door of the church ): Track GPS 3/6

Stage 4: Zafrilla – Alobras – El Cuervo (stop at the bar of the road) – Torrebaja – Pico Javalambre – Refugio guardado Rabadá y Navarro (reserves online on their web site): Track GPS 4/6

Stage 5: Refu Rabadá y Navarro – La Puebla de Valverde – Rubielos de Mora (stop at the supermarket on the road) – Valdelinares – Pico Peñaroya  – Refugio libre de La Chaparrilla: Track GPS 5/6

Stage 6: Refu de la Chaparrilla – Alcalá de la Selva (stop at bar Corella, opnes at 9am) – Cabra de Mora – Formiche bajo – Teruel: Track GPS 6/6

Our trip consisted of 5 full days from sun rise to sun set and a sixth day to arrive at lunchtime in Teruel and have plenty of time to return home calmly.

Some personal shortcuts by road, such as skipping the coll of Bronchales, going down the Jucar river from Tragacete to Beamud, or the fifth stage all by road differs from the original MV route.

We recomend 100%  all the bars where we stop and all the places where we sleep, even Zafrilla church.

¡Thanks again to Ernesto MV and all those who helped us during the route!