By Dan Blystone
The Parc de Collserola spans 8,000 hectares of protected land covering the range of small mountains (Serra de Collserola) between the Besòs and Llobregat rivers. Within the park a forest of white pines and evergreen oaks is home to a wide variety of species including wild boars and genets. At the crest, the Carretera de les Aigües offers uplifting views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean sea on one side and the Vallès plain on the other.
Collserola is the largest metropolitan park in the world, 8 times larger than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and 22 times larger than Central Park in New York. Living in Barcelona, this expanse of unspoiled nature is just a short metro ride away. Here are 9 hiking routes to help you make the most of the Parc de Collserola and beyond.
1. Barcelona to Sant Cugat (GR 6)
El Pi d’en Xandri
The hike from Barcelona to Sant Cugat begins on the GR 6 trail beside the Parc del Laberint d’Horta. The path reveals the Ermita De Sant Medir dating from the 11th century and the the Forn Ibèric, a relic from the second century BC. Before reaching Sant Cugat, hikers are greeted by El Pi d’en Xandri, a monumental pine tree over 230 years old and 23 meters high.
Start: Mundet Metro
Finish: Sant Cugat FCG Station
Time: 3 hours 25 minutes
2. Vallvidrera to La Floresta (GR 96)
Pantà de Vallvidrera
This hike begins in the Vallvidrera neighborhood which features attractive modernist houses and brushes up against Collserola. After a short walk into the park you reach the Vallvidrera reservoir, pictured above. The reservoir provided the old town of Sarrià with drinking water until the end of the 19th century. From there the GR 96 trail leads to La Floresta with views of Montserrat along the way. More information and photos of the hike here.
Start: Vallvidrera Superior Station (FGC)
Finish: La Floresta Station (FCG)
Time: 2 hours 4 minutes
3. Can Masdeu to Torre Barro
This hike begins in the district of Canyelles. After a short distance into the trail you reach Can Masdeu (pictured above); a famous squatted social center, residence and community garden. The path continues to rise into the Serra de Collserola, with sweeping views of Barcelona from the crest of the hills. The route also passes Torre Baró, an unfinished hotel from the early twentieth century in the Nou Barris district of Barcelona. See more photos of the hike here.
Start: Canyelles Metro (L3)
Finish: Roquetes Metro (L3)
Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
4. Baixador de Vallvidrera to Tibidabo
Tibidabo Amusement Park
Baixador de Vallvidrera station drops you off right at an entrance to Collserola park. The path leads past Museu-Casa Verdaguer, dedicated to the Catalan writer Jacint Verdaguer. This hike leads to Tibidabo from behind, with attractive views of forest and the back of the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor. For more photos of this hike, click here.
Start: Baixador de Vallvidrera (FGC)
Time: 1 hour 11 minutes
5. Sant Jeroni de La Murtra and Puig Castellar
Sant Jeroni de La Murtra
Being to the north of the Besòs river, this hike is just beyond Colserolla, in the Sierra de Marina park. The route takes you past two sites of historic interest. The monastery of Sant Jeroni de la Murtra was built in the Gothic style at the beginning of the fifteenth century. After King Ferdinand II of Aragon was wounded by an assasination attempt in 1492 on the steps of the Royal Palace of Barcelona, he spent a few days recovering in the monastery with his wife Isabel of Castile. Sant Jeroni de La Murtra was also the setting where Catholic Monarchs received Christopher Columbus in April 1493 after returning from his first voyage to America.
Remains of the Iberian Settlement of Puig Castellar are located nearby, at a peak of the Serralada de Marina Park, 303m above sea level. The site belonged to the Laietani tribe, who lived there from the 4th century BC to the beginning of the 2nd century BC. Historians believe that the settlement was abandoned because of the Second Punic War. For more photos of this hike click here.
Start: Singuerlín (L9N)
Finish: Singuerlín (L9N)
Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
6. Trinitat Nova to Vallvidrera
This hike starts out at Trinitat Nova metro, which is the end of both the green (L3) and yellow (L4) lines. After a short hike into the hills the trail overlooks the Besòs river, marking the northern border of Barcelona. The path continues along the crest of Collserola all the way to Vallvidrera, a neighborhood in the Sarrià-Sant Gervasi district of Barcelona. The hike ends in front of Vallvidrera superior station, where you can take the funicular down and then get on the train back to the city center.
Start: Trinitat Nova Metro (L3, L4)
Finish: Vallvidrera Funicular
Time: 3 hours
7. Baixador de Vallvidrera to Sant Cugat
La Font d’en Ribas
This hike begins at Baixador de Vallvidrera station which can be reached on the S1 and S2 trains (you only need a zone 1 metro ticket). The trail goes by the old Casino of Rabassada, the Font d’en Ribas, the hermitage of Sant Medir and some of the most gorgeous scenery of Collserola.
Start: Baixador de Vallvidrera
Finish: Sant Cugat
Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
8. Vallvidrera to Sant Pere Mártir
Deep in the woods
This hike explores the southern part of Collserola park, passing by Font de Can LLevallol. After lengthy forest trails the hike finishes along the crest of the hill overlooking the city.
Start: Vallvidrera Superior
Finish: Vallvidrera Superior
Time: 2 hours
9. Les Planes to Can Calopa de Dalt to Vallvidrera
Vineyards of Can Calopa de Dalt
Most people don’t know there is a vineyard deep in Collserola Park. The 16th century farmhouse of Can Calopa de Dalt overlooks vineyards with the Cathedral of Sagrat Cor in the far distance. Part of L’Olivera Cooperativa, Can Capola makes quality wines and helps people with disabilities integrate in society with housing, training and work opportunities.
Start: Les Planes
Time: 4 hours