Cap de Creus mountain biking – Everything you need to know

During a mountain bike holiday in Spain, you don´t just want to discover the awesome trails but also enjoy what this beautiful country has to offer, right? Well, if there is any place in Spain that combines good trails with even more stunning views, it is Cap de Creus. This national park is situated between the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean Sea, offering scenic views of both land and sea. After a beautiful day of riding the incredible trails in Cap de Creus, you can end your adventure in style with a cold drink at a chiringuito. The Cap de Creus area unites solid mountain bike opportunities with the ultimate ‘Spanish holiday day feeling’ in the best way possible.

Can´t wait to explore Cap de Creus? In this post I will prepare you for a day (or days) of exploring one of the most scenic mountain bike routes in Spain. I will discuss the best trails to take around Cap de Creus, what to look out for and when not to go mountain biking around Cap de Creus. With this information you will be all set to venture into the beautiful Cap de Creus National Park.

Mountain biking in Cap de Creus
– Sunset scenic views in Cap de Creus –

About Cap de Creus

The Natural Park of Cap the Creus is located at the easternmost point of mainland Spain. The coastline here is comprised of breath-taking cliffs, hidden coves and spectacular bays. The central village of this area is Cadaqués. A charismatic Spanish town on the seafront that served as inspiration for Salvador Dali. It is also together with Roses and El Port de La Selva one of the gateway villages into the Cap de Creus National Park. In the park you will find a large variety of trails with ranging difficulty levels and with great options for both cross country as well as enduro biking.

Cap de Creus is a protected area with a large diversity of habitats, botanical variety and many species of birds such as the Bonelli´s eagle. As a result of both the mineral richness and the climate, this area exhibits some of the world´s most astonishing examples of shear zones and mylonitic rocks in schistose landscape. Thanks to the presence of the tramontana, a north wind that can reach speeds of over 150km/h, unique geographical compositions have formed in this area. This in combination with the scenic views and awesome trails makes Cap de Creus such an interesting mountain bike location.

However, this wind is also something to look out for before deciding to go biking at Cap de Creus. For example, I had a perfect day on Wednesday with no wind and an entirely still Mediterranean Sea while on Thursday there were strong gasps of up to 90 km/h. Therefore, always check the weather report before planning your trip into Cap de Creus.

The best trails for mountain biking in Cap de Creus

The National Park of Cap de Creus is way to big to cover in one or even two days. If you are only here for a day or two, it is best to choose one of the main areas in Cap de Creus. Roughly speaking, you can divide this natural park into the following three areas with each their own character and highlights.

Between Roses and Cadaqués (south-east): the best area for enduro riding

In my opinion the area between Roses and Cadaqués offers the best combination of awesome views and great opportunities for enduro riding. Here you will find plenty of altitude drops, nice ridge lines, traversing trails and even trails ending in a cove. While descending, it can be difficult to keep your eyes on the road due to the spectacular views of the massive cliffs and blue bays. The trails around this area vary between blue, red and black trails that all offer everything you hope for during an enduro ride near the coast.

In this area I recommend following Abelljes, a 1,8 kilometer blue line with 263 meter vertical drop and amazing views. Also don´t miss out on Torre de Norfeu, a short 622 meter long blue line with a 105 meter vertical drop. It is a steep climb and ascent with sometimes the need for some hike & bike. However, the stunning views from the Torre de Norfeu (old military tower) make both the ascent and descent worthwhile.

Cap de Creus lighthouse trail
– The lighthouse trail with Cadaqués in the background –

Another great option in the area is the trail Lighthouse Cala Nans. This is a 1,2 kilometer long trail with a 92 meter vertical drop. Don’t let the fact that this trail is marked red put you off, this is only because of the last drop. The rest of this trail can be considered blue with even some green parts. The trail is a little bit difficult to find as it´s a narrow trail leaving from the pista in between the bushes. The trail starts off with a traversing route along the cliffs accompanied by beautiful views. As the last part of this trip is walkable, there is absolutely no reason not to include this rewarding trail into your ride plan.

Between Cadaqués and  El Port de La Selva (north-east): a cross country day out

The area between Cadaqués and El Port de La Selva offers a more mellow trail network with some altitude differences. This area is a great option for a cross country day out exploring the beautiful area and the many coves. Some of the trails around here use a section of the GR-11 Trans-Pyrenees walking path. Some trails start at the Far de Cap de Creus lighthouse. Here you will find a restaurant for a quick snack or drink while enjoying the amazing views over the Mediterranean.  

Between El Port de la Selva and Vilajuïga/ Pau (west): the place to push yourself to the limits

The area between El Port de la Selva and Vilajuïga/Pau is located a bit further away from the sea but has plenty to offer such as various cultural sites along the route. You will mostly find red and black trails around this area, starting from the astonishing Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes. When you are in this area, check out the highest point: Castell de Sant Salvador de Verdera. After a few minutes of hike & bike you get to enjoy the best panoramic views of the peninsula and the Pyrenees. The paved road (GIP-6041) between El Port de la Selva and Vilajuïga is a perfect access road that is not too steep and offers plenty of nice views. However, during the weekends and holidays this road can get pretty crowded with cars.

If you really want to test out your skills, I recommend to descent the trail that starts here and finishes at La Selva de Mar. In this area there are not many routes at Trailforks with the exception of for example a black trail called Sabretooth Beaver. In my opinion this is on average a red trail with several black features. The trail features a long and technical descent with several longer shoots. Near the parking of Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes you will find a steep downhill trail into La Selva de Mar. I would only recommend this trail if you are comfortable riding a predominantly black trail from top to bottom.  If you manage please let me know and I’ll take my hat off for you ;-).  

Mountain bike at Cap de Creus

My advice on mountain biking in Cap de Creus

  1. Check the weather forecast (especially for the tramontana
  2. Avoid warm summer days. There are almost no trees and the trails will be too dry to have a nice ride (too many loose rocks)
  3. Bring plenty of water or stop at some of the Chiringuitos along the way or in Cadaqués to refill
  4. If you only have a day of riding: plan trails descending toward the sea, it provides the best scenic views
  5. Include one of the many chiringuitos (beach bars) in the beautiful bays such as:
    1. Chiringuito La Pelosa
    2. Restaurante Cala Joncols
    3. Chiringuito Cala Montjoi
  6. If you have multiple days: you can include the descent near the Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes. The trails here are really nice but a bit further out and less scenic. However, the  Monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes is one of the most iconic buildings in the surrounding area and worth a visit.

Summary

  • Start: Roses, Cadaqués, Port de la Selva or one of the parkings inside the nature park
  • Distance to start of trails (start of climb): 0 to 500 meters
  • Vertical drop of trails: 100 meters to 400 meters
  • Surface: mainly dry & slightly rocky terrain, but nothing too crazy. Vegetation is mostly dry (pointy) bushes. There are maybe 1 or 2 semi forest trails
  • Relevant high points are Sant Salvador Saverdera (682m), Puig Alt (488m), Puig dels Bufadors (431)
  • Most access trails are pistas, (fire roads /double track) and some sections are single trail
  • Cap de Creus is easily reachable thanks to Barcelona Airport and Girona- Costa Brava airport
  • Trailforks link: https://www.trailforks.com/region/cap-de-creus-42375/

View at the Mediterranean from the Torre de Norfeu
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