Routes to know the Piedra monastery, Aragon’s water paradise

Zaragoza has many unknown jewels, among them the most emblematic patrimonial and natural complex of Aragon: the Piedra monastery. It is considered a natural paradise with a great cultural and natural value. This spectacular monument is the epicenter to know the region of Calatayud through one of its many hiking trails. A key point of reference to explore the area and know the main attractions of the area, from spas, gorges to impressive waterfalls.

Tour of the Piedra monastery Natural Park: a water paradise

Cola de Caballo waterfall

Cola de Caballo waterfall | Shutterstock

The Piedra monastery, in Ordesa, belongs to the Natura 2000 Network thanks to the numerous hiking trails it offers. It is one of the main natural attractions in the interior of Spain and during the visit to the Natural Park it is possible to take a simple trail to discover its hidden gems: waterfalls, lakes, fascinating flora and fauna.

The difficulty of this route is low, suitable for all kinds of people, both children and pets. The complete tour lasts approximately two to three hours. It costs 16 € per person. It is worth visiting at any time of the year, although especially in autumn and spring, since the river has more water.

The tour begins at Lago de los Patos, an area full of vegetation and where the first waterfalls are located: Baño de Diana and La Caprichosa waterfall, one of the most beautiful in the park. A few meters ahead is the Trinidad waterfall, a true natural spectacle, since the water falls surrounding its large rocks. Undoubtedly, one of the best whims of nature.

Cola Caballo waterfall

Cave inside the Cola Caballo waterfall | Shutterstock

Continuing the route is the bridge of the Piedra River, a place worth photographing, until you reach the Cascadas de Los Fresnos Altos y Bajos. Almost at the starting point, you will find the most important waterfall of the route. This is the Cola de Caballo, an imposing waterfall with more than 50 meters high. The last part of the tour is done by going down several stairs, through passages and small tunnels in the rocks. The most surprising thing about this part of the route is that there are numerous windows where you can see how the water falls from the waterfalls.

A route that leads right inside the Cola de Caballo waterfall, seeing the waterfall from the inside. From here you can access the interior of the cave with lighting to reach the lower part of the waterfall. A unique sensory experience.

Crossing this part you reach the Mirror Lake, a place so quiet that even the water does not move. Such is its silence that it is most enigmatic. It is time to cross the wooden walkways that cross the lake and the canyon to reach the picnic area to reach the end point of the hiking route of the Piedra monastery.

Route through the gorges of the Mesa river: imposing gorges in the surroundings of the monastery

Mesa river

Gorges of the Mesa river, Aragon | Shutterstock

The enclave of the gorges of the river Mesa is one of the most impressive places to visit in the surroundings of the Piedra monastery. Up to 7 kilometers of gorges, in the municipalities of Calmarza and Jaraba, which have been declared Tourist Interest of Aragon. This route can be done by bicycle or on foot, although it is also possible to travel by car. It starts in the charming village of Calmarza. It stands out for its waterfall and for being the part with the highest canyons of the route. After this, it is time to go up the Barranco de los Hocinillos, ideal for contemplating the plant species of the area.

Hoces del río Mesa

Birds of prey in the Hoces del río Mesa | Shutterstock

Then, when accessing the Hoz Seca barranco, the vegetation is scarce, but it is possible to observe birds of prey and griffon vultures until you reach the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Jaraba and the viewpoint with the best panoramic views of the canyon. This is the most popular point of the route, here there is a path to walk around the area with a duration of two hours, ideal to do it the next day and very well signposted.

After this we arrive at the last waterfall of the Mesa River, located before reaching the village of Ibdes, known as La paradera. It has a picnic area with impressive waterfalls. To put the finishing touch to the route, it is worth stopping at the viewpoints of the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de San Daniel and the viewpoint of La Tranquera. The route ends at the Piedra monastery, a perfect place to sleep.

From the Piedra monastery to the Valdefierro Salt Flats

Tranquera Reservoir

Tranquera Reservoir. | Shutterstock

The routes of the Piedra monastery and the gorges of the river Mesa are the best known in the area, but from the Natural Park you can take another trail that allows you to learn about the flora and fauna of the area. From Nuévalos, next to the cemetery, there is a trail that crosses a wetland area originating next to the mouth of the Ortiz River in the Tranquera reservoir. The track ends in a path that borders the reservoir, along which you must continue until you leave it on a path to the right.

This runs through a beautiful wooded area to the Portillejo pass, a viewpoint that offers fascinating views of the reservoir. The route continues through a pine forest of reprobation until it reaches a track where you must turn right until you reach Portil de la Villa and continue along the path of the Salinas. The last part is completed with the arrival at the Salinas de Valdefierro, in operation until recently and in a perfect state of conservation. It is possible to visit the stone ponds where the salt was obtained. The return is made by the same route in the opposite direction.

The surroundings of the Piedra monastery is a real natural jewel, full of waterfalls, lakes and typical vegetation of the area. From the Natural Park to its surroundings, one of the main tourist attractions of Aragon.

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