Few things are more characteristic of the Alcarria region than having climbed the Ocejón peak. Although it is not in the Alcarria itself, but in the Serranía, its prevalence in much of the landscape of both regions and La Campiña makes it a unifying element. As the backbone of the black towns, it offers two impressive and accessible routes to reach its 2,049 metres of altitude. Beeches, oaks and rockrose fight with the slate to attract attention in the enchanting landscape they form. A perfect weekend getaway on the triple border between Madrid, Segovia and Guadalajara itself.
The history of this mountain is the history of the people who have surrounded it throughout the ages. That is why we have to go back to the very distant prehistoric times, when the first locals captured concepts in schematic paintings such as those of the Covacho del Ocejón. A landmark in the surroundings of Valverde de los Arroyos, it is a testimony as primitive, although incomprehensible, as those highlanders who created them.
However, the towns now associated with the black towns and Ocejón Peak emerged with the repopulation of León and Castile in the 11th century. The truth is that the medieval settlers found themselves in a harsh environment. Far from everything, cornered against the Sierra de Ayllón, poorly communicated and with terrible winters. This is how it remained until the last century, however much it may surprise the visitor. In this environment, continuity was provided by the mountain that is the protagonist of the article, which in the area is even called “father”. It is not in vain that it is isolated from the rest of the mountain ranges, standing and watching over the rest like a real father figure.
Being in the middle of everything in this area of the Sierra Norte of Guadalajara also has its disadvantages. The main one is that it still isolates the towns on its eastern and western slopes. For this reason, although there are only a few kilometres on the map between Valverde de los Arroyos and Majaelrayo, it is still a long way round. An anecdote that explains why a mule has been superior to a car in this corner until recently.
Precisely the dividing character of this mountain gives the keys to its visit. There are two main variants that ascend to the summit of the Ocejón peak. One starts in the west, from Majaelrayo, and covers just over 13 kilometres. The key to not suffering is to go up like an old man and come down like a young man. This alternative entails a placid start, crossing a beautiful stream and with first-class oak groves. Afterwards, demanding slopes lead to the Hervidero pass.
The other route starts in Valverde de los Arroyos and is somewhat longer. The start is more demanding but the overall route is easier. On the way you can see the Despeñalagua waterfall with a drop of more than 100 metres. The climb is accompanied by streams that honour the starting point of the route. The junction point between the two variants is near the Hervidero and Perdices passes. A slight rest that only anticipates the final ascent. On the way you can stop at the Ocenjocillo, the main subsidiary of the Ocejón. They did not give it much thought. The last stretch is steep and rocky. Finally you reach the geodesic point by crossing an elevation point.
Both options are equally recommendable when there is no snow as when there is. From the top, on a clear day, the landscape is breathtaking. This led to a legend, that of the three sons. In short, a father gets angry with his sons for fighting, curses them to stop and they end up as mountains. The eldest became the Moncayo, between Soria and Zaragoza. In Guadalajara, the middle one, the Ocejón, and the small one, the Alto Rey. Here the locals did use their imagination.
Depending on whether you spend the night on one side or the other of the Ocejón, there are different options for extending your getaway. It is worth noting that if you are coming from the south, it is usually better to go via Guadalajara. On the other hand, from the Riaza area, which is better connected to the A-1, it may be better to go through Ayllón from the north. The easiest thing to do is to listen to the navigator and not be an explorer.
To the east stands the aforementioned Valverde de los Arroyos, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. The black architecture is the key and can be seen in the dark, sometimes ochre, but always bright, tones of the buildings. The success of tourism can be seen in the refurbishment of the entire old town. The nearby Umbralejo, one of our Revenant Villages, has also been restored. It is the capital of a ministerial project whereby young people restore it year after year. In terms of nature, the aforementioned Despeñalagua waterfall and the Tejera Negra beech forest are a must.
If you look to the west, you will also find plenty to see. Ravines everywhere hide charming routes between towns such as Campillo de Ranas, Majaelrayo, Roblelacasa and Robleluengo. Yes, there are plenty of oak trees in the area. As well as marvelling at the western black towns, you can also marvel at several natural spots. The Chinese wall of Guadalajara, a huge stone wall not to be confused with its namesake at Mont-Rebei, on the border between Huesca and Lleida. As you look at it, there are probably vultures hanging around. No problem, they are charming and can best be seen from the nearby Solárium del Buitre. Finally, the Pozas del Aljibe are one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Spain. Three comfortable kilometres separate them from Roblelacasa.
Referent, legend, father even for some locals. The Ocejón is a symbol of Guadalajara. It could be said that climbing it validates half an Alcarreño’s ID. Surrounded by beech and oak forests, great peaks and dreamy villages, it preserves the essence of a past marked by the arid climate and local conditions. Affordable, the ascent to this mountain is a route that any hiking lover should have on their bucket list.
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