The Pradillo reservoir, the sky in a lake

‘I spent a lot of time in this city looking for the sky in the ponds’. This phrase of the Spanish music band Dorian is perhaps the best description that can be made of the Pradillo reservoir, located on the outskirts of Rascafría. The still waters of this Weekend Getaway reflect the clouds in the sky, the color of the trees and the peaks of the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama. As if it were a mirror, the reflection found in this small corner of the Community of Madrid will surely leave the traveler speechless. A postcard that urbanites might think it is impossible that it is so close to the capital.

Pradillo reservoir

Waterfall of the Pradillo reservoir. | Shutterstock

A bit of history of the Pradillo reservoir

This corner, typical of a romantic scene from a movie of the Middle Ages, is located a few kilometers from the village of Rascafría, northwest of the Community of Madrid. Specifically, in the valley of Lozoya, within the Sierra de Guadarrama and the natural park of Peñalara. There is a little corner known as La Isla, a parking lot next to a couple of restaurants and very, very close, the reservoir.

The Pradillo reservoir was built in the 40s with the intention of serving as a source of electricity to the town of Rascafría. At the present time it retains the waters of the Angostura stream, coming in turn from many other streams. One of the sources of these icy waters is the lagoon of the Birds, goal of one of the famous routes of Peñalara. Once past the reservoir, whose waters cause a jump that falls to a lower floor forming a series of waterfalls, the river course is supplied by two other streams, the Umbría and Aguilón. At the junction of all these streams is where the Lozoya River officially begins, the main supplier of drinking water in the province of Madrid.

Pradillo reservoir

Trail in the surroundings of the Pradillo reservoir. | EG

The keys of the Pradillo reservoir

There are two ways to reach the Pradillo reservoir. The first and easiest is to leave the car in the parking lot La Isla. From there the way to the reservoir is easy and fast. Little more than half a kilometer separates the parking from the enclave which can be accessed from both banks. On the right side, without crossing the bridge, you will get great views of the waterfall. Meanwhile, a little further up, the reservoir and the pine forest provide the panoramic view. By contrast, on the left side, which is accessed by crossing a small bridge from the parking lot, the views of the waterfalls are not so good, but those of the reservoir are indescribable. It is best to get the image from both sides.

On the same Pradillo reservoir, on its right side, is the Angostura bridge route, a path that can be extended between 6 and 11 kilometers (depending on whether you choose the short or long option) and that ends at the same starting point. In both cases it is an easy trail that runs along a pine forest dotted with other species, such as oaks. The R.V.1 markers, colored yellow and green, indicate the path.

Pradillo reservoir

Pradillo reservoir in autumn. | EG

The only disadvantage of the Pradillo reservoir is that the parking lot fills up quickly, since, besides being small, the restaurants save places for their customers. In this case, the option to take is that the reservoir is the end of the route and not the starting point. That is, you can reach this Weekend Getaway leaving the car in the area of the monastery of El Paular or in Rascafría itself. In this case the route can be extended to about 14 kilometers round trip.

Places near the Pradillo reservoir

Although the Pradillo reservoir is a place of immeasurable beauty, the surrounding enclaves are no less so. In Rascafría the main tourist attraction is the monastery of El Paular, declared of Cultural Interest and considered a National Historic and Artistic Monument. In front of this building is located the bridge of Forgiveness, whose history is very curious. The convicts could ask for forgiveness here. If clemency was granted, they could return home safe and sound. If not, the bailiffs led them to the Casa de la Horca, where they were executed.

Monastery El Paular

Monastery of El Paular. | EG

In the same area where the monastery of El Paular is located, there is another beautiful natural area, on the other side of the bridge of El Perdón. It is a fairytale forest known as the Finnish forest. Here, a wide path stretches between tall trees, among which dwell birches, poplars, holly and yews. Inside, the jewel in the crown: a small jetty that overlooks a pond and is the image that puts a face to the grove.

But if there is something to do around the Pradillo reservoir are routes. The Purgatory is the most famous and leaves from the same point as the road to the Finnish forest, from the monastery of El Paular. The trail, between round trip, is 14 kilometers long and does not present great difficulty. There are more routes in the area of Peñalara, where you can climb to its summit or go to the Laguna Grande or Laguna de los Pájaros. Whatever the option, the icing on the cake is a last stop in the village of Rascafría to regain strength.


Jetty in the Finnish forest. | EG

A natural enclave of extraordinary beauty

The Pradillo reservoir is a perfect place to discover close to the capital. Whatever the season, the image it presents is one of those that remain fixed in the retina. In winter the snow covers the picture of white and the waterfalls and the pond come, sometimes, to freeze. In spring the green surrounds the reservoir and the flowers become travel partners. When summer arrives, the forests dress the trails in shade and make the road more pleasant. And in autumn… In autumn the reservoir catches the ochre tones of the season in full force. The traveler went out to look for the sky in the puddles and found it in the Pradillo reservoir.

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