We are lucky to have some great hill and trail routes from the front door. It’s one of the things that I like about living by the sea in this part of northern Spain. You’ve got so much choice of what to do without having to actually “go” anywhere. Casa Cal Domino is located on the coast at the foot of the Gavarres massif, a 38,000 Ha protected stretch of coastal hills situated between the Mediterranean Sea and Girona. It’s not often that we feel the need to venture much past what we have on our own doorstep, but one of the exceptions and one of our favourite MB (and hiking) trips away from the Villa is a visit to the Collsacabra mountains. The circular route today takes us around the panta (reservoir in Catalan) de Susqueda and the panta de Sau stopping off for lunch in the chocolate-box mountain village of Rupit and enjoy a very reasonable “menu del dia”, a three course meal with bread, wine, water, service and tax all for between €10 and €15. Welcome to Spain !
The Collsacabra mountains are part of the Catalan Transversal Range and cover an area of 142km2 encompassing the Vic plane, Sau valley, Les Guilleries, the Val d’En Bas and La Serra de la Cabrera which are all great hiking and mountain biking locations. This area provides some of the most iconic and easily recognisable geological rock formations that make up the scenic backdrop for the city of Girona.
It takes about 45 minutes to get there by car. Firstly, head towards the “village” of Pasteral (all 3 houses of it) situated on the C63 between Anglès and Amer just to the north of Girona. Take a left at the wier and follow the country tarmac road a few kilometers until you get to the dam at Susqueda and park up. This route is about 50km or so of gentle climbs along mainly well maintained trails and disused roads and will take approximately 5 hours plus lunch stop. There’s nothing technically difficult about this ride and it is suitable for all levels.
Once on the bikes, head to the left of the reservoir along narrow leafy trails that snake around the lake shore then gently climb up towards the panta de Sau, the next reservoir along situated at the base of the Rupit and Tavertet cliffs (cingles in Catalan).
As you climb, the track changes from a shady woodland track to disused road as you join the old Susqueda to Sau trail. We find that it’s best to do this route in the morning as the lakes can attract some pretty meaty thunderstorms in the afternoons, especially in the middle of high summer. It’s also best to do this route in the spring and autumn as it can get quite warm in the interior during July and August. Whenever you do it, take sufficient water with you as there are no springs or fonts on the way.
Once you get past the dam at Sau you can explore the shoreline by the cingles de Tavertet or cool down at the hotel restaurant at La Riba. They have a shaded grassy area outside with a few tables and chairs where you can have a drink before the main climb up to Rupit which will take about an hour or so plus photo stops.
Just before you get to Rupit, watch out for the signs to the Salt de Sallent waterfall on the right. It’s well worth a short detour of a few hundred meters to see the biggest waterfall in Catalunya. This sign post is also important, as a few hundred meters before it, you will find a small track on the right which is your route back following a circluar path to the other side of the dam at Susqueda. You can see the whole route here on Strava.
Once you’ve explored the waterfall, return to the main road and continue the short distance to Rupit and find a little restaurant to settle down in for lunch. Rupit is a pretty little “sleepy” mountain village that turns into a total monster with all the tourists during the summer months. To be honest, during July and August, you’re better off avoiding the village altogether. Out of season, you’ll find a few small family-owned restaurants to choose from and you shouldn’t have to wait long (if at all) to find a seat. Regardless of the time of year, it’s pretty hard to turn down an ice cold beer (or two).
After the beer stop, return to the Salt de Sallent and find the track on the left that takes you back down to the Panta de Susqueda. You’ll make your way down to the lakeside trails and continue skirting the lake in a clockwise direction until you find yourself back at the dam at Susqueda.