In the farthest reaches of Zamora, between Portugal and Galicia, lies the largest lake in Spain and the largest lake of glacial origin in Europe – Lake Sanabria. More than 100,000 years ago, a 20-kilometre (12 mi) long glacier carved through the rock with incredible force and transformed the area forever.
This lake holds many treasures in its 53-metre (174 m ft) depth. Its waters are teeming with life and diverse flora and fauna thrives in the submerged canyons. The lake is also a good example of sustainable tourism, with campsites, recreational beaches and accommodation.
The Alta Sanabria was shaped by the Ice Age – canyons, huge moraines, wetlands and peat bogs make up the landscape. In between, the Tera, Cárdena and Segundera rivers flow. There are lots of streams and springs too.
In this Collection, I suggest a 90-kilometre (56 mi) mountain bike ride. It crosses wonderful valleys and plateaus, canyons, riverbanks, peaks, wetlands, forests and the alpine meadows of the Alta Sanabria region. I’ve divided the route into two stages that allow you to enjoy the natural beauty here. Humans haven’t left much of a mark here outside of the towns.
You only ride 8 kilometres (5 mi) on asphalt, with 37 kilometres (23 mi) on single track. This is a true mountain bike adventure. On narrow trails, you ride through enchanting oak forests, green corridors between granite boulders, meadows with old shepherd's huts, small wetlands and high alpine plateaus.
In terms of altitude, you ride between 1,000 and 2,000 metres (3,280 and 6,560 ft). The alpine area is remote so make sure you prepare accordingly with suitable clothing and supplies. The stages aren’t long, but they’re far from civilisation so bring plenty of water, food, tools and basic spare parts.
In terms of clothing, pack several layers to regulate your temperatures at different altitudes. Don’t forget to pack your swim stuff if you come in summer. The area has many pools and lakes where you can take a plunge.
I recommend undertaking this journey from late spring until early autumn. Summer is not particularly hot in this area and the greenery is spectacular. On the other hand, if you find some mild autumn days, you’ll ride through colourful landscapes.
To enjoy the trails of Alta Sanabria, a 29-inch wheel and front suspension bike is ideal. Although some sections are narrow, they’re not technically difficult. However, good tyres are essential to avoid any punctures and have decent grip on the trails.
The route starts in San Martín de Castañeda, a town with a wide range of tourist services. It has no public transport connections, so you’ll have to arrive by car. The first stage ends in Porto, which has several bars and a rural guest house that’s worth booking in advance.
I hope you enjoy these two days in the glacial paradise of Alta Sanabria.
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: March 15, 2023
Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.
The first is the shorter of the two stages. There are almost 36 kilometers in which you ascend about 1000 meters. The Route begins almost at the mouth of Lake Sanabria and, as soon as you start, you receive the gift of wonderful views of the Tera River. The first section takes you to ride along the edge…
Today a very demanding route awaits you. You must climb no less than 1400 meters in just over 55 kilometers. The challenge is not only due to the number of meters of ascent, but also because it has a good initial stretch along the path and ramps that, in some cases, border on a 30% incline. In addition…
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