Cycling in Alicante - Puerto de la Carrasqueta

Looking towards the Mediterranean Sea and Alicante from la Carrasqueta

La Carrasqueta is 12 kilometre climb lying just inland from the city of Alicante

The spectacular climb takes us up to a natural balcony at @1020 m.a.s.l. overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the city of Alicante, some 40 kilometres away.

Puerto de la Carrasqueta

Starting from the town of Xixona, the initial hairpins on the southern side of the @550-metre climb's gradually give way to a spectacular ascent at an average gradient of 5% offering beautiful views over the Mediterranean coast and opening up routes to the north of the province and beyond.

Location


El puerto de la Carrasqueta, Alicante, Spain
Location of el puerto de la Carrasqueta, Alicante

The summit of el puerto de la Carrasqueta is located around 40 kilometres to the north of the city of Alicante, in the comarca of Alacantí. Sitting at 1020 m.a.s.l. in the Sierra de la Carrasqueta mountain range, the pass is reached on the N-340, (denominated CV-800 as it passes through the province of Alicante) which connects the cities of Cádiz and Barcelona and is Spain's longest carretera nacional.

The climb can also be accessed from the north from the cities of Ibi and Alcoy, although this ascent is neither as physically challenging or visually exciting as the southern ascent covered in this article.

The start of the climb is in the town of Xixona (synonymous throughout a Spain as the location for a type of soft nougat known as turrón), although if we start our ride in the city of Alicante we will have already covered around @500 metres of constant ascent by the time we reach its base. This approach doesn't present any great difficulties and climbs uphill gradually through fields filled mainly with tomato crops.

A roundabout shortly after the exit from Xixona gives access to the CV-780 road, leading to the village of Torremanzanas and el puerto de Benifallim (or puerto del Rentonar), which crosses the Sierra del Rentonar in parallel to the Sierra de la Carrasqueta via the village of Torremanzanas and the CV-780 road.

The combination of its length, straight stretches and hairpins has made la Carrasqueta a very popular destination for motorcyclists, and especially at weekends. This is worth bearing in mind when choosing a day for tackling the climb.

Profile


Profile of el puerto de la Carrasqueta, Alicante, Spain
Profile of el puerto de la Carrasqueta
This article describes the southern ascent of la Carrasqueta, starting from the town of Xixona. The pass can also be climbed from the north, setting off from the roundabout at the junction of the N-340/CV-800 and A-7 roads.

At around 12 kilometres in length, depending on where we take the start, la Carrasqueta is usually classed as a 2nd-category climb, with an average gradient of around 5% and maximums of around 8% on the final hairpin around 3 kilometres before the summit.

On the whole, the gradient is fairly constant throughout, meaning that la Carrasqueta can be taken at an even, regular pace from start to finish.

Starting altitude: @520 metres
Length: @12 kilometres
Average gradient: 4.5%
Maximum gradient: 8%
Altitude gain: @500 metres
Maximum altitude: 1020 metres
Difficulty: Medium

The Climb

We've taken the start of the climb as the roundabout on the CV-800 (N-340) just north of Xixona.

Lower slopes of puerto de la Carrasqueta, Alicante, Spain
The lower slopes of la Carrasqueta rise at around 5%
Once we've left Xixona, the first kilometres of the climb are gentle and the road is in excellent condition.

The Serra de la Grana range appears to our right at the base of the climb
As we start to gain altitude, the Serra de la Grana rises up to our right, while the Sierra de la Carrasqueta and the road we will follow to the summit sits above us to our left.

The climb offers very little shade for cyclists
There is very scant tree coverage on the lower slopes of la Carrasqueta, a characteristic which should be taken into account during the summer months, and especially so given the climb's southerly orientation.

Venta Teresa, a former post house, lies a little under half-way up the climb
Around the 5km mark, and having passed the first of the climb's hairpins, we come across the only refreshment stop on the climb, Venta Teresa, a former post house dating from the 19th-century offering homemade tapas and meals and very popular with motorcyclists.

The hairpins begin once we pass Venta Teresa
Once past Venta Teresa, we begin the second half of the climb, of significantly different aspect to the first half: we now scale the flank of the Sierra de la Carrasqueta directly via a series of hairpins and straights.

The road over la Carrasqueta is generally in excellent condition
Notwithstanding the presence of other, newer, bigger roads connecting the north of the province with the city of Alicante and the Mediterranean coast, there has been much local debate about widening the road over la Carrasqueta to facilitate the journey between Xixona and Alcoy, and especially for commercial and industrial vehicles.

The current road is a @10m-wide carriageway in generally excellent condition with clear signage and reasonable hard shoulder.


The Mediterranean coast is clearly visible from the climb
As the road starts to double back on itself as it scales the Sierra, we can begin to enjoy the ever more impressive views over the countryside below and the coastline in the distance.

The popular mountains of inland Alicante are visible to our right
Meanwhile, off to our right rise the mountains of inland Alicante which are so popular with cyclists.

The gradient remains steady at around 5% as we approach the summit

There's not much to go to the finish and, as throughout the climb as a whole, the gradient stays steady at around 5%.

There really is no shade at all on this final section of the climb, and once again this is imortant to bear in mind when planning to climb la Carrasqueta, and especially so during the summer months.

The summit of Puerto de la Carrasqueta
The summit is indicated with a sign and is the setting for a new rest area that offers excellent views over the surrounding countryside and the road back down to the coast.

The summit of La Carrasqueta offers excellent views over the surrounding countryside

Michael Dixon

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