Routes in Valencia - River Turia Natural Park

Footbridge over the River Turia, Ribarroja

The River Turia Natural Park trail follows the course of the River Turia from the centre of Valencia some 35 kilometres upstream to the village of Vilamarxant in the comarca of Camp de Túria.

The route takes us from the spectacular architecture of the Santiago Calatrava's City of Arts and Sciences in the heart of Valencia to the depths of the wild countryside that borders the region's main river.


River Turia Natural Park

Starting in the very heart of the city of Valencia, the River Turia Natural Park offers a great way to get out of the city and explore the surrounding countryside in the minimum of time. This 70 km out-and-back route, which passes through various villages as it follows the course of the River Turia, is traffic-free, relatively easy and suitable for most age and abilities. 

Created in 2007, the River Turia Park (Parque natural del Turia) takes us through lush vegetation and Mediterranean forests as we remount the River Turia through the surrounding villages of Quart de Poblet, Paterna, Ribarroja and Villamarchante, the latter being the furthest point on our route. If we wish, we can carry on to the village of Pedralba, a further 10 kilometres upriver. 

Map of the River Turia Natural Park
Route of the River Turia Natural Park

The route unfolds along mainly compacted gravel/concrete tracks and has no significant climbs of which to speak*. We cross over the River Turia numerous times by means of wooden bridges, and on the whole the route shouldn't suppose any real difficulty for riders of moderate fitness. There are numerous rest areas which, together with the various villages we pass through or nearby, provide many options for alternative turnarounds for those wishing to ride a shorter route. 

Details 

Distance: 35 kilometres (each way)
Estimated duration: 2.5 hours (each way)
Difficulty: Moderate. 
Highest point: 110 m.a.s.l. 
Lowest point: 20 m.a.s.l. 

The Route

Valencia's Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias
The start of the route at Valencia's Ciudad de las artes y las ciencias

We've taken the start of the route as Valencia's Arts and Science Museum, which is located at the easterly extreme of the city's River Turia gardens.

Whilst the start of the gardens lies some 10 kilometres from the sign indicating the start proper of the trail, in reality the gardens and the trail form part of the same route, with the former having been created in the bed of the River Turia following its diversion after the catastrophic floods of 1957, which left the city under several metres of water, destroying an estimated 5,800 homes and leaving at least 81 people dead. A terrible tragedy that has entered Valencian folklore, and one which necessitated the construction of a new waterway to cope with the area's frequent torrential downpours and to avoid further flooding within the city. 

Bike path in the Turia Gardens, Valencia
Bike path in the Turia Gardens near to el Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia

Today's gardens were built in several phases over a number of years and, instead of the 4-lanes of carriageway once mooted, now accommodate landscaped sport facilities, play areas and several cafeterias

There are numerous bike paths running from one end of the pan-flat gardens to the other, making them an ideal option for travelling across the city and perfect for a ride with small children.

Bike path in the Turia Gardens, Valencia
Bike path in the Turia Gardens
Once we've set off westwards from the City of Arts and Sciences, we can take any of the paths that run along the left, the right and the centre of the gardens: there is no real way to get lost and all the paths lead to the same destination.

The River Turia Gardens in Valencia, Spain
Cycle path in the Turia Gardens

At the western end of the Turia Gardens, some 6.5 km from the City of Arts and Sciences, lies el Parque de Cabacera and the Valencia zoo, el BioParc. By riding through the park and past the zoo, we reach the Moli del Sol Police Station and the start proper of River Turia Natural Park trail. It is easy to reach by bike for those already in Valencia, and it is relatively easy to park nearby for those travelling by car.

Location of the start of the River Turia Natural Park, Valencia
Location of the start of the River Turia Natural Park

The police station is located in an ocre-coloured building at the head of an artificial lake, just opposite the start of the trail.

The location of the start of the River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
The location of the start of the River Turia Natural Park trail

The start of the trail itself is marked by a large wooden sign, and it's also worth noting the presence here of several short, yellow posts: we'll see many more along the trail, and they sometimes serve as an indication that we are on the right track in the absence of other signage.

The start of the River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
The start of the River Turia Natural Park trail
The surface of the trail here is pretty much as we will find it along the entire route: a mixture of cement and compact gravel, which while fine to ride on with wider tyres/gravel bikes/mountain bikes, it isn't really suitable for urban bikes, and certainly not for road bikes. 

Junction on River Turia Natural Park trail just before the footbridge
Junction on River Turia Natural Park trail just before the footbridge
The first couple of kilometres take us through some rather dry and dusty fields towards the current course of the River Turia.  After around 2 kilometres we emerge onto an asphalt road, where we must bear to the right and drop down to a short tunnel that leaves us at base of the footbridge that takes us over the road infrastructure that separates us from the current course of the river.

Footbridge leading to the current course of the River Turia, Valencia
Footbridge leading to the current course of the River Turia
Once over the other side, we ride parallel to the river bed for around half a kilometre, before turning left and dropping down onto the trail. The signage and the route are a bit rudimentary here, having a temporary feeling about them, but the river is down to our left and there's no real chance of getting lost.

The River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
The River Turia Natural Park trail

Once back down into the river bed, again with only limited signage, we bear round to the right and head off with the River Turia on our left.

Wooden bridge over the River Turia, Valencia
The first wooden bridge over the River Turia
No sooner are we underway that we come across a bit of a red herring in the form of the first of the many arched wooden bridges crossing the River Turia that we will come across during the ride. Inviting as it looks, this one leads to the town of Quart de Poblet; the track that we want is off to the right. 
 
Road crossing on the River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
Road crossing on the River Turia Natural Park trail
We are outside Valencia now, and wedged between the city's road infrastructure and its airport, although from our surroundings it is difficult to believe that we are not miles from urban life, such is the rapid change in the surroundings. 
 
There are one or two junctions to be navigated here, and between signs and yellow posts the route should be clear.

Pumping station pertaining to the Mestalla Irrigiation Canal, Valencia
Pumping station pertaining to the Mestalla Irrigation Canal
At this point we are following the Acequia de Mestalla, or the Mestalla irrigation canal, one of the 8 irrigation canales created during period of Muslim rule and which fall under the jurisdiction of the historical Tribunal de les Aigües (Water Tribunal). The Tribunal, which meets every Thursday at noon outside Valencia Cathedral to resolve matters related to the irrigation of Valencia's agricultural land, was declared intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009.
 
Wooden sign indicating the River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
Wooden sign indicating the River Turia Natural Park trail
About 6.5 kilometres from the official start of the River Turia Park, we must pay special attention to a worn, mostly-illegible wooden sign indicating our route to the left. It isn't the end of the world if we carry on straight ahead as we will eventually meet up with the river again, although by a far less attractive route.
 
Wooden bridge across the River Turia near Manises, Valencia
Wooden bridge across the River Turia near Manises
From this point on, we cross back and forth over the river with certain regularity by means of wooden footbridges, which it must be mentioned are shared with the trail's other users: walkers, runners, horse riders, locals out for a stroll and a bit of fresh air, etc. There have been calls of late to restrict both the speed and the access of bicycles along certain stretches of the trail due to conflicts with these other users. Hence, it is in everyone's interest that, as cyclists, we bear in mind that we are not alone on the trail, and especially so when on the bridges.

The River Turia Natural Park trail near Manises
The River Turia Natural Park trail near Manises
Our route takes us past the towns of Manises on our left and Paterna on our right, mostly invisible to us, as we head towards the rest area known as la Presa, some 12 kilometres from the official start of the trail, and 20 kilometres from the City of Arts and Sciences. 
 
Bridge over the River Turia at la Presa, Valencia
Bridge over the River Turia at la Presa
Equipped with benches and tables, la Presa is as good a place as any both for a rest and as a point in which to turn around for those not wishing to ride the whole route. However, those who decide to continue will not be disappointed, as it is beyond this point that the route really comes into its own and we become lost among the rich riverside vegetation.
 
Dense vegetation on the River Turia Natural Park trail, Valencia
Dense vegetation on the River Turia Natural Park trail

No sooner do we leave la Presa than we become immersed in thick vegetation, mostly a combination of Mediterranean forest, incuding pines, cork trees and aromatic plants, and giant reeds, which were originally introduced into the area by the Arabs.

Giant reeds lining the River Turia Natural Park Trail, Valencia
Giant reeds lining the River Turia Natural Park Trail
It's somewhat difficult to believe that at this point we are only some 500 metres from the Santa Rosa residential area, and perhaps 1 kilometre from l'Eliana, such is the density of the vegetation and the sense of immersion in nature.

River Turia Natural Park
The River Turia near L'Eliana
Sometimes following its natural course, sometimes directed through manmade channels, the River Turia is always close at hand along the route and always carries abundant water,

Wooden bridge over the River Turia
Wooden bridge over the River Turia
At around 26 kilometres from our starting point at the City of Arts and Sciences, the next town that we come to is Ribarroja, which also has a rest area with tables and benches near the river. The town also has plenty of bars, restuarants and public fountains and is an ideal place to stop for a rest. Furthermore, it lies on the Valencia metro line, so those wishing to return at this point can put their bike on the train and return to Valencia.
 
Rest area in Ribarroja del Turia, Valencia
Rest area in Ribarroja del Turia
For those who decide to continue, the route continues along the river from the west side of the recreation area.

River Turia Natural Park Trail between Ribarroja and Vilamarxante, Valencia
River Turia Natural Park Trail between Ribarroja and Vilamarxant
Still criss-crossing back and forth across the river, the route follows the meanders of the Turia for another 8 kilometres or so to the River Turia Visitors Centre just outside Vilamarxant, which is a good place to rest before turning around and heading back to Valencia. 
 
River Turia Natural Park Visitors Centre, Villamarchante, Valencia
River Turia Natural Park Visitors Centre
Other options include the village of Villamarchante, which has numerous bars and restaurants and lies around 1 kilometre or so from the Visitors Centre, continuing some 5 kilometres or so upriver to the bathing area at La Pea, or following the CV-50/CV-385 around 6 kilometres to the town of Lliria, from where we can take the metro back to Valencia.

Villamarchante, on the River Turia Natural Trail
Villamarchante, on the River Turia Natural Trail

Starting from Villamarchante 

Alternatively, for those not wishing to ride the full out-and-back route, it's possible to take our bikes on the train from central Valencia to Lliria, and ride the six kilometres or so to the route as it passes Villamarchante and start from there. Please note that this option takes in a stretch of main road and isn't really suitable for those riding with children.

 *At the time of writing this article (November 2020), the route included a temporary detour just after La Presa that includes a several short, steep climbs that may require infrequent cyclists to dismount.

Michael Dixon

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario