Cycling in Valencia - Climbs in Castellón

Map of the province of Castellón, Valencia, Spain
Map of the province of Castellón

Replete with signs and symbols of its recent and distant pasts, this sparesely populated area of outstanding beauty is perfect for traffic-riding in the mountains

Bordered by the Sierra de Caldeona and Sierra de Espadán ranges in the south, the Maestrazgo range to the west and els Ports in the north, the province of Castellón offers innumerable opportunites for climbing among countryside and villages that are guaranteed to leave a lasting impact.


Cycling in Alto Palancia, Castellón, Spain
The province of Castellón is bordered in 3 sides by mountains

The northermost of Valencia's 3 provinces, Castellón is bordered to the north by the province of Tarragona (Catalonia), to the west by the province of Teruel (Aragon) and to the south by the province of Valencia, with the Mediterranean Sea forming its eastern border. 

With around 85% of the province's @580,000 inhabitants living along the coast, the inland areas are some of the most scarcely populated in Spain, with densities in some municipalities as low as 5/km³.

Santa Maria Monastery, Puebla de Benifasar, Castellón, Spain
Monasterio de Santa María, Tinença de Benifassà, Castellón


The northern extreme of the province borders with the neighbouring provinces of Tarragona, in Catalonia, and Teruel, in Aragón, and loosely follows the limestome massif known as Els Ports. The highest point in this area, which is mostly uninhabited except for small villages, is Mont Caro (1441 m.a.s.l.), which is to be found across the border in Tarragona.

An area of incredible natural beauty, Els Ports contains two natural parks: Parc Natural dels Ports, on the Catalan side, and Parc Natural de la Tinença de Benifassà, on the Valencian side. 

Perhaps the most outstanding climb is the Coll de Fredes, which climbs from the Ulldecona Dam on the River Sénia to an altitude of @1150 metres near the village of Fredes. Depending on where we start, the overall altitude gain is around 700-800 metres. We also have the option of tackling the beautiful climb to the village of Bel @960 m.

View of the Javalambre Astrophysical Observatory, just over the border of Castrellón in the province of Teruel
View of the Javalambre Astrophysical Observatory, just over the border of Castellón in the province of Teruel


The western border of the province is delimited by the wonderful Maestrazgo (Maestrat in Valencian), which runs from la Tinença in the north to (approximately) the River Mijares in the south, and whose highest point is the 1,831 m Penyagolosa.

Rugged, wild and mountainous, the area has been populated in the past by Iberians, Romans and Moors, before being dominated by military orders such as the Knights Templar, St John of Malta and Montesa following the Reconquista, all of whom have left their mark on the unique landscape and culture.

View of village of Ares del Maestre, Spain
Ares del Maestre, in the Maestrazgo, Castellón
Julio armelles / CC BY-SA 3.0 ES

When it comes to choosing climbs, we really are spoilt for choice as the little-used roads constantly rise and descend between the villages and towns dotted around the region.

To the north we have Puerto del Querol (@1000 m), linking the coast to the historic town of Morella, and Coll de Ares (@1140 m), recently included in la Vuelta a España. In the central part of the range we find Puerto de Benafigos (@1050 and Puerto de Culla (@1050 m), whilst in its more southernly extreme we have Puerto de Chodos (@1100 m), Puerto de Vistabella (@1250 m), Puerto de Puertomingalvo (@1450 m) and the torturous Mas de la Costa (@990 m). But these are just examples, and there are many, many more climbs suitable for road cycling in the area.


Men's Professional Road Race Championship 2018, Castellón, Spain
Road racing in Sierra de Espadán, Castellón

In cycling terms, the southern border of Castellón is dominated by Sierra de Espadán and Sierra Calderona, the latter of which is shared with the province of Valencia. Popular climbs in Sierra de Espadán include Puerto de Eslida (@650 m), Puerto de Ahín (@600 m) and Coll de la Nervera (@715 m), whilst Puerto de Arenillas (@903 m) and Puerto de Bellida (1300 m) are located more towards the western border of the province. Again, these are merely examples of the many, many climbs to be found in these ranges.

Cyclist riding in Sierra de Espadán, Castellón, Spain
Riding in the Sierra de Espadán range, Castellón


While the coast is, for the most part, flat, special mention can be made of el Desierto de las Palmas, the most popular climb among cyclists living in and around the city of Castellón. 

Carmelitas Monastery overlooking Mediterranean Sea, Castellón, Spain
Abandonded Carmelitas Monastery and Mediterranean Sea from Desierto de las Palmas
Castellónenred / CC BY-SA
Host to an abandonded monastery and offering vies over the Mediterranean Sea below, the climbs peaks out at around 400 m and is a regular feature in la Vuelta a España and la Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana bicycle races.

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