Turia Nature Park
A magnificent green corridor for the metropolitan area of Valencia
In a nutshell, that is precisely what the Turia Nature Park is. But with over 4,600 hectares to explore, you will discover much more.
Because this protected nature area, a splendid natural extension of the Turia Gardens, is home to a rich variety of ecosystems and species that can be found across the length and breadth of the towns that fall within the park boundaries: Quart de Poblet, Manises, Paterna, Riba-roja de Túria, L'Eliana, Vilamarxant, Benaguasil, Llíria and Pedralba.
As you would expect, the landscape adopts the form of a typically Mediterranean forest.
But let's go back to the capital, Valencia itself, because there is so much you can do with the city as your starting point.
Paths to explore the Turia Nature Park
This park offers countless paths to choose from, whether you want to take a gentle stroll or burn off a few calories (it's entirely up to you).
But if you prefer two wheels or four legs, you also have a range of options. Check them out:
Main route via the Turia River Park
This stretches 25 kilometres along both banks of the river. But don't worry, you'll find several rest areas along the way in case you need to make a pit stop.
The route starts at Cabecera Park, in the capital, but if it's more convenient you can join it from Llíria, Vilamarxant or Riba-roja.
One thing you can be sure of as you walk along the banks of the Turia: you'll find no less than 19 wooden bridges where you can cross the river to explore other scenic spots, such as the traditional meadowlands of the Vega Valenciana.
You'll also get a close look at the Moncada canal, the most important one fed by the River Turia, which irrigates all the fields from west to east between its course and the Mediterranean Sea.
This is an easy route, ideal for the whole family. The kids will be delighted to cross paths with squirrels and herons or spy trout in the river.
As we mentioned earlier, for those of you who prefer two wheels, this path offers various MTB routes with the chance to explore culture and nature all along the way.
The Equestrian Trail IE-031 follows the course of the river through the Turia green corridor, with a variety of routes (also green) that reveal the park's ecological value and cultural heritage in all their glory.
The Arab tower Felx, the Hispano-Visigothic hill fort of València la Vella and the Bronze Age archaeological site of Lloma de Betxí are just some of the fascinating discoveries that await you.
This equestrian trail is one of the most complete ones you will find anywhere in Spain because there are two paths to choose from: you can either ride for 7.2 kilometres through the Vallesa forest (see below for more details) or follow the 12.8-kilometre path through Les Rodanes.
Including the 15.3 kilometres of parkland, you have 35.3 kilometres of black poplar and elm forests, understoreys of aromatic plants and Aleppo pines through which to ride or stroll with only the sounds of the forest for company.
But that's not all. There's so much more to explore.
More paths to enjoy the natural surroundings of Valencia
The park contains a wealth of beauty spots that you can explore by following different routes, each marked with its own colour.
Check out the brief descriptions below:
#1 Yellow Route: Les Rodanes
This is a 13-kilometre circular trail that takes approximately four and a half hours to complete. It has a medium level of difficulty.
The trail starts at the Bassa Barreta car park and passes through Rodana Gran, a series of trenches built during the Spanish Civil War, Rodana del Pic and Caballons.
#2 Red Route: La Pea
This 13.5-kilometre trail takes you close to Peña Atrón, the peak where birds of prey nest between December and May.
It starts at the Molino car park in Pedralba and along the way you'll see the Pedralba reservoir, Chucheve Hill, the viewpoint at Las Hoces del Turia, the Cuatro Piedras or "Four Rocks" beauty spot (if it's hot you can take a refreshing dip here), the Pea hydroelectric power station and the Troneta viewpoint.
The trail has a medium level of difficulty and climbs to a height of 210 metres above sea level.
#3 Blue Route: El Palmeral
This is another circular route, 11.9 kilometres long and with a medium level of difficulty. It also begins at the Molino car park in Pedralba and takes in scenic enclaves such as the Virgen de Luján chapel, the Palmeral Hill, the Pedrera ravine and cave, and the Palmeral path.
On this route you will see examples of dry stone architectural heritage such as water tanks, "catxirulos" or rustic shelters, and walls.
#4 Purple Route: Water
This 9-kilometre trail winds it way through farm lands and forests, taking in architectural heritage related to water and the old irrigation systems typically found in this area.
It runs between the Pea route and the Turia River Park and you can either start at the public washing place in Villamarxant or at the Visitor Centre.
#5 Pink Route: La Vallesa
At just 3.1 kilometres this is the shortest and easiest route. It starts at the Vallesa housing development in Paterna and crosses through the forest of the same name.
The nexus between civilisation and nature in the metropolitan area of Valencia, this place is so impressive that we've included a special section on it below.
Other nature areas in Valencia
This introduction to the delights of the metropolitan area of Valencia would not be complete without mention of the other magnificent nature areas that offer an ideal option for spending a quiet day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Check them out below.
The Vallesa Forest
La Vallesa is home to a rich biodiversity of both plant and animal species. Be sure to look closely around you when you visit this forest.
- With regard to the flora, you will find typical Mediterranean species like Aleppo pines, olive trees and carobs. A little closer to the ground, the Mediterranean scrubland includes Kermes oaks, gorse, rosemary and thyme bushes, and mastic trees.
- As for the wildlife, the number of species is infinite: eagles, owls, frogs, toads, snakes, rabbits, martens, weasels, genets, foxes, boars and squirrels are just some of the animals that live in these parts.
Besides, La Vallesa is home to one of the world's best (and rarest) populations of Anthyllis cytisoides, a gorgeous lilac-coloured endemic shrub.
Other wild flowers, mixed with the characteristic aroma of rosemary and thyme, complete the ever-present mantle of colours in this forest.
If you decide to visit it, you will pass through a variety of landscapes, ranging from pinewoods, a hill in the process of regeneration after a wildfire, and dryland crops.
But don't worry, you don't need to do too much research in advance. The paths are dotted with explanatory panels offering full details of all the ecosystems you are passing through.
And if you get hungry, you can stop at one of the sustainable restaurants you'll find in the vicinity.
Turia River Park
The park stretches 30 kilometres along the banks of the River Turia, beginning in Vilamarxant and ending in the city of Valencia.
Although, as you can imagine, the best part is in the middle.
Heritage is also a dominant presence thanks to the ruins that bear testament to the different civilisations that have made their home here through the ages and in which the river, as the source of life, has played such a crucial role.
Roman and Arab aqueducts and canals, remains of irrigation channels, water pumps and tanks, and "catxirulos" or rustic drystone shelters are just some of the examples you will find.
But nature is the predominant feature of the park. The river banks endow the area with an extraordinary biodiversity, including species such as aspens, black poplars, white willows and basket willows that form little forests.
Vegetation also continues to flourish in the water thanks to different species of reeds and bulrushes.
The same is true of the wildlife: this area is home to over 150 vertebrates, ranging from amphibians, reptiles and fish to birds and mammals.
The Turia Park Visitor Centre
The park also has a Visitor Centre where you can obtain all the information you need or even contribute your own ideas and suggestions.
It's located in Vilamarxant, specifically at CV-50 - PK 87.200 Pont de la Barca. You can also contact the centre by phone on 961 325 162 and 660 127 250 or send an email to email@example.com.
More nature in Valencia
Don't think Valencia's natural delights end here.
Head north-west and you'll come to another of the province's wonderful nature areas: the Chera-Sot de Chera Nature and Geological Park.
A protected site since 2007, this park straddles the areas of Plana de Requena-Utiel and Los Serranos, nestling in the valley that cleaves through this part of the province.
It is a place of magnificent contrasts, with a rare combination of geological and water features. The first marvel you will see in this ecosystem is the Buseo reservoir, with a depth of 350 metres. The next one, very close by, is the Cinco Pinos or "Five Pines" peak, which stands 1,170 metres high.
Biodiversity, a rich variety of landscapes and culture are other gems waiting to be discovered. Be sure not to miss the Hoz ravine, the River Sot and, of course, the Buseo reservoir.
If you go back to the starting point, in the area known as Alto Turia, you'll find a biosphere reserve stretching across 67,080 hectares.
It follows part of the middle course of the River Turia and offers an extraordinary biodiversity that includes steppe birds, hares and rabbits, blackbirds, toads and two endemic fish species: the Catalan barbel and the Valencia chub.
To visit the park, just head to one of the villages that fall within its boundaries: Aras de los Olmos, Benagéber, Chelva, Titaguas and Tuéjar.
By now you will have realised that Valencia is also very green: a destination that offers several options to find that country retreat we all need now and again to escape the stress and routine and enjoy nature at its very best in the company of family or friends.