Today I take you to one of the most hidden and forbidden forests of Asturias, the Nature Reserve Muniellos. Only 20 visitors are allowed to enter per day, with a maximum of one visit per person per year. It is therefore a unique opportunity for me to join a tour led by the super enthusiastic manager of the Nature Reserve!
A bit of a background about Muniellos
The integral nature reserve of Muniellos covers 60 km2 and is the largest oak forest of Spain. Moreover, due to the restricted access, it is one of the best preserved oak forests in Europe. The reserve is part of the much larger Natural Park of Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias (more than 475 km2).
Since its declaration as biosphere reserve in 1982, the flora and fauna in Muniellos developed itself without human intervention. This makes it a fantastic place for researchers to study all kind of biology- and ecology related topics. Clearly, as a former forestry student, I enjoy today’s sight of enormous trees, moss-covered trunks, a winding river and explosion of colors to the fullest!
Various routes can be taken in Muniellos. A circular one of 20 km leading along four lakes is the most recommended. However, today we only visit a small part of the nature reserve, a path leading along the river Tablizas:
Two alternatives to experience Muniellos
Since so little people are allowed to access Muniellos, most visitors of Asturias do not have the opportunity to enter the nature reserve. But no worries! There are at least two great routes which give you (almost) the feeling you are in the ‘forbidden’ forest itself!
Muniellos Interpretation Centre
The first one is a short walk around the Muniellos Interpretation Centre in the hills. The curvy road towards it is already exciting. The higher up you come, the better view you have over Muniellos. The Interpretation Centre is surrounded by a wooden path taking you to two viewpoints. These points give you a tremendous view over Muniellos. In spring, you look out over a sea of different shades of green, while in autumn, the colors are breathtaking. A beautiful place for pictures or just to enjoy the scenery and peace.
Moal Forest Trail
The second route starts in the village of Moal. In 2018, Moal received the price for the most exemplary village of Asturias. For over 25 years, the King of Spain awards this yearly price to a village or community which preserves its natural, artistic and/ or cultural heritage. This is, combined with its friendly inhabitants, already enough reason to visit Moal. Even better is that a nice circular walking trail of 8.5 km starts here. The route offers some great views on Muniellos. Even though you are not in the forest itself, its surroundings are almost as well-preserved and therefore worth a visit.
Although I did not walk the route myself (yet), it is mentioned several times by the Asturians participating in today’s excursion as a great alternative for visiting Muniellos. Obviously, it is now on my to-hike list for a future visit!
Do you want to visit Muniellos yourself? You can reserve your place via this link. If you need help, or want to know more about Muniellos and its surroundings, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org!