Tag Archives: Regional Parks in Murcia

Sierra de la Pila Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1992
  • Park surface area: 8,836 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Molina de Segura, Abarán y Blanca, Fortuna, Jumilla, La Garapacha, Fuente Blance, Hoya Hermosa, Peña de Zafra, and Las Casicas

Points of interest

The relatively small Sierra de la Pila Regional Park is located in the northeastern region of Murcia. Its steep reliefs are part of the limestone, dolomite and gypsum mountain ranges made up of medium-altitude massif. The park is divided into two halves separated by the Barranco del Mulo: The western part where the Caramucel summit is located at 1023 meters of altitude and the eastern part with peaks such as La Pila (1264 meters) and Los Cenajos (1200 meters ).

Like almost all the Regional Parks in Murcia, this area is included in the Natura 2000 Network and is a Site of Community Interest (SCI). A large part of the park is also a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).

Raptors are well represented here and include Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) and Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo).

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The area has a good amount of juniper groves, pine and holm oak woodland as well as much vegetation typical of the Spanish southeast such as palm hearts, strawberry trees, black hawthorn and lentiscus. As in the Sierra Espuña, snow was also produced here and near the summits of Cenajos there are the ruins of two snow wells.

There is also a large network of forest tracks that are great for discovering the scenery and wildlife of the area. (more than 50 kilometers).

Information/Visitors Centers

The information point “Fuente la Higuera” has been closed for sometime so the best place to head for is the visitor centre in El Valle. Here you can get plenty of information about the natural parks of Murcia

El Valle Visitor Center

Carretera El Valle, 61, La Alberca

From Murcia take the A-30 towards Cartagena, turn off towards La Alberca, exit 148 and follow the signposts marked “El Valle


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Calnegre y Cabo Cope Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia (Alto Guadalentín)
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1992. “Calnegre” and “Cabo Cope” Places of Community Importance (SCI) 2000. Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA), 2001
  • Park surface area: 10,032 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Lorca, Águilas, Calabardina and Puntas de Calnegre

Points of interest

The Calnegre y Cabo Cope Regional Park (Parque Regional Calnegre y Cabo Cope) is located in the south of the Murcia Region close to the border with Andalucia. The Lomo de Bas constitutes the northern barrier of the park and the eastern flank has a coastline length of around 17 km.

The marine environment where the area surrounding the rock of Cabo Cope is also protected as the “Submerged coastal strip of the Region of Murcia” and this landscape combines Mediterranean mountains with beaches, cliffs, salt marsh area and dunes.

There seems to have been a constant battle going on here between local conservationists and developers (Murcia government and banks) with proposed plans and projects for a nuclear power station, hotel and golf courses and marinas over the years.

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In recent years loggerhead turtles have returned to the area with 2 nests discovered in 2020. However, they were located in unsuitable areas. Eggs and hatchlings are collected and are cared for at the Aquaculture Center. IMIDA Marina in San Pedro del Pinatar untill they are released into the sea.

There are around 322 species of flora including Allium melananthum, Periploca angustifolia, Salsola papillosa and Ziziphus lotus. Also noteworthy is the population of black juniper in Cabo Cope.

Spur-thighed tortoise (Testudo graeca) are present in the area in good numbers.

Information/Visitors Centers

There is no dedicated tourist office or interpretation centre for the Calnegre y Cabo Cope Regional Park but you could start at the tourist office in Lorca to find out some more about the area.

https://lorcaturismo.es/enlacosta/enlacosta.asp?id=151


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Calblanque Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia (Campo de Cartagena)
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1992
  • Park surface area: 2453 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Cartagena and La Unión

Points of interest

The Calblanque Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila Regional Park (Parque Regional Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas y Peña del Águila) is located near the Mar Menor and Cabo de Palos and almost the entire area belongs to the municipality of Cartagena.

The protected area presents a great ecological and environmental diversity with systems of dunes, sandy areas, salt marshes, salt ponds, coves. The Humedal de las Salinas de Rasall is located in the southern part of the lagoon.

Its declaration as a Biosphere Reserve was proposed by Unesco in 2007 but this was sadly denied due to the interests and industrial activities of the municipality of Cartagena and La Unión. The planned construction of the Gorguel container port, the expansion of industrial activities in Cartagena, the restructuring project of Portman Bay and the transformation of the stormwater spillway in Cala Reona into an underwater sewage outfall were totally incompatible with the declaration of Calblanque as a Biosphere Reserve.

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Flora

This regional park contains a great diversity of botanical species in its different ecosystems. The endemisms and Ibero-Africanisms are particularly important, among which the botanical jewel of the park stands out, the Cartagena cypress (Tetraclinis articulata), an evergreen coniferous trees in the cypress family. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetraclinis. Also worthy of a mention is the Jara de Cartagena (Cistus heterophyllus subsp.carthaginensis).

Dwarf fan palm is well adapted to the harsh demands. Wild olive trees, lentisc and kermes oaks are common vegetation in the scrub zones.Some of the highly specialized plants are; Verbascum charidemi, Teucrium charidemi, Androcymbium europaeum, Helianthemum alypoides, Linaria nigricans, Sideritis osteoxylla and Ulex canescens. Saltwort, common reeds and glasswort grow in sandy, saline areas.

Fauna

Grey and purple heron, cranes, storks, black-winged stilts, oystercatchers and avocets can all be observed as well as flamingos. Sea birds include yellow-legged gulls, razorbills, shags, terns, cory’s and balearic shearwaters.

Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila Regional Park - Salinas are excellent places for bird watching
Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila Regional Park – Salinas are excellent places for bird watching

Reptiles include include ocellated lizards (Timon lepidus ibericus), grass snakes (Natrix natrix) and Lataste’s viper (Vipera latasti).

The main mammals represented are fox, badger, stone martin and rabbit

Top places to visit in the Calblanque, Monte de las Cenizas and Peña del Águila Regional Park

For those interested in photography, botany, birdwatching and general nature landscapes these are the places that should be visited in the area.

  • Cala de los Déntoles (also locally known as Cala Dorada)
  • Peña del águila (hill)
  • Cala Arturo
  • Cala del Barco
  • Cabezo de la Fuente
  • Cabezo del Horno
  • Cala Magre
  • Negrete Beach
  • Las Cañas Beach
  • Parreño Beach
  • Punta Negra
  • Punta Espada

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Visitantes “Las Cobaticas”

The Visitor Center “Las Cobaticas” can be found close to the village of Las Cobaticas (Paraje las Cobaticas, s/n — 30385 Cobaticas. Los Belones, Cartagena).

This information centre has a good selection of guides and maps and knowledgable staff that can help you get the best out of a visit to the area. The center also has an Interpretation room where you can learn about natural and cultural values, especially fauna and flora through panels, models, interactive elements and photographs. There are also temporary exhibitions related to the regional park and other protected areas of Murcia province.


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Carrascoy y El Valle Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1979. Regional Park 1992. Also listed as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and a Site of Community Importance (SCI).
  • Park surface area: 17,410 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Murcia, Fuente Álamo de Murcia, Alhama de Murcia, Sangonera la Verde, El Palmar, La Alberca, Beniaján, Corvera, Gea,Truyols and Sucina.

Points of interest

Due to its proximity to Murcia, the Carrascoy y El Valle Regional Park (Parque Regional Carrascoy y El Valle) constitutes the main “green lung” of the capital and its entire metropolitan area and It is made up of the extensive chain of mountains that close the valley of the Segura river and a part of the Guadalentín valley to the south.

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The main peaks and mountain passes in El Valle y Carrascoy Regional Park

  • Sierra de Carrascoy, the largest and highest of the complex at 1065 meters.
  • Sierra del Puerto, crowned at 532 meters by the Moorish castle of La Asomada that dominates the mountain pass of of La Cadena
  • Cresta del Gallo owes its name to the set of peaks whose shape resembles those of a rooster’s crest. The summit rises to around 500 meters
  • El Relojero at 603 meters is called El Valle by the locals and is the locationof a traditional recreational area nestled in one of the valleys of the mountains.
  • Miravete at 425 meters is a continuation of the Sierra de la Cresta del Gallo
  • Columbares, stands alone at the eastern end of the protected area at 646 meters.
  • Sierra Altaona is the driest and most rugged of those that make up the park and stands out for its eroded crags and ravines

Flora

A varied landscape with plantations of Aleppo pines from the 1940’s and some areas of Holm oak contrasting with the more sparse vegetation of heath, scrub, maquis and garrigue covering. There are also lesser areas of dry grassland and steppe that carry plants that are well adapted to coping on poor soils with long spells of drought.

With the pines and forming the low scrub is European fan palm, Lentisc, Kermes oak, Rhamnus, Osyris (Osyris quadrapartita) with climbers Mediterranean honeysuckle (Lonicera implexa) and Smilax (Smilax aspera).

On the El Majal Blanco estate (owned by the Murcia City Council) located in the center of Sierras del Puerto there is a small formation of large cork oaks (Quercus suber) (over 100 years old) preserved among the holm oak forest (Quercus ilex).

The arid areas have sparse vegetation of Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima), Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), yellow flowered Fumana (Fumana ericoides) summer-deciduous shrub Anthyllis cytisoides and Thyme (Thymus hiemalis).

Damp areas are home to Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) and Blue throatwort (Trachelium caeruleum). Water courses may have vegetation including Oleander (Nerium oleander), Myrtle (Myrtus communis), Reeds (Phragmites australis) and Elm (Ulmus minor).

Endemic to the south west region of Spain is the yellow flowered Centaurea saxicola and Lafuentea rotundifolia which is an aromatic plant, the only member of the genus Lafuentea (Scrophulariaceae) it grows in calcareous and dolomitic rock crevices and under rock ledges. Sedum sediforme can be found growing in similar areas.

Soils rich in the mineral gypsum contain Teucrium libanitis and Santolina viscosa.

Fauna

Amongst the reptiles and amphibians you may see are la Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Ocellated lizard (Timon lepidus ibericus), Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus), Iberian spiny toad (Bufo spinosus) and Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita). Mediterranean terrapin ( Mauremys leprosa) can be observed sunbathing on rocks at the waters edge.

Two birds for which the park obtained the ZEPA registration are the Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) and the Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Other raptors include Booted eagle (Aquila pennata), Common buzzard (Buteo buteo), Short Toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Peregrine (Falco peregrinus) and Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus).

A greater sample of the birdlife seen includes Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa), Stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Crested Lark (Galerida cristata), Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), Black wheatear (Oenanthe leucura), Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava), Wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus), Dartford warbler (Sylvia undata), Great tit (Parus major), Crested tit (Parus cristatus), Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra), Green woodpecker (Picus viridis) and Woodlark (Lullula arborea).

Mammals within the park include Fox, Wild cat, Badger, Wild boar, Squirrel, Rabbit, and seven species of bats.

Information/Visitors Centers

El Valle Visitor Center

Carretera El Valle, 61, La Alberca

From Murcia take the A-30 towards Cartagena, turn off towards La Alberca, exit 148 and follow the signposts marked “El Valle“

The “El Valle” Visitor and Management Center houses rooms for information, communication and dissemination of the natural and cultural values ​​of the El Valle and Carrascoy Regional Park, as well as technical management offices and offices for the Park’s Forest Agents.

There are exhibitions covering the main values of the park, its flora, fauna and geology. There are also exhibits of marine fossils discovered in the area.

Information regarding the natural, cultural and historical values ​​of the Park, trails, recreational areas and other points of interest. The Center has an interpretation room dedicated exclusively to the values ​​of the Carrascoy y El Valle Regional Park and In addition other exhibitions with different themes are exhibited. There is also a projection room in which an audiovisual divided into 3 parts is reproduced showing examples of the fauna, flora and cultural history of the area.

Centro de Recuperación de Fauna Silvestre El Valle (next to the visitor centre)

The CRFS Recovery Area, in operation since 1984, performs various works related to the conservation and recovery of protected species of wild fauna in the region of Murcia. These include the Program for the Recovery of Protected Wild Fauna Species .

Every year more than 2,500 animals are cared for (mainly birds but also reptiles, mammals and amphibians). Of these, around 40% are rehabilitated and returned to their natural environment, while some of those who do not manage to fully recover are relocated to the environmental education area.

There is also a Botanical Garden “Arboretum” showcasing local and worldwide plantlife.


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Sierra Espuña Regional Park

  • Region: Murcia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1931 (Area of national Interest), 1978 (Natural Park), 1992 (Regional Park). Also listed as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and a Site of Community Importance (SCI).
  • Park surface area: 17,804 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Aledo, Alhama de Murcia, Librilla, Mula, Pliego and Totana

Points of interest

The Sierra Espuña Regional Park is located at the eastern point of the Cordillera Betica and situated in the heart of Murcia, one of Spain’s smallest provinces. It is a heavily wooded area in a generally arid zone.

At the end of the 19th century, the entire mountain range was in a lamentable ecological state, with the almost total loss of its tree mass and presenting serious desertification processes. In 1889, the forestry engineer Ricardo Codorníu undertook the enormous task of reforesting the entire mountain range. This reforestation project became a model for its time and was then carried out in many other areas across Spain.

The high peak called Pico Morrón, at 1,579m dominates the landscape which contains a combination of rock forms, each eroding at different rates. The limestone areas give the typical karst formations of deep valleys and caves.

There is a national hunting reserve and through this large mammals have been introduced, the European Mouflon (Ovis musimon) and Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) are both at home in the dry, stony mountain peak areas.

The Sierra Espuña Regional Hunting Reserve has a surface area of ​​14,183 ha and a 76 km perimeter and is located within the Sierra Espuña Regional Park limits. Hunting in the reserve is dedicated to hunting larger game such as red deer and wild boar and is strictly monitered and managed.

In contrast to the pine clad mountains in the north-eastern area is the protected lunar type landscape made up of the mineral gypsum. The Barrancos de Gebas, known as the “bad lands” (tierras malas) are a succession of arid ravines and gullies.

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Flora

Reforestation plans have used three main types of pine trees, Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis), Maritime/Austrian pine (Pinus pinaster) and Black pine (Pinus nigra salzmannii).

Holm oaks (Quercus ilex) appear in small numbers from around 700m with the pine trees. There are also some oaks on higher, poorer ground, where they are of small dimension, dwarfed by the conditions. The undergrowth is typical for the Mediterranean region, Kermes oak, (Quercus coccifera), Prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus), Lentiscus (Pistacia lentiscus), Buckthorn (Rhamnus lycioides) and Gorse (Genista longipes). In more open areas these are accompanied by Rosemary, Thyme, Rockroses and clump forming Esparto grass (Stipa tenacissima).

The exposed high grounds of poor nutrients and stony soil are inhabited by well adapted low growing, thorny plants, Phoenician juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) and Hedgehog broom (Erinacea anthyllis) are among them. Another specialist plant, Sarcocapnos crassifolia grows in cracks in soft limestone cliffs.

The stream banks are where you will find Elm (Ulmus minor), Black poplar (Populus nigra), Mediterranean willow (Salix pedicellata) and Mediterranean honeysuckle (Lonicera implexa). Damp areas such as springs are home to ferns like Southern Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris).

Cultivated areas within the park have introduced a wider variety of trees including Walnut (Juglans regia), Service tree (Sorbus domestica), Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and Almond (Prunus dulcis).

Fauna

The Mouflon (Ovis musimon) was first introduced to the islands of Corsica, Sardinia, Rhodes and Cyprus during the Neolithic period, coming from Southwest Asia. This long separation from original stock has led to the categorizing of the subspecies. Now rare in those island situations, its numbers have grown in mainland Europe from recent introductions. It is red-brown in colour with white belly, muzzle, eye patches and lower legs. The Barbary sheep, from North Africa, is a more uniform brown.

The pine trees are home to the Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris hoffmanni) a local subspecies that is effectively cut off from other populations in this green island. Other animals include Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Hare (Lepus capensis) and Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia), Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Genet (Genetta genetta) plus the extremely elusive Wild cat (Felix sylvestris).

The skies above the high exposed areas may have Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Bonelli’s Eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Booted eagle (Aquila pennata), Short-toed eagle (Circaetus gallicus), Red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax), Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Crag Martin (Ptyonoprogne rupestris), Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) and Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) with the Eagle owl (Bubo bubo) more often only heard.

Tawny Owl (Strix aluco), Jay (Garrulus glandarius) and Common crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) may be seen around the pine woods. The rocky areas are home to Blue rock thrush (Montícola solitarius) whilst in the steppe area of Llano de Cabras you can find Dupont’s Lark (Chersophilus duponti) and Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus).

Amongst the reptiles and amphibians are Iberian water frog (Rana perezi), Natterjack toad (Bufo calamita), Fire Salamander (Salamandra salamandra), Iberian wall lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Fringe-Fingered Lizard (Acanthodactylus erythrurus), Bedriaga’s Skink (Chalcides bedriagai), Viperine Snake (Natrix maura), Lataste’s Viper (Vipera latastei) and Montpellier Snake (Malpolon monspessulanus).

There are 14 bat species recorded in the park including Greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum), Savi’s Pipistrelle (Hypsugo savii), Nathusius’ pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii), Geoffroy’s bat (Myotis emarginata), Long-fingered Bat (Myotis capaccinii) and Lesser horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus hipposideros). The last two are on the endangered list.

Butterflies within the park that deserve special attention are Spanish argus (Aricia morronensis subsp morronensis), Carswell’s Little Blue (Cupido carswelli) and the moth Chersotis margaritacea subspecies espunensis which can only be found at Morrón.

Also in the area

Pozo de Nieves or “Snow wells”

There are 26 Pozo de Nieves or “Snow wells” in the mountain region. These structures are above 1300m altitude and consist of a large circular hole cut into the hill and lined with stone. There are steps built to the base and a domed roof. Snow was collected by hand during the winter, compacted to form ice and stored until needed in the towns during the summer months. The ice was transported by mule and donkey up to 70km. They were used from the 16th century right up until the 1920s.

Viewpoints or Miradors

Collado Bermejo viewpoint

This viewpoint offers one of the best panoramic views of the entire Sierra, since it is located at an altitude of 1,201 m, it is a must if you want to climb the Morron de Espuña and see the Pozos de la Nieve. A stop here offers the opportunity to see places as beautiful as the Umbría de Peña Apartada, the Peña Apartada itself, the Cerro de la Garita, and of course, the deep and green valley of the Espuña River. In the distance you can see the Barrancos de Gebas.

Collado Mangueta viewpoint

Fabulous views of the Pozos de la Nieve on the right and Cartagena on the left, places as beautiful as the Cerro de Pinos Blancos, the ravines of Malvariche and La Hoz, two of the most important streams that flow into the Pliego river. Along the Pedro López trail, there are two restored snow wells.

Mula’s Umbria

This is one of the most unknown areas of the Regional Park. The area has a great landscape and ecological interest, in which dry agricultural landscapes and large areas of pine forest intermingle which favor birds of prey. The Barranco de la Hoz is one of the deepest in the park.

Ravines of Gebas

The Gebas ravines are one of the most spectacular landscapes of all those that come together in the Sierra Espuña Regional Park . It is a desert-type space, like a lunar landscape or bad-lands, which is formed by gullies, canyons and ravines.. The area covers almost 2000 hectares and is distributed between the municipalities of Alhama de Murcia and Librilla.

Totana is Spain’s second most important area for pottery production.

Information/Visitors Centers

Centro de Interpretación Ricardo Codorníu

On the road between Alhama de Murcia and Pliego take the turn to La Casa Forestal, the information centre is on this road. (Ctra de Fuente Alta, RM-515 Km 12, ascent to Sierra Espuña, CP. 30840, Alhama de Murcia).

This information centre has a good selection of guides and maps and knowledgable staff that can help you get the best out of a visit to the area. The center also has an Interpretation room where you can learn about natural and cultural values, especially fauna and flora through panels, models, interactive elements and photographs. There are also temporary exhibitions related to the regional park and other protected areas of Murcia province.

Huerta Espuña

Next to the visitor center is the area known as Huerta Espuña. It is one of the most historic places in the park, since it was the center of operations for the repopulation tasks directed by Ricardo Codorniú, here the first experimental crops were carried out to study the viability of the plants in this environment, which later they would be used for reforestation. Currently you can see the number of orchards that were used, some of them are still in use for projects to recover protected wild flora.


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