bèrnia mountain range
The Sierra de Bernia is a mountainous group belonging to the Betic Mountain Ranges , specifically the Prebetic Mountain Range , and located in the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula , in the province of Alicante .
The mountain range is part of the Protected Landscape of the Sierras de Bèrnia and Ferrer , a figure of protection granted by the Generalitat Valenciana in 2006.
The mountain range extends about 11 km from west to east, perpendicular to the Mediterranean coast. The mountain range covers an area of 1,900 hectares, distributed among the municipalities of Alcalalí , Jalón , Benisa , Calpe , Altea , Callosa de Ensarriá and Tárbena . The highest peak of the Sierra de Bernia - which is used as a geodesic vertex - is located in the municipality of Jalón and measures 1,128 meters above sea level . In the shady area of Bèrnia we find 4 micro-reserves of flora, with a great variety of them, and a diverse fauna with mammals such as fox, badger and wild boar. It also has a wide variety of raptors.
In 1562 , by order of Felipe II , the so-called Fort of Bernia was built on the southern slope of the mountains. From the remains of this fortification, located 803 meters high, you can visually control the entire coastline between Cabo de la Nao , in Jávea , and the port of Alicante . On clear days, you can even glimpse the island of Ibiza .
On this occasion, we will describe the circular route of Sierra Bèrnia through 'El Forat' and the route of ascent to the top from Fuentes del Algar.
6.1 serra bèrnia: circular route
Natural border between the two Marinas, the spectacular hiking route around the Serra de Bèrnia (Sierra de Bernia) - also known for the route of "El Forat de Bèrnia " ( a natural tunnel that crosses the mountain, and which transports us to the southern slope of the mountain range) - is undoubtedly one of the most complete and with the best views of the geography of Alicante.
The route is sometimes quite stony, so we recommend if possible, wear mountain shoes. It is about 9 km. long, with an approximate drop of 400 meters, and it will take us about 4 hours to complete it.
From Benissa, we take the winding road that leads us to the hamlet of Pinos, and that we continue later in the direction of 'Cases de Bèrnia' , the starting point of the route. 'Cases de Bèrnia' (Casas de Bèrnia) is a small rural hamlet located at the foot of the Bèrnia summit, on the north face of the mountain range, within the municipality of Xaló .
Next to the Casas de Bèrnia we find a parking area and a panel with a map of the route. We recommend that you follow the PR-CV 7 path to the left, towards El Forat .
In this first part of the route, a comfortable dirt road brings us little by little closer to the walls of the mountains, until we reach the Font de Bèrnia , where we can cool off.
From here, the path that ascends to El Forat for approximately 1.5 kilometers begins: a natural tunnel of karst formation (dissolution of limestone rock due to the effect of water), about 15 meters long, which allows us to cross from one slope to another from the mountains.
In the second of these steep areas, just before Forat, you have to take the path to the right, at this point you will see a small natural cave that was used years ago as a refuge for cattle.
The El Forat tunnel is about 15 meters long, being narrower on its north face. It is very easy to cross, with the help of the hands, and at all times we see light on the other side. E l tunnel widens to become a spacious dome at its southern end. At this point, you can enjoy wonderful views of the Bay of Altea.
We continue the tour along the southern slope of Bèrnia. In this section of the path, we will cross several quarries and areas with large blocks of rock, so the path becomes very stony.
Little by little we are approaching the recreational area " Font de la Barca " and the Casas del Runar. In the background, you can see Puig Campana, Ponoig and Penyo Cabal in the distance. Once you have reached the detour in the direction of the Font del Garroferet along the Camí de les Revoltes, you can continue straight ahead, towards the Fort de Bèrnia . Before that, a short but steep climb awaits you.
Thus, we arrive at ' Fort de Bérnia' (Fort of Bernia), a military fortress built in 1562 by order of Felipe II. From the Fort de Bèrnia, you can start the ascent to the top, which we will explain in the next section.
On this occasion, we will continue with the circular route, so we go to the Coll de Xaló , which gives access to the north face of the mountain range. From here, it will be all descent until you reach the Cases de Bèrnia , the starting and ending point of the excursion.
6.2 serra bèrnia: ascent route to the top
We will do this route of ascent to the top of Sierra Bèrnia starting from Fuentes del Algar , a beautiful natural setting with a high degree of conservation of ecological wealth and equipped with tourist services that we will present in the next section.
The difficulty of this route is intermediate until reaching the Fort of Bèrnia; and high if what you want is to reach the top . With a linear route (one way) of about 6.7 kilometers, a drop of about 600 meters at the beginning and 300 on the ascent, and an average duration of 3 hours. The signposted path to follow will be PR-CV 48 at the beginning , and with milestones / red dots on the ascent.
The start of the route will be the Fuentes del Algar , as far as we arrive from Callosa d'en Sarrià . You can park the vehicle in any of the car parks in the area, or continue up the road. After passing the entrance to the fountains, we turn left at a first crossroads. After a little less than a km we come to a new fork. At this point you can leave the car, and go up on foot on the left. Shortly after a steep paved curve, on the right, you will find a pile of rocks that marks the beginning of the PR-CV 48 trail .
The first section zigzags up to Cova del Bardalet , a former refuge for livestock. We will ascend from about 317 meters and you will find a signpost. Once the Cova del Bardalet is reached, the path will be flatter and more accessible. It will be like this until we start the climb to Fort de Bèrnia , in another section of zigzag.
But first we passed by the Corral del Bancal Roig (Corral del Bancal Rojo), formerly used to keep livestock in winter. And we arrive at the Bancal Roig lagoon (depending on the time of year, we may or may not find water).
Once here, the section is more comfortable, with just a 100-meter drop that will take us to the beginning of the climb to the fortress. This climb will make us ascend from 600 to 800 meters where the Fort de Bérnia is located . They will appear indicators until they reach it.
After leaving the Fort of Bernia behind, in the first section of the climb we will ascend from it to the base of the great spine of Sierra Bèrnia , with a lot of loose rock. Once passed, we reach the crest proper.
Already at the base of the ridge, we have to look for the red points that will guide us to the top (for safety reasons, do not start to ascend if you do not find these references). Once you have passed the rocky steps, you will reach the top of the Bèrnia ridge, which will take you to the long-awaited summit.
Now there will be a small "via ferrata" in which you can help yourself with the use of a chain. Do not be scared, it does not involve great difficulty for accustomed people.Once up, at the top, you can enjoy the so-called "Mirador de las Dos Marinas", both can be seen from the top of this Sierra Bernia.