Portal de Picos
Portal de Picos is a high mountain peak at an elevation of 1.854m (6,082ft) above the sea level located in Northern Spain, in the autonomous community of Cantabria. At the summit there are several facilities and buildings.
The road to the summit, located in the Central Massif of the Picos de Europa mountains, is gravel, rocky, tippy and bumpy at times. The first snowfalls usually occur at the end of September and the road is usually impassable from October to June (weather permitting). Great trail for experienced wheelers. Avoid driving in this area if unpaved mountain roads aren't your strong point. It’s a rugged area and can be dangerous. In particular the changeable weather (in autumn the temperature can drop very quickly).
Located within the Picos de Europa national park, expect a trail pretty steep. 4x4 vehicle required. Stay away if you're scared of heights. Thunderstorm activity can quickly change unpaved roads to four-wheel-drive condition or make them impassable. The place is teeming with wildlife, much of it rare and protected. Wild boar, ibex and different breed of chamois live alongside the Iberian Wolf and even the Cantabrian brown bear.
Its many twists, turns and narrows can pose a challenge to even the most experienced drivers. The road is not easy, though. Up, down, right, left all the time. On the way to the summit there’s a mountain hotel called Chalet Real. It is a villa built by the Real Company Asturiana de Minas, a residence for engineers, but was instead host of King Alfonso XIII in 1912 on a visit to Picos de Europa for hunting chamois. At the beginning of the road there’s a hotel called Hotel Áliva. The journey offers great views of the ridge formed by Olvidada, Peña Vieja, Pico de Santa Ana and Torre de los Horcados Rojos behind you.
Pic: Joaquin Esteban Alvarez