About Cascada de los Litueros (Cascada de Somosierra)
The Cascada de los Litueros (also called Cascada de Somosierra or Chorrera de los Litueros) felt like one of those relatively hidden locals-only waterfalls even though it was somewhat visible from the busy highway between Madrid and Burgos. However, getting a closer look at this waterfall seemed to have all the elements of an off-the-beaten-path feel to it as we had to go on a wide and unsigned (and seemingly abandoned) road without lines, traverse some undeveloped bush property where trespassing signs seemed to be ignored, then scramble on an unmarked path. In other words, this waterfall was a bit of a short adventure.
As you can see from the photo at the top of this page, this waterfall was certainly worth the trouble as it featured an upside-down trident shape framed by a shapely rock near its top. It had felt like the area around Madrid hadn’t seem much rain in a while, but the fact that this waterfall flowed as well as it did was a testament to its reliability. It also seemed like it might be one of those few waterfalls where it was possible to cool off around the plunge pool, which meant that this falls could’ve offered that rare combination of play and scenery without the crowds.
From the unmarked trailhead right at an apparent gate or archway hidden by trees, we then followed a footpath that went past a sign saying something to the effect that we were passing through private property (from what I could tell based on my Spanish). As the terrain opened up and was more exposed to the sun, we then continued along the path as it swung by another gate (which was unlocked) before following onto a wide path. Just a few minutes later, we rock-hopped across the first stream crossing. Then a short distance before reaching the second stream crossing (so we didn’t have to cross it at all), we then scrambled up a prickly bush-clad hill, which clung to the slopes as it ultimately got us to the front of the Somosierra Waterfall.
We were content with our slightly elevated views of the waterfall, but it looked very doable to continue descending from the hill we scrambled upon towards the inviting plunge pool at its base. As we took a look at our surroundings, we could see the noisy A-1 Autovía del Norte) in the distance. And after having our fill of the falls, we then returned to the car park by the way we came in. Overall, we had spent about 50 minutes away from the car, but a lot of that time was spent just chilling out at the waterfall. The walking time took us roughly 15 minutes in each direction (longer on the way there since we had to figure out the best path to scramble upon).
Although the hamlet of Somosierra seemed to be nothing more than a collection of a few buildings with a gas station and maybe some ranches, it was said to have had a bit of a violent history as the site of the Battle of Somosierra, which took place in November 1808 during the Peninsula War. There were clashes between Napoleon’s armies and the Benito de San Juan-led Spanish who tried to defend Madrid from falling under the French charge despite being outnumbered and outgunned. Given the rugged terrain of the area (which was quite apparent when we did this hike), Napoleon took some losses when his Polish Chevau-legers unit led the initial charges, but that set the stage for later waves led by Napoleon and his troops. The French army eventually overcame the defense at Somosierra (essentially Madrid’s last line of defense) and took over Madrid days later.
Given Somosierra’s close proximity to both Madrid and Segovia, Julie and I were quite surprised by how little known this waterfall seemed to be outside of locals in the know or waterfallers like ourselves willing to do a little more research before committing to an excursion abroad.
From Madrid, we had to drive north on the A-1 for about 80km. There was a signposted offramp (possibly exit 91) for Somosierra, which we took then followed its surface street (N-IA) for about 2km. Once we got past the gas station and started to head back onto the A-1 North, there was an unmarked but wide access road on the right. We took that access road (do not go on the freeway) and followed this for about one kilometer until we stopped the car at a very small pullout on the right side.
Overall, this drive had taken us between 60-90 minutes.
Going in the opposite direction, one would have to leave the A-1 southbound roughly 8km south of the N-110 / A1 interchange (under 150km or 90 minutes drive) south of Burgos. Once we left the A-1 on exit 92, we then followed this road until we reached a left turn, where we would eventually wind up back at the gas station near the northern on-ramp for the A-1. Going from southbound to northbound in Somosierra pretty much meant doing a U-turn so be careful about oncoming traffic.
The drive between Segovia (the nearest sizable city to the falls as well as where we were staying) and Somosierra took us approximately one hour.
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