The Cascada de Penaladros (or more accurately, Cascada de Peñaladros) was where the rushing Río San Miguel dropped some 15m into a lush ravine. Unlike most of the waterfalls on our visit to Spain in 2015, this falls had a very healthy flow. As you can see in the photo above, the waterfall was surrounded by vegetation so I suspect this was one of the healthier drainages in the area. In addition, what really stood out to us about this seemingly ordinary waterfall was the backdrop consisting of the mesa-like cliffs that we’d typically expect to find in the mesas and buttes of the American Southwest.
In any case, for all intents and purposes, this waterfall was essentially a drive-to waterfall for us. There didn’t seem to be safe access to get down to the river’s level and perhaps see the falls from its base. Thus, this was one of those look-but-don’t-touch waterfalls.
Even though this was pretty much a drive-to waterfall, it turned out that the greater challenge for this falls was actually spotting it while driving a very narrow one-lane road with hardly any pullouts. We actually overshot the falls before I turned back and only noticed it on the return. Plus, I was nervous about the lack of pullouts on the single-lane road so if any car was going the opposite direction as us and we encounter each other, I’m not sure what we would do. Luckily, we didn’t face this situation, but I’m sure that potential would always be there for anyone wishing to visit the falls (see directions below for more details on this). In fact, it seemed like this was one of the more obscure waterfalls we had visited throughout Spain so this lack of notoriety further increased the chances of getting to experience the falls by ourselves.
Finally, as it was getting late on the day of our visit, we nearly called it a day and skipped this waterfall because we were suffering from waterfall fatigue after having already visited Cascada de Orbaneja del Castillo, Cascada La Mea, and Cascada de Pedrosa de Tobalina all while we were making the long drive from Burgos to Bilbao. However, when we noticed a sign pointing the way to this waterfall, that was when I made the executive decision to just go for it. There was also a roadside waterfall that we had stopped for somewhere near the turnoff leading to Cascada de Penaladros so that further strengthened our resolve to overcome the waterfall fatigue. Besides, we were aware of the driving distances and how much time it really took to get from place to place in the mountains so it was unlikely we’d be coming back this way anyways.
We visited the Cascada de Penaladros as part of a longer drive from Burgos to Bilbao, but the excursion prior to this was at Pedrosa de Tobalina. So we’ll describe our drive from Pedrosa de Tobalina to Cascada de Peñaladros then from the falls to Bilbao. If you’re headed in the opposite direction than what’s described here, you can always follow the directions in reverse. However, if you need directions on getting to Pedrosa de Tobalina from Burgos, see the Cascada de Pedrosa de Tobalina page.
From Pedrosa de Tobalina, we drove nearly 27km north on the Bu-550 road. After leaving a tunnel at right around the 27km point, look out for an unsigned roadside pullout overlooking a valley while also facing an attractive cliff-diving waterfall (which was not Cascada de Peñaladros). This was a very worthwhile stop that let us better appreciate the area harboring Cascada de Peñaladros. Anyhow, just under 2km further from the pullout, there was a signposted road pointing to the right for “Cascada de Peñaladros”. We followed this rural road (A-3630) for about 6km passing through the hamlet of Cozuela en route.
At the last 400m, there was a signpost that pointed us to the Cabanas de Peñaladros. I wasn’t sure if we were allowed to park here, but further on the road past this property was a single-lane narrow road that practically had zero opportunities to pull over and let someone pass if he/she was headed in the opposite direction. Really, the only spot on this road where there was room was right at the pullout near the waterfall itself. We were lucky that we didn’t have to figure out what to do if such a situation arose since we were the only ones visiting the falls during our visit.
Since the pullout was not signed, it was easy to miss on the first go (but easier to spot going in the other direction). We realized that we went too far when we found ourselves going uphill to the hamlet of La Abadía, then we turned around and eventually spotted the falls and identified the correct pullout. Overall, the drive from Pedrosa de Tobalina to the Cascada de Peñaladros took us around 45 minutes.
After visiting the falls, we drove back to the Bu-550 (turning right), then continued on this road towards Artziniega, where we joined the A-624 due east then got off onto the A-2604 at the eastern end of town. We followed the A-2604 for about 11km when it joined up with the Bi-636 road just past Zubiete. Then, we followed the Bi-636 road into the city of Bilbao some 13km or so later. Overall, it took us about a little over an hour to cover this part of the drive.
Finally, for some geographical context, Bilbao was 101km (over an hour drive) west of San Sebastián, 159km (over 1.5 hours drive) northeast of Burgos, 336km (over 3 hours drive) east of León, and 402km (4 hours drive) north of Madrid.
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