Moal (Mual) is located about 20 km south of Cangas de Narcea, away from everything and with just 80 inhabitants. A small but very dynamic town, awarded in 2018 as «Exemplary Town of Asturias». The jury highlighted its agroecological economy and its commitment to added value in the rural world. The associationism, the complicity and union between neighbors, allows the people to make their projects a reality. How to organize the Puerta de Muniellos Mountain Race, which since 2012 tests runners from all over Spain, in a circuit of more than 30 kilometers.
Exemplary towns of Asturias
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But Moal is also a meeting point for hikers of all conditions. The routes that start from here are many. Among them stands out the one that circulates through the forest that bears his name or the more affordable itinerary known as "The Walk to the Tables" (ideal to do with children and/or by bicycle); well signposted, which in just over five kilometers and with hardly any unevenness places us at the same access door to Muniellos, the largest oak grove in Spain and one of the best preserved in all of Europe.
Moal forest, Muniellos gate
With about 600 square kilometers, the Natural Park of Fuentes del Narcea, Degaña and Ibias (recognized by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve), contains a thousand dream landscapes. Surprising forests that appear differently in each season of the year. It is the perfect and hidden habitat for brown bears, grouse, chamois, wolves, foxes, wolves, otters, martens and endless birds. Moal forest is part of this park and it is, in addition to a treasure in itself, the entrance hall to the great house of nature that is Muniellos; a house with restricted access (a maximum of twenty daily visitors to preserve its nature intact). Perhaps due to these restrictions, the Moal forest has become an unbeatable alternative for all those who have not found a place and who want to get as close as possible to Muniellos.
The route through the Moal forest, of great beauty, will allow us to reach the Montecín viewpoint, from where we can do a panoramic sweep over the mythical forest of Muniellos.
Moal Forest Route
We can park our vehicle in Moal itself and cross the town until we reach the Chapel of Saint Julian. From here we turn left to cross the Tablizas river towards the town square. We then continue along the track that starts on the right and that in its gentle ascent, between chestnut trees and oaks, heads towards the La Collada Trail. At this junction we take the path to the right to fully enter a beautiful chestnut grove where we discover corripas -small circular stone constructions that are used to store chestnut urchins- and cortines -also circular structures to protect the hives from bears.
We will always continue in the same direction and along the most marked path until we reach a sharp curve where the path forks. You have to take the path to the right again to continue ascending. Between oaks and chestnut trees, first; later we cross a beautiful beech forest. The treetops form natural tunnels that provide us with shade at all times; something very important for those who make the route on the hottest days.
When this last beech forest opens up, we see the path to the viewpoint of Montecín. We will have to deviate a bit at a well-signposted crossroads. Once at the viewpoint, and after enjoying the views of the valley, the town of Moal, the port of Connio and a large part of the Muniellos Integral Nature Reserve, we set off again. We must return to the main path by which we ascended to Montecín, for which we take the path on the left towards The Chanu La Collada, a crossroads. Here we take the detour to the left, which, steeply sloping, descends rapidly until it meets the track that leads to Moal.
some considerations: the steep descent from the Montecín viewpoint means that in just over a kilometer we will face the unevenness that we had initially climbed for three kilometers. This circumstance raises the difficulty of the route by one point. It is usually considered "medium" level because the dense fern vegetation makes it difficult to descend, at times too vertical and slippery. For this reason, there are those who decide to carry out this circular route contrary to what the official circuit establishes. That is, in favor of clockwise and not against. Thus, a steep descent is avoided. There are also those who decide, once they have reached Montecín, to return the same way and thus make things easier.
circular route 8,5 km (round trip)
Maximum drop: 450 meters.
Duration: 3-4 hours.
Access to the town of Moal:
Take the AS-348 road from Cangas del Narcea to Degaña, take the AS-348 road in Ventanueva that leads to Ibias via the Connio. In barely a kilometer you will reach Moal, the starting point of the route.
Photographs: © Roberto Molero on Flickr and © J. Morrosco
Maximum height: 1014 m
Minimum height: 526 m
Ascent slope: 599 m
Descent slope: -547 m
Time spent: 05:23:31