The comarca of Matarraña, the easternmost of Teruel, is a land of mountains, beautiful villages, and one of the few Catalan speaking areas outside of Catalonia that few know well. Beceite (Beseit in Catalan) is the nearest village to the trail, where many people like to spend the night, prior to setting off. The route essentially takes you along the Río Matarraña to a narrow canyon which eventually becomes impassable for regular hikers without experience and/or equipment depending on conditions.
The only realistic way to get to this place is by car, so you either need to hire one for the journey if you are going at the weekend. Alternatively, Hife have bus services from Monday to Friday from Zaragoza, Alcañíz and Tortosa, but extremely irregular. The route also has a control which charges for parking to enter, though there are days which are free. Depending on where you have parked, the minimum distance of the walk is about 8km, whereas the longest can be 13km if you leave from the village. You can go any time of the year, but I wouldn’t recommend going when it’s raining, due to potential storm surges of the river. Another point to be aware of, is that Pets are not allowed on this particular trail, but many people ignore this rule, do so at your own risk.
Starting from one of a few car parks, The path takes you to a small hydro station, where the valley, wide at first, will take you through as short tunnel. There are 2 detours from the start, the cave paintings or Pinturas Rupestres de la Fenellassa is just before the tunnel, while the Cueva de la Dona just afterwards is a nice detour. That, will warm up the legs a little for the main event. Only 1km or so into the hike, and the valley already starts to narrow and you will start to traverse the river, by crossing via suspended wooden walkways.
The valley heads southeast the majority of the time, and the mountains will start to get more dramatic early on. There isn’t much climbing involved during the whole hike, what can be a challenge though, is keeping your feet dry, the odd occasion. The walkway gets narrower the deeper you go, and continually combines, with boardwalks and occasional island hopping. You also don’t completely follow the course of the river, and will encounter some woodland paths, even nearer the end.
The walkway makes a pretty abrupt end where the rock faces twist around and can no longer be safe for any more boardwalks, and so the main path ends. This is where we stopped, but for anyone up for a little challenge, could continue going upstream at their own risk and reach another path at the Font de Tex where you will have crossed the border into Catalonia, and be close to peaks of 1200m+ as a result. For any novice hiker, of which there were some in our group, It is not recommendable, and this is a really nice spot to stop and enjoy until the walk back.
There’s nothing to report about for the way back as it’s exactly the same as the way there. All I can say that conditions and certain days can greatly affect the experience, and there are junctions where you need to respect other hikers passing more so than usual because of how now parts can be. This hike is perfect for people of all abilities and you can reward yourself afterwards with a visit of one of the many stunning villages around the region, particularly Valderrobles, Calaceite, Horta de San Joan and of course Beceite itself. Enjoy!
Any additional information about the Parritzal hike can be found here.