Torrent d’Almedra via Refugi de Tossals Verds and Embassament de Cuber
This excursion takes us on both sides of the river valley that acts as the drainage for one of Mallorca’s main reservoirs. Along the way we pass through the beautiful public finca of Tossals Verds and it’s refuge, we cross one of the few cabled sections of the Tramuntana, we enjoy great views of the interior of the island and of Puig Major (Mallorca’s tallest peak but lamentably home to a military installation and therefore forbidden to summit), and we pass through a series of tunnels constructed for the conduction of water from the reservoirs to the farm land and city below.
How to arrive
From Mallorca’s via cintura we take MA-13 north towards Inca/Port d’Alcudia. After 16.5k we take the exit marked Lloseta/Consell/Alaró/Binnisalem and begin following indications to the pueblo of Lloseta. This takes us over the motorway, right onto the old northbound highway MA-13a and through the village of Binnisalem. Soon after this village (22.7k) we turn left still following the indications to Lloseta. Just before we reach the village we arrive to a round about. (24.7k) Instead of heading towards Lloseta we continue around and follow indications to Cami de San Pelai/Tossals Verds heading towards the mountains now and following the signs taking us to Tossals Verds. We see in front of us Puig Major and now just basically are going to continue up the river valley. At 25.3k we stay straight on following signs to Alaró and Tossals Verds on MA-2110 and again at 26.5k we continue straight on ignoring the left hand indications to Alaró and staying with the signs to Tossals Verds. Here we begin to see authentic Mallorcan farmland, some large fincas to our left and the towering rock Puig de s’Alcadena above us and to the left. At 29.1k the road begins to get rough and we continue following the same road with the drainage on our right. At 31.2k we cross a bridge over the torrent and soon after see the small dirt parking lot on our left (31.5k) where we leave our car.
The weather in Mallorca, like almost anywhere, is variable ranging from extremely hot and dry in the summer to cold, windy and rainy in the winter. Clothing and extra water considerations should be thought through well. For our particular excursion there is no heavy brush or overgrown sections therefore in the hot summer months short pants are recommended in addition to sunblock and a hat. Strong soled boots are wise as Mallorca is a very rocky island and as we will find mud and puddles in the tunnels year round. A strong flashlight and/or headlamp is a necessity too navigate the tunnels. Don´t forget a high energy snack like chocolate or granola.
This route has some very steep sections and climbs of 30+ minutes as well as rocky and steep descents and is recommended only for those with at least a medium level of fitness with ample experience in the mountains. Plan for 4-5 hours without stops. The very fit can complete the loop in less than 3 hours.
This route can be done in 4 different ways; clockwise or counter-clockwise starting from the reservoir, or clockwise or counter-clockwise starting from the dirt lot at the end of the road coming from Lloseta. I have chosen to describe it the way I think it is the most enjoyable and quickest to the trailhead. From Palma driving to the reservoir takes probably double the time than it will to reach the dirt parking area where our journey commences. Here we will see a wooden ladder next to a gate and signs to Tossals Verds. One minute after passing the gate we cross the torrent and turn to follow it on a wide, easy to follow dirt road. Soon after (10m) the road turns to concrete, enters a high walled gorge-like section and begins to climb steeply. If is has rained recently or if the reservoir above is spilling we will enjoy small waterfalls and pools along the way, the nicest of which being just after crossing a bridge (15m). Shortly after the road levels a bit it brings us to another wooden ladder we will climb and officially enter es Tossals Verds as a sign indicates (20m). Just a minute further we come to a well presented map of the area and are able to orientate ourselves a bit seeing the refuge, the reservoir and our torrent. Just before we begin the climb up the asphalted road (23m) to the refuge we see on our left a wooden bridge crossing the torrent, a sign indicating the route to Alaró and a gate through which we will exit later in the day marking the end of our loop (one heads this way now if doing the route in reverse). The switch-backing road leading up to the refuge can be cut several times but as not to disturb the fragile flora of the area be will stick to the pavement until just after the fourth switch-back (31m) when we see a small wooden sign inviting us to leave the road and climb the remaining ten minutes on a comfortable but steep stone and dirt path. Not long after, we find ourselves back on the asphalted road and see the refuge on our right just a minute away. This refuge is a series of refuges placed along the GR-221, a trail that traverses the Serra de Tramuntana leaving Pollença in the north and taking you to Andratx in the south. Just to the left of the main building (39m) we find a small trail heading west marked ‘Pou de Sa Coma/ses Cases Velles’ and take this instead of heading north on the GR-221. We almost immediately come to a wooden gate that we are sure to close behind us keeping the sheep where they belong. We ascend in just a couple minutes to a narrow pass in the rocks where just beyond we see a wooden fence on the left side of the trail. Following this wooden fence down we need to look sharp for a small trail heading off sharply to the left just beyond where the small fence ends and where there should be a small rock pile. (42m) We take this trail and will follow it down and around crossing a small seasonal creek where we then start a winding ascent (46m). During this ascending section there are a few notable objects. We soon cross through a space in a rock wall constructed in the Mallorquin style of Pedra en Sec or dry stone avoiding the use of mortar. After the wall we are provided with what seem like two trails in front of us but both join just 50 meters further ahead so take your pick. Just beyond we climb to a spot where we see a flat circular space on our left and a small hut on our right.(52m) The sitja on our left is where the carboners built their fire mound to produce carbon used as cooking fuel until the arrival of butane to the island in the late fifties and the barraca (hut) on our right is where they sat/slept to keep an eye on the fire staying sheltered from the elements. From here we continue up and to the left skirting the mountain on an easy to follow trail seeing cairns along the way before reaching another sitja (58m) and seeing a rocky outcrop to our left. From here we turn around and enjoy a view of the interior of the island with the towering rocks of Puig de s’Alcadena (left) and Puig d’Alaro (right) in front. With binoculars we can pick out the well camouflaged Castell d’Alaro atop it’s peak. From here we start a short descent down and to the right towards the torrent bed but soon return to our slowly ascending traverse until (1:03) when we reach a small pass turning us parallel to the torrent and into the heart of the Serra de Tramuntana. Following this rocky path we see across the valley our return trail skirting the opposite side in and out of tunnels, and a huge rock towering above us and to the right called Salt des Cans. Shortly (1:10) we come to a tricky spot where the trail seems to continue the traverse but instead we look down this small drainage and see a better rocky path which we take down only to start a steep climb just seconds later bringing us back to our general trajectory heading up the valley.
Soon (1:20) we come to Pas Llis, one of the few cabled routes on the island, where those of us who choose will use the cables to assist us in the short but tricky descent. Soon after we descend to a point much closer to the torrent (the closest we will get on this side) and from here we begin the longest ascent of the day to Coll de sa Coma. The trail is mostly easy to follow but at a point (1:35) where the trail seems to continue straight, but really does a switchback, we see our trail head back up to our right. Soon after this point a flatter section gives a short break from the climbing and just after we start climbing again we come to a type of fork (1:40). Our trail, the cleaner of the two, takes us off to the left and up towards the pass above. A bit further on we see the remains of a small plane wreck (1:55), from which I´ve heard the pilot miraculously survived, before crossing a tiny seasonal creek and looking up to our left to see the our final switch-backing climb towards the rock wall and pass high above. When we finally reach Coll de sa Coma (2:15) we cross through a narrow slit in the wall and just beyond enjoy a breathtaking view. Back behind us towards the interior we see, in addition to the peaks mentioned earlier, far away Puig de Randa with the monastery Cura atop and on a clear day the island of Cabrera. In front the striking face of Puig Major, and it´s communication installation, rises above the reservoirs of Gorg Blau to the right and Cuber to our left. From here we begin a steep descent towards the car park we see down below and just before reaching the highway (2:35) we make a left at the end of the rock wall onto GR-221 (this rock wall is our landmark if doing the trail in reverse). Just a few hundred meters to our right, utilizing the GR, is Font des Noguer, a pleasant picnic area and nice place for a break. We instead stay to the left, passing the car park on our right and taking the paved road left towards the dam of Cuber instead of continuing right on the well marked GR-221. Along the way we should see the cows, donkeys and sheep that usually hang out between the road and the water. Arriving at the dam (2:55) we take the wide dirt path off to our left, instead of crossing the dam and heading towards ‘Refugi de Cuber’ and ‘Biniaraix’ (the road joins back up with GR-221, descends the Barranc de Biniaraix and eventually would take you to Soller). Just a few moments down our dirt road we need to look hard to our right for a parallel path leading us to our first tunnel which our present path would cross over. Arriving at the mouth of the tunnel (3:00) we stop at the grass clearing to prepare our lights and will see the other path above. To our right heading down into the torrent bed are small, slippery paths leading to some pools, pleasant during the wet months but a little treacherous to reach. The tunnel is almost always muddy or full of puddles and some of us will opt to walk on top of the conduit to keep our boots dry. On the other side we close the wooden gate behind us, turn off our lights and begin a descent soon reaching the bed of the torrent d’almadrà (3:10). During high water it is easily crossed utilizing the large tubes leading across. Once on the other side we follow a clear path heading left along the wall and soon must make two short climbs (our last) where near the top of the second we look across the valley and see the trail we used earlier to climb to Coll de sa Coma. The trail flattens out momentarily as we walk past unused concrete tubing before starting our mostly steep descent where the trail is at times slippery and/or rocky but always easy to follow. At approximately 3:30 we reach the second tunnel and, as there is no safe way around, we turn our lights back on and enter enjoying a much dryer floor. Almost immediately upon exiting we see the 3rd tunnel and just before entering we can see, during wet months, a nice waterfall below. This tunnel is longer than the previous two and we must watch our heads near the end. When we exit (3:45) we see the remains of some of the machinery used in the 70’s for construction of this system in addition to one of the flow regulation blocks. Soon we reach the 4th tunnel and this time have the option of going around to the left following the small Canal de Solleric which feeds water to the nearby finca of the same name. This detour is highly recommended in the wet months as we would see waterfalls and pools in the torrent below. Shortly after this tunnel we come to a very short tunnel not requiring the use of lights which we pass quickly through before seeing our 6th and final tunnel. On the other side we take the dirt road heading of to the right ignoring the spray-painted lettering claiming (in Mallorquin) a 3€ fee for entering here. Not long down this road (4:05) we reach the north entrance to the finca de Solleric (not labelled). We however stay to the left on the main road heading down and soon reach the wooden gate, the signs and bridge we saw much earlier and after crossing, we turn right finding ourselves back on our original road which we follow easily down to the car (4:30).