Trail 2: Sierra de Santo Domingo

Leave the Pigalo campsite to cross the riverbed towards Barrera de Curro.  From there, you’ll pass through Soto de Peña Cervera to take a jungle-like path. You enter Huertalo, the most rugged and undiscovered area of Mount Luesia.

Turn left and after bordering it, cross Loma Tiraz towards Soto de Juan Largo.  You will ascend through the young pine forest and after going up Loma de las Trancas, you will head towards Las Raíces Ravine.

At the beginning, the route keeps going up and down.  From Las Raíces Ravine, you will go over Loma de Jospin at its lower part.  Descend once again to cross the ravine of Huertalo and begin climbing again—in this case with no more descents—through Paco de los Cuchareteros to Mal Paso, and from there to Cabo Bal and Puy Moné.

From there, you will begin your descent down Loma de Peña Cervera to Malos Dientes. Turn right at the path, and this will lead you back to Pigalo.

This trail is short in terms of distance but quite difficult due to its continuous up-and-down progress and its moderate slope.

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Visión general de la Sierra - Sierra de Santo Domingo. Rutas Ornitológicas por el Prepirineo. PREPYR365
Pareja de pájaros en una rama - Sierra de Santo Domingo. Rutas Ornitológicas por el Prepirineo. PREPYR365
Diversidad ornitológica en la Sierra -  - Sierra de Santo Domingo. Rutas Ornitológicas por el Prepirineo. PREPYR365
Naturaleza y árboles en estado puro - Sierra de Santo Domingo. Rutas Ornitológicas por el Prepirineo. PREPYR365
Type of itinerary: One-way trail
Estimated time: 5
Distance: 8.5 km
Elevation: 762 m
Physical difficulty: Intermediate
Technical difficulty: Intermediate

From Pigalo, the trail runs along the paths on the north face of Puy Moné, taking a circular route that will reveal the most rugged areas of this landscape—which served as hideouts for bandits and a haven for Maquis—, as you pass its peak.  In the first half of the last century, this was a coal-producing area that was famous for its quality in Zaragoza and the entire province.

Variations in altitude and orientation give rise to a climatic mosaic characteristic of the Mediterranean mid-mountains, which explains the rich flora and fauna native to this area. On the shady slopes, Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), with a very good state of conservation, predominates, accompanied by an understory of common box (Buxus sempervirens) interspersed with some silver birch (Betula pendula) on the boundaries and aspen (Populus tremula). In these areas, there is a series of stands of relict European beech (Fagus sylvatica), constituting the outermost rim of forests for this species in the Pyrenees.

The richness of fauna in Sierra de Santo Domingo, closely linked to the diversity of this landscape that serves as a transition between the Mediterranean and Euro-Siberian environments, is absolutely remarkable. The presence of invertebrates such as Apollo butterflies (Parnasius apollo), present in the crags of Santo Domingo, and the Spanish moon moth (Graelsia isabelae), which can be found in great numbers in the mossy pine forests of Pinus sylvestris, as well as the eastern eggar (Eriogaster catax) in the Mediterranean forest, is worth mentioning. There are also beetles such as great capricorn beetles (Cerambix cerdo) and stag beetles (Lucanus cervus) in the holm oak forests and oak forests of the Sierra, as well as Alpine longhorn beetles (Rosalía alpina) in the beech forests.

Recognition for the richness and interest of the bird species found in Sierra de Santo Domingo has been given through its declaration as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds, with the Sierra de Santo Domingo, Caballera and River Onsella SPAs. The Protected Landscape is also located in a Bearded Vulture Protection Area, where a nesting site is found.  The presence of four breeding pairs of Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) in the area and the abundance of red kites (Milvus milvus), with nesting sites at the foothills of the Sierra, are worth highlighting. There is also a large number of necrophagous birds, including large populations of griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus).

With regard to mammals, aside from wild boar (Sus scrofa), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elaphus)—with a very large number of them present—, specimens such as the European badger (Meles meles), European polecat (Mustela putorius), common genet (Genetta genetta) or beech marten (Martes foina), as well as the highly valuable Eurasian water shrew (Neomys fodiens) in cool ravines, Cabrera’s vole (Microtus cabrerae) in the grasslands at the foothills to the south of the Sierra or the greater horseshoe bat (Rinolophus ferrumequinum), all stand out for their uniqueness.

The rivers Arba de Luesia and Arba de Biel, as well as their tributaries, is home a to a great variety of fish species of high conservation value, with the Catalan barbel (Barbus haasi), Ebro barbel (Luciobarbus graellsii), South-west European nase (Parachondrostoma toxostoma) and common minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus) being of particular interest. In the upper courses of both rivers, there are some specimens of the Pyrenean brook salamander (Calotriton asper), whereas the Palmate newt (Lissotriton helveticus) and marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus) are found in springs and ponds. The common toad (Bufo bufo) is usually found in humid pine forests and cool areas; in oak and beech forests, there are western green lizards (Lacerta bilineata), as well as Lataste's vipers (Vipera latasti), Montpellier snakes (Malpolon monspessulanus), European smooth snakes (Austrian coronella), ladder snakes (Rhinechis scal). Aquatic specimens such as Natrix natrix and Natrix maura can also be found here.

Geomorphologically speaking, Sierra de Santo Domingo is a limestone anticline from the Cretaceous Period, with alternating limestone and loam from the Eocene Epoch, whose hinge has been dismantled by erosion, giving rise to a relief of vertical walls made of limestone rock, with peaks exceeding 1,200 m.

In the areas of softer materials such as loam and clay, erosion has left some sandstone enclaves that have turned into pools of unsurpassed beauty, such as Pozo de Pigalo and Pozo de María in Luesia.  The river Arba de Biel has done the same in its upper course, leaving hard sandstone combined with copper ore exposed in the area known as La Mina. Further down, near the village of Biel, the river has carved out the conglomerate forming straits, such as the well-known Pozo Tronco.

Also, in the surroundings of the fluvial or river channels comprising this system, riparian formations of great floral richness have developed in association with them. 

Geomorphologically speaking, Sierra de Santo Domingo is a limestone anticline from the Cretaceous Period, with alternating limestone and loam from the Eocene Epoch, whose hinge has been dismantled by erosion, giving rise to a relief of vertical walls made of limestone rock, with peaks exceeding 1,200 m.

In the areas of softer materials such as loam and clay, erosion has left some sandstone enclaves that have turned into pools of unsurpassed beauty, such as Pozo de Pigalo and Pozo de María in Luesia.  The river Arba de Biel has done the same in its upper course, leaving hard sandstone combined with copper ore exposed in the area known as La Mina. Further down, near the village of Biel, the river has carved out the conglomerate forming straits, such as the well-known Pozo Tronco.

Also, in the surroundings of the fluvial or river channels comprising this system, riparian formations of great floral richness have developed in association with them. 

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