Tossal de la Baltasana or the Tower from Prades (circular)
A route to the highest peak of the Baix Camp and Conca de Barberà in the Sierra de Prades that offers us unique views and walks through one of the only two Pyrenean oak forests in Catalonia.
Tozal de la Baltasana or “the Tower” (Mountains of Prades)
- Difficulty: easy
- Slope: 260 meters of positive slope
- Time: about 2 and a half hours
- Kilometers: 8.5km
We leave from the parking lot of the Prades soccer field. It is located in the northern sector of the town, almost when it ends. From this car park, located on Calle Colomers, we will continue along the GR-171, which goes up to Tossal de la Baltasana. It will take approximately 1 hour (or a little less, depending on the pace) to reach the highest point of the Prades Mountains.
We will see that the GR diverts us to a street on our left (Juli Garreta street), recently paved. We will continue here until the urbanization ends and the forest track begins, just when we enter the forest. Next, we will find a detour to the left that we are going to take (GR marks).
We will enter a path that will gradually climb, without stridency, through a forest dominated by Scots pine and with some Pyrenean oaks. In fact, it is the only point in Catalonia where we can observe these Pyrenean oaks and we will appreciate that the leaf is something different.
The path above comes to a fork and we continue to the left. We go up looking at the marks of the GR-171 and punctually some yellow mark. We will arrive at a forest track that we will follow in a northeasterly direction until we cross the Coll de la Foguina, where we will see a panel that indicates the presence of Pyrenean oaks.
We will continue along the track in this shady corner of the mountain until shortly before reaching Coll del Bosc, where we will see a path to our right that will indicate the climb to Tossal de la Baltasana.
We will face this last ascent through the western corner of the mountain until we reach the top of Tossal de la Baltasana, better known as "the Tower" by the people of Prades. At the top there is a geodesic vertex, a compass rose and also a small watchtower with signals, repeaters and a webcam/weather station.
From the geodesic vertex, protruding a little from the forest, you will contemplate the views of the surroundings: you will see the town of Prades below and, beyond, the Montsant mountain range. Some other peaks of the Tarragona region can also be seen, such as the Mola de Colldejou or the Mussara antennas. In the background, on clear days, you may be able to see the Puerto massif. On the other side, if the sky is clear, you will be able to see the Pyrenees, from Puigmal to Monte Perdido.
To return from the top, and complete a circular route to Cueva de Pere and Roca del Gríngol. We will descend from the top of Tossal by the opposite slope (direction East), along a forest track. At the end of the track we will find a chain and we will arrive at a crossroads on a small plain. To the left, you would return to the Coll del Bosc and turn the top to the shade. We will continue along the track in a North-East direction and still with the GR-171 marks.
Shortly after, we will leave the GR marks and continue along the track to the right (indicator sign for Prades and Poblet along the cattle trail). In fact, from now on you will notice some yellow and blue markings which are the ones that indicate the cattle path between Poblet and Prades.
We continue along this track that skirts the top and the Moleta plain to the south. Further on, we will see a small shortcut to the left along a path that we took. Simply, you would save a small curve in the track, so if you continued along the track you would still arrive at the same place. The path takes us to the Cueva d'en Pere, an old construction made under some large rocks and which is quite interesting to see.
We return to the forest track until we reach a new detour with a sign indicating the Font del Mas d'en Pagès. At this point, we will do a little up and down to the Roca del Gringol, to have another perspective of the mountains. We then take this path to the left and immediately find a landmark and a small path to the right, somewhat less well-trodden, which is what takes us to the top. We will continue along this path until we reach the foot of the Gringol rocks. We climb this rocky cliff that rises above the red pine forest and enjoy the view that is offered from above. As the day is clear, we have come to see Montserrat above the fog, apart from all the surroundings of the Prades mountains.
We headed back towards the town. We undo the path from the top to the track and now we will follow it down, heading southwest along the Ganadero de Prades to Poblet path (signposts). You will almost always do the return on the track, except for a small stretch of trail. In any case, we will always pay attention to the stakes and markings of the cattle path (well signposted). We will go down the track that according to the ICGC is the Camí dels Plans and, further on, we continue along the Camí dels Colomers and Camí Vell de Montblanc tracks until we reach, after a while, the center of Prades, which we enter through the Virgen de la Abellera avenue that reaches the central road and the church of Prades. Once in the center of town, we continue along the main road (T-700) until we reach the car.
Author images and text: Sergi Boixader