Sant Miquel trail is the most important way to reach Montserrat in medieval times. Fast track to today, it is one of the longest and toughest (probably most memorable) trail from Placa del Monestir.
The trail provides minimal shades (which makes the walking tough due to the heat), comprises mainly of sandy paths and had lots of steep up slopes. Despite these conditions, walking the trail is the best way to experience what people in medieval times went through. However, for visitors who prefer not to walk, they can take the Funicular of Sant Joan at Placa del Monestir to the upper station which is located 10-15 mins walk from Sant Joan Chapel.
There are three checkpoints along the trail. The first being St. Miquel Chapel, followed by St. Joan Chapel (mid point of the trail), and finally St. Jeroni Chapel situated at the highest point of the mountain.
St Miquel Chapel
The starting point of St. Miquel trail is approximately 20 mins walk (which include a long stretch of up slope) from Placa del Monestir. From the starting point, another 20 mins of mainly steep up slope walking brought us to our first checkpoint at 818m altitude, Sant Miquel Chapel.
The open space outside St. Miquel Chapel is a popular place to catch our breath and rest those tired legs before the next long stretch of walking.
St Joan Chapel
Though tiring, the walk was electrifying. We continued conquering the steep slopes up towards St Joan Chapel which is supposedly a 35 mins walk.
However, we took longer than the expected time. As the slopes got steeper and the sun hotter; our energy was being zapped away at an alarming speed. Finally, a glimpse of St Joan Chapel provided the much needed push for us to persevere.
The seemingly endless walk up finally came to an end after a torturous 50 mins walk. And here we were at our 2nd checkpoint at 1,000m altitude, St Joan Chapel.
At this halfway point, I (the wife) was starting to succumb to the call of my tired legs. The funicular just added to the temptation. The astonishing view, soft hissing of the mountains and the gentle cuddle of cool wind further drifted my mind away from this world.
However, with hubby’s constant encouragement and the lure of a treacherous bridge (hubby knew me too well) ahead, reluctance gave way to the impending excitement. After quenching 2 thirsty mouths with just a small bottle of mineral water and 2 bars of chocolate to feed our growling stomachs, we continued on to the final stretch of the trail.
St Jeroni Chapel
Just a short walk away and we reached the “treacherous” bridge. It was a simple wooden bridge built under a low massive rock. The bridge was to used to cross over a split in the mountain. Though worn-out, the bridge remains stable. This short encounter instantly lifted our spirit (if only the bridge had been longer)!
This final stretch to St Jeroni Chapel, the highest point of this mountain was very steep (probably 60 degree angle). The high level of difficulty was extremely tempting. However, without proper gears, disappointingly we had to gave up as we do not want to risk falling off. Also, since we started the trail at noon, we reckoned we would not have sufficient time to climb to the final point and be back at Placa del Monestir by sunset.
* St Miquel trail is not the only route to St Jeroni Chapel. The other route to St Jeroni Chapel started somewhere behind the statue of Abat Oliba.
St Miquel’s Cross
On our way down via a steep staircase….
we had some unexpected company….wild goats….
Since it is down slope thus easier, we managed to reach the starting point of St Miquel trail shortly after an hour of walk. 100 metres away from the starting point lies the St Miquel’s Cross.
At 770m altitude, the St Miquel’s Cross lookout point offers spectacular view from the Pyrenees to the Llobregat delta.