Montana de Santa Barbara - Mountain Trail

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EI Tossal d’Orta, also known as Santa Barbara, is a magnificent pyramid shaped mountain that dominates the village of Horta de Sant Joan.
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Its privileged location makes this top a great viewpoint for the bulk of the Port and the Terra Alta and Matarrana. At its base is the convent of Santa Maria dels Angels, that dates from the time of the Knights Templar, with a door and stairs of the 15th century Here, during the XVI century San Salvador, patron and highly venerated saint of the town of Horta lived for 12 years.

Location of Start - Horta de San Juan The T330 runs across the northern side of the mountain range. Horta lies a few km to the north of this road.
Distance - 6km.
Ascent - 300m.
Walking time and total completion time including any stops - 1,5hr,  2,5hr.
Start point - Start in the middle of the village. Follow the T334 south (Avenguida Ports d'Horta de San Joan) to reach Carrer F on the LHS. Take this and at a long sweeping bend to the L take the road that goes E into the fields. 
From the town there is a clear road that runs E towards the Convent of Santa Maria dels Angels of San Salvador. Above this we can see the top of Santa Barbara, haughty and challenging. Take the signed path that leaves to the left of the building. When we arrive at a level terrace situated behind the convent we take a footpath to the left (roughly East) under the crags, ignoring the way on the right that ascends more directly in the direction of a hermitage.

Remember that you use these walk guides at your own risk. Take precautions and if unsure – turn back! 

The path that we follow is surrounded by cypresses and we are going to contour great walls of conglomerate, below the mountain.  33mins
After a bit of contouring, the path crosses some impressive barrancos and then begins to ascend.  35mins
We make a noticeable turn and see a cave on the right, located at the foot of the walls. This is the Cave of San Salvador, where there is a statue of the saint protected by a grate and a fountain. We return to the same path and continue to ascend.  38mins
We take the footpath that continues ahead steeply and to the right in zig-zags. 44mins
After a steep ascent we arrive at a first rocky col, flanked by cypresses and with a terrific panorama. We continue ascending, moving below the walls and on the other side of the mountain 50mins
Second col, also surrounded by cypresses. This is also an impressive viewpoint, with a beautiful panorama over the valley of the Canaleta, presided over by the majestic walls of the Tossal d'en Grillo and Montsagre d'Horta. There are ruins of the Hermitage of Sant Antoni. From now on, the footpath follows a platform between 2 sets of crags 51mins
To the right, there is a cistern and remains of a fortification of the Civil War. We are going to follow the airy ramp, that begins to ascend from here. 54mins
We arrive at a level stretch covered by cypresses, located below the rocks that form the highest crest of the Tossal d'Orta. We leave the footpath that continues straight ahead (that we will then follow for the descent) and turn to the right, by a footpath that climbs through the rocks to the other flank of the hill. 56mins
Summit ridge. We turn left in the direction of the ruins of a hermitage surrounded by cypresses. 59mins
Now we reach the ruins of the Hermitage of Santa Barbara, located to little distance from the top. From here it is possible to enjoy a magnificent panorama and we can now easily complete the ascent. If you do not have vertigo, you descend a few meters through the rocks in the direction of a col, and then up to the summit.  1hr.,2mins
Top of the Tossal d'Orta or Santa Barbara. There is sometimes a Catalan flag and cross with the inscription of Santa Mission , dated 1953. There is a great panorama towards Horta de Sant Joan, the surrounding towns and the bulk of Els Ports, seen in detail from this viewpoint. We have to return to the hermitage to complete our route. 1hr., 5mins
From the Hermitage of Santa Barbara we descend by the same path for a short way. When we reach the terrace covered with cypresses. we take the path we had been following earlier and turn towards the right. 1hr., 13mins
At the end of the terrace the path descends in the direction of a needle shaped rock – Cigronet- located immediately on the continuation of the main ridge. The footpath runs through some scree so it is best to make zig-zags and pass below the needle on our right. The paths is in poor repair but obviously man-made 1hr., 15mins
We arrive at the high part of a small rocky canal. We are going to descend, making continuous turns by a very awkward and stony footpath, but without any real problems.  
Soon we see the convent below us. We pass close to a Hermitage. 1hr., 26mins
At a crossing the path on the right takes you towards a hermitage constructed at the foot of the wall. Ignore this and continue straight ahead. 1,5hr.
When you reach the Convent of Santa Maria dels Angels, you can re-trace your steps back to the village. There is an opportunity to follow a track on the E side of the town walls and make your way N and back into the town where you wish.  
Last Updated: 16 March, 2020
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