Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the Collserola Park situated on Barcelona’s western fringe. The intense summer hear has gone, making outdoor pursuits such as hiking more agreeable.
With a total area of 84.65 km², Collserola is the largest metropolitan park in the world – 8 times larger than the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, and 22 times larger than Central Park in New York. This means the park is a wonderful escape from the city, popular for walking, cycling and birdwatching. There are clearly marked hiking paths, including one noteworthy route from Vallvidrera to Sant Cugat, a route usually taken by commuter train.
As well as evergreen Mediterranean pine trees that are acclimatised to the heat, behind the Collserola Mountain in the shadier parts of the park you will find that mountain oaks predominate, as well as oaks and hazels, the deciduous trees that we associate with typical image of autumn.
Another unmistakable signal of the coming of autumn is the arrival of autumn fruits such as viburnum, the cane apple (or strawberry tree) or butcher’s-broom. Some of these seasonal fruits are edible, while others can be exceedingly toxic, says the technical and environmental education guide Claudia Yague, who is responsible for the nature walks organized by the Vallvidriera civic centre.
The Vallvidriera civic center organizes tours in which the public can learn more about the Collserola forest and the way it changes during different seasons.
Collserola Park contains over a thousand major plant varieties, and around thirty plant communities have been catalogued. These communities of plants include Aleppo pines and nut pines, evergreen oaklands, riverside copses, maquis and scrublands, brush and Savannah grasslands.
Such rich diversity allows for the existence of a remarkably varied wildlife including animal species such as wild boar, genets, badgers, rabbits and squirrels. Bird varieties include blue tits, woodpeckers, doves, goshawks, sparrow hawks, and rat-catching eagles. Reptiles include salamanders, newts, green tree frogs, the small southern frog, toads, the small spotted toad, the Mediterranean turtle, the giant turtle, the ocellated lizard, and several snake species.