As well as the ‘generic’, i.e. nationwide rules for motor transit in Spain each of its seventeen Autonomous Regions has the right to amend these with their own regulations. There are summarized by the Spanish trail riders’ association AMVER (in Spanish), which has similar aims to the British Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF).
The regions vary considerably in their implementation of these right, however, with some merely reiterating the generic rules while others tend to overstate the obvious. Hence the summary table below only highlights the most important variations for planning a tour riding trails in Spain.
The main law controlling access to trails is the ‘Ley de Montes’, which restricts traffic to defined trails of no less than four metres in width, traversing open country and features such as fire breaks, water courses and authorises local authorities to make temporary restrictions in circumstances such as periods of high fire risk (NB – this can occur in winter as well as summer!). It also specifically requires that ‘sports’ or competitive events require special permissions and insurance policies and/or cash deposits to indemnify third parties, etc.
In addition, there is a ‘generic’ speed limit of 40kph and all vehicle must be ‘street legal’ with a specific requirement to have all documentation available for inspection. In practice this can also mean street legal according to Spanish rules, so trail bike owners should have two mirrors, a chain guard and a ‘reasonable’ silencer – some regional rules specify silencers apt for fire prevention, which suggests that a forest warden patrols, who have ‘police powers’, may use this to ‘bust’ a rider with a non-standard exhaust in the absence of noise measuring equipment!
Another law that affects trail riding is the ‘Ley de Conservación de los Espacios Naturales’ which empowers the regions to implement their own rules regarding access to nature reserves and other protected spaces (NB National Parks – Parques Nacionales – are excluded from this devolved power) and the regions have a diverse interpretation of these powers, for example both Cantabria and Navarre are extremely restrictive whilst Catalonia is ‘open’, allowing, almost encouraging, motors to pass through reserves albeit on given specified trails – in fact it’s often easier to navigate in these areas since as long as you don’t pass a ‘No Entry’ sign you can’t get lost!
About the table: The regions have an agreed ‘Initial’ that corresponds with secondary roads that are under their management – note that ‘tertiary’ roads are numbered according to the initial letters of provinces where these are managed at that level although in practice both of these, along with the national ‘N’ roads can be of the same standard. See separate notes below.
Some regions specify maximum numbers of motor vehicles that may pass together in a ‘convoy’ – note that Catalonia differentiates between cars and bikes – I would class a ‘quad’ as a car! Aragon specifies a 30 minute ‘gap’ between convoys and this is a sensible idea throughout for safety as much as respecting other users – some trails are very popular with mountain bikers, etc. especially at weekends and holidays. So, it is worth taking these restrictions seriously as the fines can be severe, up to €6,000 in Catalonia for being at the head of an oversized group (€600 for each of the followers too) and up to €30,000 for more serious infractions such as not getting permission/insurance for a ‘sporting’ event.
The notes refer to specific differences that are too wide ranging to tabulate but this list is not exhaustive, there are more rules that are either broadly the same as the ‘generic’ rules and others that details permissions, etc. that shouldn’t apply to private individuals.
|Region / Initial||Max nº||Width||Max Speed||Notes|
|Andalusia / A||A1|
|Aragon / A||5||30kph|
|Asturias / AS|
|Basque Country / n/a|
|Cantabria / CA|
|Castilla-la-Mancha / CM||3||4m||30kph||CM1, CM2|
|Castilla y León / CL||CL1, CL2|
|Catalonia / C||7||4m*||30kph||C1, C2|
|Extremadura / EX|
|Galicia / n/a||G1|
|Madrid / M||n/a||n/a||n/a||M1|
|Murcia / MU|
|Navarre / N||10||2m||40kph||N1, N2|
|La Rioja / LR||5||20kph||LR1|
|Valencia / V||V1|
NB: Galicia and The Basque Country use only provincial codes to identify secondary roads.
A1: Total prohibition for motor vehicles on trails that run in or near forests between June 1st and October 15th
CL1: specifically allowed to ride on drover’s trail routes, i.e. Cañadas Reales
CL2: specifically prohibits footpaths
CM1: ‘sports’ vehicles e.g. trial and enduro bikes and quads prohibited except for specifically authorized trails
CM2: specifically prohibits non-standard lights, etc.
C1: limit to 4 cars
C2: private landowners may allow traffic on trails of less than 4m
G1: motor vehicles are prohibited on forest trails or any that are not listed on the ‘road’ network
M1: all ‘public’ access to trails are totally prohibited to motors!
N1: motors are prohibited on fire breaks and forest access trails
N2: specific exclusion zones: all nature reserves, trails on the Camino de Santiago (Eng: The Way of Saint James)
LR1: forbidden to ride trails after dark
V1: awaiting conformation …