In the Sulcis Iglesiente area there is the largest natural Mediterranean forest in Europe. It consists of thousands of square kilometers, which are managed by the “Azienda Forestale della Regione Sarda”. There are hundreds of kilometers of paths and unpaved roads. Peaks of over 1200 m in height, breathtaking landscapes and an unspoiled nature, offer a real paradise for those who are interested in sport activities in a natural environment, especially mountain biking.
This vast area is home to many different landscapes. The contrast between these ever-varying landscapes makes mountain biking through them an exciting and interesting experience.
We have chosen the following list of interesting areas to go mountain biking. They are all easily reached by car.
Starting from the small church of Santa Lucia, which is near the built-up area of Capoterra, you can visit the beautiful WWF Oasis of Monte Arcosu (948 m), which is overlooked by the mountain from which its name derives, and the amazing rock faces of Monte Lattias (1,086 m), surrounded by a thick, luxuriant forest.
In these unspoiled areas the paths are well sign posted, even if they often present difficulties for a cyclist because of the steep gradients and the condition of the paths and roads.
The numerous natural springs and designated picnic areas allow cyclists to rest in comfort.
From the small church of Santa Lucia you can reach “Is Pauceris Mannus” (720 m) by taking the unpaved road to Santadi. After many kilometers, there are some detours to the left leading along paths which bring you to the forest of the lower Sulcis and continue as far as the mountains which overlook Capoterra and Poggio dei Pini.
Further South, starting from Pula, you can enjoy wonderful excursions to the Is Cannoneris forest where, near the Caserma Forestale, there is a Sardinian deer Preserve. The paths which lead to this area skirt the Monte Nieddu and Lilloni rivulets (where nowadays the new dam “Sa Stria” is being built) and reach Maxia Mountain (1,017 m) and P.ta. Sebera (979 m), from which you can admire most of the Southern part of the Island.
From Pula, you can also ascend Piscina Manna as far as P.ta Sa Cresia (894 m), a beautiful panoramic peak between the sea and the mountains, or you can ascend to P.ta Is Crabus (545 m), which overlooks the coast below Santa Margherita, and continue on to Chia, with its marvelous contrast between the green mountains and the blue sea.
Going a little northward, we enter the Iglesiente area, which is famous for its mines. Between the towns of Villacidro, Domusnovas and Iglesias, there are the state forests of Monti Mannu and Marganai where P.ta S. Michele (910 m) and P.ta Campu Spina (939 m) rise. These rocky ramparts, which stand over the area, offer breathtaking views to visitors.
The natural beauty of this area arouses extraordinary emotions. The jewels in the crown are the beautiful waterfalls of Muru Mannu, Piscina Irgas and sa Spendula. Contrasting with this natural beauty are the numerous fascinating abandoned mining villages in the areas of Malacalzetta, Reigraxius, Candiazzus and Arenas. These abandoned villages are still attending renovation, and will hopefully be part of a geo mining open-air museum.
The Antas temple is worth a visit. It is an ancient Punic-Roman ruin, located in a natural paradise. It is also worthwhile visiting the caves of Su Mannau, near Fluminimaggiore. There are thousands of paths which cross this area giving access to cyclists. The most interesting places and the most beautiful woods are all easily accessible.
Moving towards the sea, we reach Buggerru, another mining area. The landscape is wild and harsh particularly along the coast where the breathtaking inlet of Cala Domestica is situated. Along the stretch between Nebida and Masua there is the solitary rock of Pan di Zucchero, which rises imposingly from the sea opposite the mines of Porto Flavia.
In the hinterland another of nature’s wonders can be admired: the deep gorge carved by the Gutturu Cardaxius rivulet over the centuries (it is a few hundred meters deep), which can be cycled using a fascinating, narrow path.
A little north, there are the Monte Linas mountains, with P.ta Perda de sa Mesa (1,236 m), the highest peak in the Cagliari province. A sequence of rocky headlands rises skywards with their almost vertical faces, creating unbelievable leaps in the dark where some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Sardinia flow.
Down in the valley, the wood of Per’e Pibera leads to Gonnosfanadiga, from where various rough paths start. These paths climb through the mountains and offer cyclists real adventures.
Iglesiente ends northwards with Arbus and Guspini, bordering on the province of Oristano and on the sea, where the peninsula of Capo Frasca marks one of the two limits of the immense natural port of the Gulf of Oristano.
In the center of this area there is the Montevecchio mining complex, surrounded by rough mountains, the highest peak of which is Monte Arcuentu (748 m). Its headland is similar in shape to Napoleon’s hat. This very rough and charming landscape consists of numerous rocky headlands and jagged peaks.
Going towards the sea, you come across mining sites, wells and washing plants like those in Ingurtosu and Naracauli villages. These are phantom villages, where the remains of the old buildings are settled in a rough and desolate landscape.
An interesting place is Is Arenas, which extends for many kilometers with its dunes, sandy mountains sloping down into the storming sea of Piscinas. On the beach, there is an old mining building which has been restored and now is a hotel resort.
This area is full of paths which can be ridden and the rivers which cross the land wash away the mineral remains which often color their waters.