The climb itself is only 10km long and tops out at 950m, but to get to its base you’ll have to conquer a few hundred metres of climbing – especially if you’ve cycled up from the coast. The road to the summit isn’t too difficult, averaging 6% with a handful of flat, plateaued sections to give your legs a deserved moment of respite.
A series of sinuous hairpins lie at the halfway point, creating a welcoming staircase up the steeper face of La Mussara. The gradients stay consistent here and afford some stunning views of the meandering mountain road below, carving a path through the crumbling houses around the abandoned town. One final drag to the summit is then rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views back towards the coast and the busy harbour of Tarragona.
The area surrounding La Mussara is eerily quiet, the locals peddling tales of ghosts and spirits that wander around the crumbling walls of the town. Despite the ghost stories, the area is a popular place for pre-season training camps – the combination of flat coastal roads and long mountain efforts attractive for those preparing for a season full of fast-paced racing. While the climb has never featured at the Vuelta, the Volta a Catalunya has ridden it once, but in a speedy descent during the 2017 edition – the organisers clearly eager to get away from the haunted hills as quick as possible.
There are few options for tourists around La Mussara, but as you head closer towards Tarragona and the coast, you’ll come across some more suitable locations to set up your cycling base camp.