Where to visit in the Sierra Nevada
Some basic facts and figures
In the world there are two Sierra Nevada National Parks, one of them is in the state of Nevada in the USA, the other one is in Spain´s most southern region of Andalusia in the province of Granada. We´ll be talking about the last one.
Part of the UNESCO biosphere reserve, this National Park has the highest peak of the Iberian Peninsula. With 3478 meters, the Mulhacén tops above the other mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The name translates from Spanish to “Snowed Mountain range”. The mountain range stretches 80 km with an average diameter of 20 km2, making up a total of 2000 km2 of Spain´s territory.
The National Park is divided into 2 parts. The northern part is lesser inhabited, and is known for its ski resorts. The southern area is called the “Alpujarras” region, where white villages are scattered around the green mountain slopes.
When best to visit
The Sierra Nevada can be visited all year round. The best period for hiking is in spring when the flowers start blooming. However, if you want to climb up to the peak of the Mulhacén we advise you to go in the summer months, since the snow often hinders the climb up to the top. You can enjoy the winter months visiting the skiing areas.
Cahorros from Monachil
Probably the most famous hike in the Sierra Nevada, because of its combination of being an easy to walk path in combination with spectacular sights. On the northern side of the Sierra Nevada near the town of Monachil you can find the path of the Cahorros.
The area is known for its beautiful limestone canyon. The 8 kilometer walk will go across bridges, rivers and a gorge. It’s a fun hike to do with the family. The begin part of the route is along irrigation channels. From here on you will slowly make your way down to the gorge by walking across a suspension bridge. In the gorge there is a narrow path, where you´ll need to hold on to hinges to not fall into the small river. Ones go pass this part, on your way back you´ll pass olive and almond trees.
Laguna de las Yeguas from Monachil
There are two ways to do this hike. In the summer, together with the children you can take a cable car, up to the highest point and walk to the 8 km. to and from the lakes, from where the cable car drops you off. If not, there is a 15 km. hike from Monachil to these lakes.
During the hike you have the opportunity to see various lakes, the Lajunillos de la Virgen, Dilar, and the mysterious lake, El Misterioso, because it is hidden away. You will walk across green meadows with cows grazing. There are several shrines, and hermitages to be visit, and at its highest peak, you will be able to see the city of Granada lying in the background. You´ll be standing next to the 2nd highest mountain of the Sierra Nevada with 3396 meters, called “Pico Veleta”.
You can take the route back, along the Monachil river, to avoid some tough height differences.
Vereda de la Estrella from Güejar Sierra
Another amazing hiking Trail for you to undertake is from the village of Güejar Sierra, about half an hour north of the previous hikes from Monachil. Some say this trail has some of the most spectacular landscape of the Sierra Nevada, walking along the north walls of the Mulhacén.
There are two trails you can take. The easy one is a loop going through Cortijos de Hornillo and is 14 km. long, while the other one is 22 km. long and 200 meter of level difference (967 meters in total).
The path will take you through a valley and walkinh through the Dehesa de San Juan and pass different rivers. There is a great chance of seeing shepherds leading their goats to place to graze and ruins of farmhouses, decorating the landscape.
On your return you´ll pass some mines called Mina la Probadora, which is an copper mine used until 1957.
Siete Lagunas from Trevélez
The “Seven lakes” hike can best be done from the town of Trévelez, one of Spain´s highest villages at 1476 meters, best known for its ham. Trévelez is located in the Alpujarras region on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada.
This route is for those with a good physical condition, since the route will get you up to 2895 meters, a difference of 1500 meters,. The walk is 18 km. and a steady climb upwards, and well indicated with signs. The walk goes through green meadows, walking past rivers and forests. The final climb is very rocky where good boots are essential. The lake area is also used as a base camp for climbing the Mulhacén, for those who would like the extra challenge.
The white villages of Alpujarras: Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira
The most typical villages of the Alpujarras region are Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira, situated in the Poqueira valley. The three villages are easy within reach while hiking in the area, and there are several circular hikes you can undertake.
Capileira is the highest village and offers the best views of Poquiera valley, while Bubión is the smallest of the three and best conserved with a museum of a typical house, dating back from the 19th century. Pampaneira has its own character, with its narrow alley streets dating back to the era when the Arabs were still dominating the area.
As you can see the Sierra Nevada has a lot to offer for all ages, all levels of physical condition, and likes and dislikes. There are literally hundreds of other routes available, so feel free if you want more information if you want more information on one of these routes, or couldn´t find one that suited you.