One of our most popular MTB rides takes in a fantastic trail which starts high in the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park and leads us down through the forests and mountains to finish on the Marbella coast. We took a group down today and they enjoyed glorious sunshine all the way - though the sea looked a bit too chilly for us ordinary souls to take a dip at the end!
The route follows an ancient track, known as the Puerta Verde de Marbella, which has connected Ronda with Marbella for over three thousand years.The ride begins with a climb up from the entrance to the park, past acres of holm and cork oaks.Then we take a side turning onto a more rugged pathway which runs alongside a small stream – which becomes an impressive and fast-flowing river after the winter mountain snowfall. We then make a steady 500 metre climb to rise well above the cultivated forest. Here we find pine trees, wide open spaces and, at the top, a view of the Mediterranean sea in the distance.
At this point, all your climbing efforts are rewarded with a 27km descent to the coast. However, we don't usually recommend just racing downhill as fast as you can, without stopping regularly to take in the views.
We ride down rutted and weather-beaten tracks, past remote mountain farmsteads and the Embalse (lake) de la Concepción. The track is reasonably wide all the way and, although a bit bumpy in places, is do-able by moderately experienced riders. Those with more experience can enjoy some "off-piste" sections which provide a few extra cheeky climbs and some steep and fast descents over firebreaks and rocky trails.
We finish with a little rise to take us up and over the motorway, followed by a final descent down to the coast, finishing up amongst the glamourous villas and golf clubs of the Costa del Sol.
It really is a fantastic and unique ride. If you fancy a dip, there is beach and bars where we finish at Puerto Banus or a little further up the coast at Estepona. Puerto Banus boasts a marina filled with an incredible array of huge cruisers and large yachts, perfect for watching the jet-set (or wannabee jet-set) totter by. We tend to prefer the quieter pleasures of Estepona, where the small marina is surrounded by a selection of pleasant bars and restaurants, perfect for post-ride refreshments.
Heather Cooper, Hike + Bike the Sierras 19/11/2013