Outdoor Activities in the Sierra de las Nieves
Just over 100 years ago, Spain created its first National Park, the Picos de Europa, in northern Spain. As the development of National Parks expanded, Andalucia became the location for two of them - the Sierra Nevada, near Granada, and the Doñana, close to Cádiz in the south west of Spain. Now Andalucía is celebrating the classification of the nation’s sixteenth National Park, the Sierra de las Nieves near Ronda.
The Sierra de las Nieves has long been recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty – its dramatic and distinctive landscape is filled with rugged mountains, ancient forests and diverse flora and fauna. It was already a Natural Park but now, as a National Park, it will gain maximum environmental protection and increased government support. There will be more stringent regulations controlling construction, hunting, fishing and commercial enterprises but funding will be provided to help develop and increase tourism, albeit in a controlled and careful manner.
As locally-based guides, we at Hike and Bike the Sierras are delighted to be able to show visitors many different aspects of the Sierra de las Nieves park. We do this on mountain bikes, on hiking tours and also, as a new addition to our offer, a combined driving and nature-walk tour, as we join resources with a unique family business based right in the heart of the park.
Mountain Biking in the Sierra de las Nieves – Puerta Verde de Marbella
One of our most popular guided mountain bike rides is ‘Mountains to the Mediterranean’. This is a stunning, 40km off-road route, almost entirely inside the National Park. It largely follows the Puerta Verde de Marbella, an ancient drovers’ route which twists down through the mountains, through remote and varied landscapes of pine forest and cork oaks. Most of the cork oaks were planted by the drovers as they led their animals from the inland villages and pastures to the coastal markets. The bark from the trees provided them with an additional valuable product to sell at their destinations. The bark takes around 9 years to grow, so the drovers planted the trees alongside the route, and on each journey down the mountain they would harvest the cork from a few of them, leaving trees at different stages of growth all along the trail.
Nowadays, there are more mountain bikers than drovers enjoying the spectacular views and scenery all along the route. This ride is fantastic for intermediate level mountain bikers or above (but not beginners), as it incorporates varied terrain, long, sometimes rocky descents and a few notable uphill sections. It’s an invigorating ride which makes the most of the park’s glorious unspoiled mountain landscape.
Hiking in the Sierra de las Nieves – Torrecilla
The highest mountain in the Sierra de las Nieves park is Torrecilla, topping out at 1,919m and we climb up it on our ‘Torrecilla Ascent’ hiking day trip. The hiking trail which leads up to the peak is quite challenging and not to be undertaken lightly but the views from the top are spectacular.
The lower reaches of the walk head up on a tiny path through dense pine forest. The trail gains height quickly then suddenly you are out of the trees and on an open plain, with views across the rocky peaks and the forests below. The path remains flattish for a while, giving a brief respite from climbing, but then the final ascent is a short, sharp zig-zagging trail which leads to a trig point and confirmation that you have completed your task. Relax, enjoy the views and appreciate the feeling of being on top of the world.
Nature Walk in the Sierra de las Nieves
We are delighted to introduce our new activity in the Sierra de las Nieves, in partnership with Actividades en Sierra de las Nieves. Our ‘Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park Tour’ begins with a drive through the dramatic limestone mountains of the Genal Valley. We stop in the unusual blue village of Juzcar and see the acres of chestnut trees which produce some of the finest chestnuts in the world, providing the main income for many tiny villages dotted through the mountains.
We continue into the Sierra de las Nieves National Park and to the Cortijo Las Navas, where we meet our guide. The cortijo and a wide area of restricted-access land around it has been owned and managed by the same local family for many generations. A member of the family will lead you on a walk through the forest, explaining facts about the land and, in particular, the rare ‘pinsapo’ tree, or Spanish fir. The pinsapo is an evergreen conifer which can grow up to 30m tall and is native to southern Spain and a few parts of Morocco. It has a distinctive grey-green colour which creates a beautiful contrast with the cork oaks and other trees which make up the forest.
Fallow and roe deer, ibex, muflon and wild boar all roam freely through the forest although they generally hide from view. The family work with the local environment authorities to protect the forest and control the numbers of wild animals. When animals have to be culled, nothing goes to waste, and recipes for local game dishes have been handed down through local families. The Nature Walk ends at a unique hut in the forest, built from the wood of one single giant pinsapo tree which fell naturally some years ago. At the hut you will enjoy a lunch based upon some of these delicious and authentic recipes of the region.
This tour makes an exciting addition to our range of day trips which we run in the Serranía de Ronda and nearby countryside. All our trips offer something special, be it physical exercise, family fun, immersion in nature or exploration of local culture and customs – or maybe even all four!
You can find out more about all our biking, hiking and driving day trips on our website page Hike and Bike the Sierras – Day Trips
Contact Us to book any of our Day Trips
Join the Adventure!
Heather Cooper, Hike + Bike 3/5/2021