The Escalera Arabe – the Arabic staircase
A hike up the Arabic staircase is a classic route and the most popular walk in the Desfiladero de Los Gaitanes Natural Park. If doing one hike in the area, this should be it.
The exact origins of the staircase are unknown. The general consensus is that they were built in the 15C by Mozarabs as part of their trading routes.
This is the view from the top of the Arabic staircase.
Most of the routes up the Arabic staircase are linear. You go up and come back down the same way you came.
This particular one is circular. After climbing the Arabic staircase, you loop back around through the woods, going towards the Valle de Abdalajis and onto El Chorro.
This is an easy and beautiful hike that starts and ends at El Chorro’s train station. The route is straightforward and suitable for families.
It is, however, 10kms long with around six hundred metres of accumulated height.
Although the path leading to the Arabic Staircase has been improved over the years, there are still sections where you can feel ‘exposed.’
Keep an eye on the younger hikers and remember this is climbing country, it’s steep and mountainous. If you suffer from vertigo, this is not a good place to be.
Notwithstanding, this is a hike we have been doing for years as a family.
There are plenty of great places to stop off for a picnic en route and on a clear day, the views are unbeatable.
El Chorro train station: the start of the hike
The walk starts and ends at El Chorro’s train station. There’s a small outdoor cafe that sits on the platform (you can’t miss it), running parallel to it is a small road that cuts through the centre of El Chorro.
This is the road to follow. It’s labelled ‘el Sendero del Rio’.
If El Chorro is busy and there’s nowhere to park, we sometimes drive on a bit and start just outside of the village.
You can follow the instructions and track here. These two routes connect.
Keep following the road as it winds leftwards, going past a climber’s hostel and towards the woods. You’ll be walking with the Embalse (reservoir) on your left.
The road quickly becomes a forestry track and winds up into the mountains. There used to be a campsite here, which was closed down following the opening of the new Camino del Rey.
Follow this path for approximately 3kms. It leads straight to the access for the Arabic staircase – waypoint marked.
You can cut through the woods. There are various smaller paths you can easily follow (part of this track does so on the way down). They all lead to the same destination and eventually rejoin the main forestry track. Just watch out for mountain bikers, they come shooting down these paths.
After approximately you’ll come to the turning for the Arabic staircase. The path has been cleaned and is easy to follow.
Make your way to the top. Enjoy the views and keep climbing the mountain behind.
From here you cut across fields towards a farm (called the Cortijo Campedrero).
There are several paths going upwards. They all lead back into the woods and rejoin the main forestry track. I marked a good spot for a picnic on the route.
The track winds through the woods and eventually comes out near the Valle de Abdalajis. The views are spectacular here. Turning right at the junction you follow this track back down to El Chorro.
With thanks to Marco, the better pictures are his!
To download the full track see here.
For similar hikes in the area – see the
longer circular route that crosses the Sierra de Huma and climbing La Huma & the Tajo del Estudiante via the Valle de Abdalajis