The Parque Natural de la Sierra de las Nieves is one of the best preserved and most beautiful natural parks in Spain. Designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1994 , it is home to one of last remaining Spanish fir (Pinsapo) forests in the world. A tree that dates from the ice age.
The Natural Park is soon to be reclassified as a National Park, making it Andalucia’s third, along with Doñana and Sierra Nevada. The new status will give it further protection.
A hiker’s and mountaineer’s paradise, the relief is characterised by steep escarpments and limestone landscape punctuated by numerous chasms. One of the world’s deepest chasms, known as GESM (named after the group who discovered it, the Grupo de Exploraciones Subterráneas de Málaga – one of the sections of our mountaineering club) is located within the confines of the park.
Circular route from the Mirador de Puerto Saucillo
The route below provides a great introduction to the Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park. It’s one of our favourites and one we do at least once a year.
The circular route is about 8kms and relatively straightforward. Although I classified it as ‘child friendly,’ bear in mind this is high mountain (you start and stay above 1000m), the terrain is fairly rough in places, there are many spots without mobile phone coverage and conditions can change very quickly. If going with young children, please take care.
Drive through the village of Yunquera and you’ll come to a roundabout with a petrol station on your left. There are signs to the natural park, although they aren’t that clearly visible, take a sharp left at the roundabout. Keep following this road as it winds rightwards and towards the mountains. You’ll pass the municipal sports centre. Just past the sports centre, the road becomes a track. Always stay on the right and follow the track as it winds further into the mountains. Bar heavy rain and/or snow, the track is usually in good condition and passable in a normal car.
After 5.4 kms you’ll come to a small parking area and a gate. Due to fire risk, access to the natural park is restricted during the summer months. The gate is normally opened on October 15th and stays open until mid-May. These dates can change according to weather conditions. If there’s been a particularly long and dry summer, access will be restricted until the first rains arrive.
If need-be, you can park here and walk. This will add an extra 3kms onto the route (one way).
After passing the gate, you’ll come to a fork in the track. You have two choices. Taking a left will take you onto the Mirador Luis Ceballos, we’re going right to the Mirador de Puerto Saucillo.
When getting to the top, park as best you can. The walk starts here. Follow the track below.
The path is well marked at first and forms part of a more popular circular (4km) walk – Puerto Saucillo – Puerto Bellina. For more information on this walk see here.
After approximately 1 kms you’ll come to a Pinsapo tree known as the Pinsapo del Candelabro. A bit further on, you’ll come to the first junction, take a right here and follow the path as it drops down towards the Cueva del Agua (the water cave). Having visited the cave, double back on yourself and keep following the track.
The scenery is unbeatable. The Pinsapo forest at around the 3.5km mark is like something from a different planet. Here’s a photosphere I took last summer.
Enjoy the hike, remembering you are in one of the most unique ecological areas in Spain. Please treat it with respect.