Walking and mountain biking in Spain’s new Sierra de las Nieves National Park

Walking and mountain biking in Spain’s new Sierra de las Nieves National Park

For those who wish to escape Spain’s coastal tourist hotspots and enjoy the fresh air and unspoiled countryside, there is nowhere better than the Serranía de Ronda and its neighbour, the new National Park of Sierra de las Nieves.

The Serrania de Ronda offers a rich and varied landscape, ranging from high mountains to rural farmland, from ancient forests to limestone karst plains. It is dotted with traditional villages, many of which demonstrate a way of life that has not changed for centuries.

The Sierra de las Nieves just creeps into the eastern reaches of the Serrania de Ronda, expanding for many kilometres to the south and east. It has long been recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, with a dramatic and distinctive mountainous landscape and a diverse range of flora and fauna. Now, after multiple official meetings and delegations, and many years of campaigning, it has recently been declared Andalucía’s third National Park, along with the Sierra Nevada and Doñana. As a result, it will now gain maximum environmental protection and increased government support, with a strong emphasis on the careful and controlled development of tourism activities.

As locally-based guides, we at Hike + 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, as a new addition to our offer, a combined driving and nature-walk tour.

Nature walk in the Sierra de las Nieves

Our “Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park Tour” has been created so that visitors to the area can enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Serranía, the Genal Valley and the Sierra de las Nieves. On this tour we join resources with a unique family business based right in the heart of the Sierra de las Nieves.

From Ronda, we begin with a drive through the dramatic limestone mountains of the upper Genal Valley (Alto Genal) and pass through the white villages of Alpandeire, Farajan, Cartajima and the unusual blue village of Juzcar. We drive through acres of hillsides planted with chestnut trees, which produce some of the finest chestnuts in the world and provide the main income for the seven villages of the Alto Genal.

We continue into the Sierra de las Nieves National Park and to the Cortijo Las Navas, where we meet our guide from Actividades en Sierra de las Nieves. 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 leads 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. The walk finishes with lunch at a unique hut, built by the family from the wood of one single giant pinsapo tree. Lunch includes dishes prepared from locally-hunted game, cooked according to generations-old family recipes.

Mountain biking in the Sierra de las Nieves

For the more active outdoor enthusiast, we offer great guided mountain biking in the Sierra de las Nieves. One of our most popular guided mountain bike rides is “Mountains to the Med”. 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 oak, finishing down by the beaches and marina of Puerto Banus.

This is an exhilarating and fun guided mountain bike ride for intermediate and advanced mountain bikers. It includes nearly 30km of descent, riding on varied, sometimes rocky terrain, with sections of twisting singletrack. The route provides spectacular views all the way, firstly across the pine forests and mountains of the park and then down to the Costa del Sol, Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar and, on a clear day, the distant coastline of North Africa.

Hiking in the Sierra de las Nieves

For walkers, we offer a fantastic guided “Hike up Torrecilla”, the highest mountain in the Sierra de las Nieves, which tops out at 1,919m. 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 emerges from the trees, onto an open plain. Now we enjoy fabulous views across the rocky peaks and the forests below and walk past an old ice store. 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 the climb is complete. Relax, enjoy the amazing views and appreciate the feeling of being on top of the world.

  • You can find out more about all our guided mountain biking, hiking and driving day trips on our website or contact us for more information and enquiries.
Heather Cooper Hike + Bike

About Heather Cooper Hike + Bike

Heather Cooper lives in Ronda with her husband, Wayne. Together they run their business, Hike + Bike the Sierras, which arranges guided and self-guided day trips and holidays for mountain bikers, cyclists and hikers from around the world. Heather and Wayne have unequalled knowledge of the Serrania de Ronda’s tracks and trails and love nothing more than helping people to enjoy the region’s unspoiled countryside.