Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 05. Nerja - Frigiliana
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: A-7 E-5 direction Nerja up to the exit 295 and direction Nerja Cave.
Starting point: Nerja Cave, about 2 km to the east of town and very close to the settlement of Maro.
Enjoy the walk safely: There are no towns or villages along the whole itinerary. It is recommended to carry a well-stocked rucksack. The only point where you can get drinking water is the rest area, Area Recreativa del Pinarillo, about 5 km from the start. Although you will be walking through mid-size mountains, you must not underestimate the wilderness of the terrain and the changing mountain weather. Be careful walking along the riverbeds of El Chíllar and El Higuerón. You will need to follow them for quite a long section, fi rst ascending and then descending along them. During the seasons of the year when the water rises, you may have to make a decision not to cross the rivers.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: It is possible to walk along El Chíllar river if water level allows. However, it is about 8 km to the first populated area. This is a watercourse walk frequently used by hikers.
Finish point: MA-5105 with the A-92 E-7 as reference.
Possible "escape routes": It is possible to walk along El Chíllar river if water level allows. However, it is about 8 km to the first populated area. This is a watercourse walk frequently used by hikers.
No return point: from the mountain pass which you climb from El Chíllar river, it is best to continue to Frigiliana which is closer (about 6 km away) and the terrain is less rugged. However, the rest area, Area Recreativa del Pinarillo, is located about 4 km away and it has car access.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: Our GR coincides with the fourth and last section of GR-252 (Periana –Cuevas de Nerja). It´s waymarked in the opposite direction, as you can see on the information panels which you can normally fi nd at the finish point, once you have completed the corresponding GR-249 section.
In the vicinity of the El Pinarillo rest area and in the river valleys of Chíllar and Higuerón, there are starting points of footpaths which lead uphill to the main peaks of this part of the sierra.
• Road traffic circulating on the track to El Pinarillo
• Crossing the Coladilla stream, and above all El Chíllar and El Higuerón.
La Coladilla Ravine (Up to km 5.7)
The first 5 kilometres follow a wellmaintained forest track, soon entering and climbing continually up through the Natural Park of the Sierras Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama. Only on one occasion do you need to take a left at a crossroads in the path, when continuing would take you to Romero Ravine and the famous Cuesta del Cielo (Heaven’s Rise). The stream running down the Coladilla Ravine remains on your left and there are narrow pathways that lead off to the side, for rock climbers and hikers to access the gully. The wooded slopes of Cerro Mangüeno then come into view to the east. The flora in this section is as unique as it is interesting and, for this reason, it is important to follow the Environment Ministry’s guidance for its conservation.
Within the cleared Aleppo pine forest are reasonable populations of Confetti trees (Maytenus senegalensis), Spanish Boxwood (Buxus baleárica) and sparsely populated shrubs such as the Spurge Olive tree (Cneorum tricoccum), a rare species native to the coast, with very specific habitat requirements and serving as proof of the tropical climate. These are accompanied by Dwarf Fan Palms, Purple Jerusalem Sage, Esparto Grasses, Mastic trees, Juniper trees, Wild Asparagus, Scorpion broom and a few Carob and Kermes Oak trees.
El Pinarillo Recreational Area (km 4.8) has excellent facilities and is a good spot to replenish drinking water supplies. The path goes all the way through it, leaving the main track and continuing to the north, passing alongside a preserved threshing circle, until it crosses the Coladilla stream. Climbing up a steep footpath, it then takes a track to the left at a fork, where the right leads to the fountain, La Fuente del Esparto. This takes its name from the Esparto Grass, demonstrating its importance to the local economy over the years.
The area is dominated by the highly erosive dolomitic sandstone. During the ascent up to the mountain pass, you see the centre dedicated to the investigation into erosion, belonging to the University of Malaga, Tragsa (Agrarian Transformation Company) and the Regional Government of Andalucia in Nerja municipality. A little further on, a less-trodden pathway takes you to El Collado de los Apretaderas, also named Las Apretaderas.
The river basins of El Chíllar and El Higuerón (To the end of the stage)
The route progresses along a sandy track with the rugged Chíllar valley coming into view, whose trickling streams are within earshot. The track then arrives at the water catchment system, which it soon crosses at the most demanding section for the many water sports enthusiasts who descend the watercourse. It is not uncommon to hear the hustle and bustle of people in the river below; however, they rarely reach as far as the section where the GR-249 crosses the watercourse.
From here, it is easy to see the position of the large gorge of the Canal del Chíllar running down the left-hand side of the valley, seemingly ever higher above the base of the ravine. You cross this water channel while descending La Cuesta de los Galgos (Greyhound’s Hill), where you can appreciate its true size and the volume of water that it carries. Up ahead to the west is La Cuesta Jiménez, just below the gorge of El Tajo las Chorrerillas, which is where the Path leads.
The River Chíllar marks the border between the municipalities of Nerja (up to now) and Frigiliana (to the west) and this is crossed roughly at km 7.7. Its vast V-shaped valley has been carved out by the erosive force of the river in smaller ravines and gorges, with some considerably deeper sections. The valley sides are particularly steep in this section, with almost 1000 metres difference in Height above SLe between the peaks of the Sierra Almijara and its gorges, becoming more pronounced to the east.
The most prevalent forest here is that of Aleppo Pine, while Rosemary is the most abundant of shrubs. These are complemented by Dwarf Fan Palms, Juniper trees, Esparto grasses and Scorpion broom shrubs. Tree covering is sparse in some areas while shrubland dominates in others and some are more densely forested, having escaped past forest fires.
The route progresses on to the next section along a lengthy ridge with teeth-like peaks, cutting across the numerous dried up stream channels. These are all tributaries of the Barranco del Espejo and its twin, the Barranco Ancho, which in turn flow into the Chíllar. Between the two Barrancos (streams) is the mountain pass with the intriguing name of Pinillo del Aire (small Pinetree of the Wind). Just before you reach this, there is a fairly well-preserved lime kiln (km 9.8), a remnant of the days when lime was produced by traditional but almost industrial methods. The Barranco Ancho stream shows signs of a recent fire, with blackened trunks and branches, and vegetation just showing signs of recovering.
At Loma de las Garzas (Herons’ Ridge) you come to a superb observation point. It is the last rocky outpost and one worth stopping at, if not just to look back at the trail covered to the east but also what is up ahead. The descent to the River Higuerón is on the Cuesta del Sordo (Deafman’s Hill), a far more wooded area than the surroundings.
There is then a fair stretch of the Higuerón riverbed to be covered, while weaving your way between pools of water. In reality, it is a dry river channel with a concrete drainage channel at the start, later flowing into a pipeline, covered in Reeds and Oleanders. The Pozo de Batán is an appealing sight, especially in the hotter months even though bathing is prohibited in general. All that remains now is to cross the riverbed and wind your way between the limestone escarpments, which gain height as you advance. You pass overhangs and caves until you reach a steep road going uphill named Cuesta Apero, which heads straight up to the central Plaza del Ingenio in Frigiliana, the final point of the stage.
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