Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 09. Periana - Riogordo
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: The access road is the A-6118, or from the A-7 A-335 or by the A-3100 from Colmenar.
Starting point: Eastern area of Periana, follow the Torre del Mar Avenue and leave the village along Algarrobo Street.
Enjoy the walk safely: Caution is needed at the intersection of the road from Alfarnate and in through the Alfarnatejo. Tracks which this stage crosses are heavily used by two-wheeled vehicles, which, if theytravel downhill, can carry enough speed.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: MA-4102 road, which climbs to Alfarnatejo.
Finish point: Hamlet of higher Pulgarin, road MA-4102, close to lower Pulgarin.
Possible "escape routes": The village of Guaro is a good point of reference as a place to look for help if necessary
No return point: At the highest point of travel, where it is connected with the GR-7 E4, it is better to go to Guaro. Then, from the viewpoint Mirador del Tramo onwards it is preferable to continue to Lower Pulgarin.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
The GR-7 E-4 Tarifa-Athens, overlap from km ,5 from Villanueva de Cauche, has two branches. Southern Branch goes to the province of Granada, the other one heads to Córdoba, and could be an alternative to discover in later stages of the Great Málaga Path. The Southern Branch in Málaga consists of three phases. In regards to this stage two phases are relevant: of Riogordo to Guaro and to Zafarraya.
The ones called “end of the railway” (km 4.5) and high Pulgarin coincide with the GR geographically, although not in the sense of the description that appears in the panels. From Periana to km 4.5 the surface of the route is that of the old railway which used to run between Periana and Zafarraya, the line westward following the GR from here.
Between the Marchamona junction and the Cortijo de la Cueva the trail coincides with the Royal Path of Málaga to Granada coming up the hill from the west, from the village of Riogordo. Finally el Sendero de Diputación Provincial de Málaga known as Boquete de Zafarraya-Mondrón can also be undertaken in the Cerro López.
Enlaces a otros senderos y Vías Pecuarias:
- GR 242 Links up at the start point
- GR 7 E 4 Partially overlaps from 4.5km mark and links up in Riogordo
- SL-A 328 Doña Ana & Sabar, links up at the River Sabar.
• Encountering farm vehicles
• Crossing main roads
• Crossing the River Sabar without a bridge
The railway line to Zafarraya (Up to km 4.5)
The route begins winding through the whitewashed houses of Periana, before taking a right-hand turn up a steep slope, off the main street of Calle Torre del Mar. It is part of an old livestock path which goes from the town to Boquete de Zafarraya and later connects to a wider track. Close to Periana and La Muela station, the path links up with the old suburban railway line, which it follows until km 4.5. This is the line that once ran from Malaga to Ventas de Zafarraya, completed in 1922 but dismantled in 1960. However, only a few sections of track and its infrastructure remain intact, such as viaducts and bridges.
The surface underfoot is fairly firm here and the unsurfaced track gently goes uphill. Further on, you pass by a quarry that has been converted into a landfill, while the path gradually becomes surrounded by limestone hills that the road cuts through to form channels.
Around the country estate of Los Peñones (3.2km), there are some excellent views of the lower Axarquía region, which the earlier stages of the Great Path pass through. A little further up, the track curves gradually round to the right, bringing a relatively high limestone crag into sight. Sheltered below is tall thicket of Oak, Weaver’s, White and Spanish broom and Kermes oaks.
You pass the turnoffs to El Fuerte and Mezquita and climb up to a hilltop between the Mosquitos and de Lopez Peaks. At this point, you leave the old railway line. Note the fantastic views, both to the east and west along the Central Limestone Arc and the tall Aleppo pines which line the way and help reinforce the slopes.
The farmhouses & hamlets of Periana & Alfarnatejo (Up to km 11.5)
After a sharp change of direction, the road drops down to the west and immediately passes the turn off to Marchamona on the right (km 5.1). Almost two kilometres on, the village of Guaro has a handful of dwellings and some 80 inhabitants who tend to both rainfed and irrigated fields and extensive livestock farmland. Apart from the more established towns, there are countless small properties here, ranging from farmhouses to large country estates. The route runs right along the foot of the mountain, with peaks rising 700 metres above the road, with occasional wooded slopes. The limestone comes into contact with clay, giving rise to the numerous water sources and springs, such as the nearby Baños de Vilo.
At the Zapata farmhouse, the southern side of the Sierra de Enmedio is covered in dense woodland of wild Olive trees. The path becomes a forest track, with successive branches leading off to the left (not to be taken), in an area of dense Mediterranean forest used for hunting. After one last hillock is the farmhouse of La Cueva, built into the side of a rock needle, the route continues along a secondary track to the west, and slightly to the south. It soon comes to pass the large country estate of Las Monjas on your left along a track of gravel and tarmac. Here there are a couple of covered wells that are so characteristic of the area.
It then crosses the MA-4102 road, which climbs to the right towards the nearby Pulgarín Alto & Bajo. Dropping down 200 metres alongside an olive grove, the route follows a small stream.
The River and mountain pass Sabar (To the end of the stage)
Crossing the A-7204, it first runs along the stream bed itself and later a country track. Passing a farmhouse on your right, where it turns to the south and drops down to the River Sabar through farmland. The riverside vegetation is abundant here, with mainly Ash, Willow trees, Reeds and Oleanders, while Olive trees and hundred-year-old Carob trees with sinuous trunks are common on both banks.
After fording the river, it climbs some 100 metres in height along the wide dirt track that continues in the same southerly direction and passes the abandoned La Botija farmhouse, which is on the left. At the top are multiple turn offs, where the path takes a north-westerly direction, over very clayey soil. Up to the Sabar pass, it continually takes the main branch along the crest of the hill, from where several concreted tracks branch off, with country houses and scattered Holm oaks. Below and behind you is Periana, while the rocky crags and the villages of the upper Axarquia can be seen from successive viewpoints, such as Comares and Colmenar. Now in descent, you carefully cross the same road once again, at its 18-kilometre mark, and come to is a small slope up to another high point, where it then turns south-west.
Up ahead to the north, the imposing massifs of Doña Ana and Gomer gorges stand out among olive groves and farmland.
The track starts off as concreted, passing country houses on both sides on its way down, and then becomes an earth track from close to the road, where there is refuse tip. In front now are the hills of the Montes de Málaga, along with the Santo Pitar and Comares peaks. Continuing through Almond and Olive trees, it soon reaches Las Morenas stream with its Rushes and Giant Reeds, which it crosses near a well. After a slight ascent, it continues downhill, passing under the A-356 road, and at the crossroads you come to, turn right onto the main gravel track. With the stream on the left, the descent leads to the first houses, the tarmac appears and the Stage ends at the Camino Baños de Vilo, in Riogordo.
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