Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 29. Casares - Estepona
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: Casares is very close to the coastline with its motorways Autovías A-7 y AP-7. You can arrive directly using the motorways via the MA-8300 road or connecting from Manilva, the A-377 which goes to Gaucín and then taking the A-7150. Estepona can be reached from Casares directly via a road with no official number which splits off the MA-8300
and passes through Los Pedregales.
Finish point: A little footbridge of Paseo
Starting point: Calle de la Carrera, very close to Plaza de España, in the village of Casares.
Enjoy the walk safely: A stage of this length and diffi culty level needs to be carefully planned. Fortunately, and as stated above, there are many escape routes and also a possibility of dividing the walk into two legs.
The two road sections are short, without too much traffi c and generally the visibility is good. This doesn´t mean you shouldn´t take care when walking along theses sections. The country tracks have even less traffi c. Perhaps the Acedía and Valle del Padrón can possibly get a bit busier.
The many streams you need to cross do not tend to pose any danger and any bigger watercourses are rather token ones. There is no possibility to stock up on water unless you take a detour to Parque de Los Pedregales, a public area of Estepona. What you do need to address is the possibility of sunstroke in Sierra Bermeja, which faces south and is virtually devoid of shade along the deforested areas.
High voltage power lines, which keep the GR company in the sierra, could be potentially dangerous. You must not touch the electricity towers under any circumstances, especially during rain or thunderstorms.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: The relevant roads are Autovía A-7 and the Autopista de Peaje AP-7, there is also a direct road from Serranía de Ronda which arrives in the centre of Estepona coming from Jubrique and which is used by the Gran Senda de Málaga during one section, the MA-8301.
Finish point: A little footbridge of Paseo Marítimo de Estepona over the Río de la Cala, in the eastern part of Playa de la Cala.
Possible "escape routes”: It is worth knowing that the 29, being such a long and hard stage, has good escape routes on both sides of the roads it crosses. Towards Casares you proceed to the left on the fi rst section of the tarmac. The second section of the tarmac takes you down to Estepona. In the middle, the best point to abandon the walk, also proposed as possible point where you can divide the stage in two, is the Parque de Los Pedregales (km 13.5).
No return point: The only section to keep in mind is the Sierra Bermeja, given the abovementioned escape routs. There, once you have gone up the highest point of the itinerary, it still doesn´t matter if you continue or go back. Once you arrive at the track again it is recommended that you continue. In the fi nal section, however, once the tracks start leading downhill again it is best to continue, following them to the end, as they get you closer and closer to Estepona.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
PR-A 162, Casares – Manilva, overlap until Point 4 (km 2), and PR-A 164, Estepona – Los Reales, overlap from km 19 to km 20,7.
The Bujeos soils of Casares and Los Molinos stream (Up to km 7)
The route starts on Carrera street, the location of the childhood home of Blas Infante, and passes through the Plaza de Espa a (Spain Square), past its eighteenth-century Carlos III fountain. Continuing down Juan Cer n street, it leaves the southern part of the whitewashed village of Casares along Molino street. You pass by a few lookout spots and then under the 320-metre-long zip line. The first crossing of paths is in a somewhat abandoned area, due to an old gravel quarry that took advantage of the dolomite rock. There are small caves occupied by makeshift huts, a riding arena, some kennels and chicken huts.
The limestone hill of La Horca is the site of the new circular cemetery, which bears a strong resemblance to the famous Casares Castle. From the adjacent crossroads, some of the municipal hiking routes go off to the right, towards Jimena de la Frontera and the Guadiaro River.
The route heads south, passing the hill on your right, and for a short while coincides with the PR A-162 of Casares to Manilva. In just a short distance, it changes from the grey rocks of Casares to bujeo soils as a result of the intrusion of the Aljibe sandstone Flysch. Exactly where the two rocks meet, is the meagre spring of Santa Catalina. Many pools in the stream, created over many periods are still intact, due to the running water. Solid masonry and brick walls of a former Carabineros police barracks are also standing, having once been a convent.
The landscape is dominated by clayey soil with Wild Olive, Mastic and Carob trees and a few Fig and Almond trees. The piles of the Aljibe sandstone rocks, provide a good idea as to the true origin of these slopes. At kilometre 1.9, you finally turn off the wide track to the east. The recommended PR-162 trail option (a Short Distance footpath) continues along this towards La Hedionda Baths.
You soon reach a rather special spot, Los Molinos stream, the main tributary of the River Manilva. Its crystal-clear waters flow out of the karst spring into an irrigation channel that supplies the nearby Arriba water mill. It has a couple of water outlets and has been well-preserved overall. The channel continues on towards the next water mill, however the path crosses it above the mill and starts to climb uphill. The terrain here tends to get waterlogged and has a dense covering of shrubs on the bujeo soils. In addition to previous species are the Spiny brooms, Mastics, Dwarf fan palms and Broadleaved Phillyrea.
The extensive and fenced-off country estate of El Robledal, despite having its own vines, is mainly used for horse breeding. Land either side of the path belongs to the estate as you pass through it for a stretch, until you come to cross the Pocas Libras stream. This has an abundance of Brambles and Tamarisks, but is normally dried up. Some abandoned quarries, now converted into a refuse tip, appear on the right as you climb once again. If you look back, you will see the wind turbines in the distance, next to the A-377 road and the white village of Casares.
You then arrive at a crossroads at the top of the Matute ridge, with signposts to the Los Higos hill and the main entrance to El Robledal country estate. This series of hills is crowned by a track heading north, which passes farmhouses with small vegetable gardens, woods of Cork oak and disused fields repossessed by scrubland on both sides. This brings you to the kilometre 9 marker on the MA- 8300 road, among Pine forest with Gum rockrose and mature Cork oak woodland.
The ravine of the Arroyo Vaqueros stream and La Acedía (Up to km 11)
Continue along the road for a little over a kilometre, but stop off at the Pe as Blancas viewpoint. It offers excellent views over the middle part of the stage, from La Aced a to Sierra Bermeja. There is also an information panel that helps to identify the landmarks to the north and east. The municipal hiking route of Pasada del Pino-La Acedía runs through this area and is of particular interest because it leads to a refuse point where scavenger birds feed.
The steep slope down to La Acedía and the large number of luxury properties at the bottom of the valley means the old track is tarmacked. Winding and weaving, the route goes through a promising young Cork oak forest with Gall oaks and a fairly diverse scrubland. It does so until the ford through the Vaquero stream, with its White willows and Reed beds surrounding pools of fish.
Leaving the subtropical crops and landscaped gardens behind, you begin to climb along country tracks through the Public Uplands of La Aced a, that are used less and less. At first glance, the forest looks to be purely Cork oaks, but the scrub is gradually gaining ground in the more open areas. It is weaving a mesh of Heather, Gum rockrose, Wild Olive trees, Broad-leaved Phillyreas, Gorse and Spiny Brooms. In the shaded areas or those with slightly more humid soil, there are Gall oaks and Wild Strawberry trees.
You then arrive at the confluence of the Palo stream with another tributary, whose course you follow as you climb. On the northern slope, a Maritime pine forest with Cork oaks has developed, where you pass Villa Bermeja on your left. You then climb, allowing the opportunity to see the ruins of the Casa del Teniente (the Lieutenant’s House) on the other side of the valley, with its water outlet in the form of an arch.
The southern slopes of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range (Up to km 19)
At kilometre 11, you leave the track and take the path heading east. You are now in the Sierra Bermeja, whose rugged outcrops have a very treeless appearance, except for the occasional Pine tree settled on the reforested terraces. The path descends to close to the local refuse tip, fords the stream that feeds the upper pool, then approaches the tip’s perimeter fence. Attracted by this human activity, seagulls and other scavenger birds are easy to spot.
Up ahead, you will see an isolated clump of woodland that survived the last wild fire. This badly affected the area and left a couple of properties in ruins. Almost immediately after this, you see an industrial estate on your right, just before fording the Barranco del Infierno (Hell’s Stream). Entering the next municipal area, you climb up to a natural viewpoint after passing the access to the Los Pedregales Park on your right. This is a good place to stock up on water and visit the Corominas dolmens.
The climb that follows this, uses service roads for the electricity pylons, with a few pathways in between. When you reach the enormous ravine at the head of the La Miel stream, you are gifted with the best views of the whole stage, looking over the Bay of Estepona and the Strait of Gibraltar. From here, you have to climb up a footpath to the highest point of the stage (515 m, kilometre 16.2). Then, you drop down again to another tall metal tower where you join a less-trodden country track.
There is a fairly insignificant amount of Maritime pine forest around the footpath and instead, the red peridotite rock is covered sparsely by bushes of Kermes oak, Spanish and other Brooms and Esparto grasses with Purple Jerusalem sage and White rockroses. Nevertheless, the surviving Pines have unique, twisted and tortuous forms as a result of the hostile environment created by the rocks of the Earth’s mantle.
In the ravines of Los Polvitos, Las Minas and Guadalob n, especially in the areas less exposed to the sun and in the valley bottoms, the Pine forest has managed to survive, sometimes becoming extremely dense.
The Guadalobón is the only watercourse crossed which flows year-round. Nonetheless, all the channels are filled with water during the rainy season, creating a spectacle of contrasting colours between the red rocks and the frothing white-water in its dramatic descent.
The descent down to Estepona (To the end of the stage)
The ridges that form the watersheds in this part of the Sierra run south, the same direction you take at a sharp turn after 19 kilometres. Leaving the track, you join the PR-A 164 which climbs up to Sierra Bermeja from here. At times the path enters very dense Pine forests, but this changes all of a sudden when you leave the rocky ground, in favour of tracks running over slate and clay. Rural properties and country houses are spread over the land, taking advantage of the deeper soils, despite the steep slopes.
Plantations of subtropical trees reach all the way up to this height, and are interspersed with pens for livestock and the traditional rainfed farmland of Estepona. There is a very steep stretch of country track and another turn-off takes you down to the bottom of the Monterroso ravine. From here until the end of the Stage, you continue along tarmac tracks passing by second homes, plots of vegetables and the famous Fig and Almond orchards of the area. Passing underneath the motorway signals the last kilometre of the Stage, before reaching the meeting point of the stream and Juan Carlos I avenue.
Discover more about the province of Malaga
- Discover more about the province of Malaga