Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 31. Marbella - Ojén
1. Initiation Stage :
Access Starting point: From the main streets of Marbella, between the Avenida del Príncipe de Hohenlohe and Ricardo Soriano. In order to get to these use any access roads to Marbella splitting off the A-7 and the AP-7, to the east or west of the city centre.
Starting point: At El Paseo Marítimo de Marbella, at the level of Arroyo de Guadalpín, at the Playa de la Fontanilla beach.
Enjoy the walk safely: Whilst the tangle of many footpaths constitutes one of the main attractions of the Marbella area stage, it might also be an issue should you abandon the sign-posted GR. In any case, it is important to remember that all the possible exits are in the south and also that climbing towards the mountains increases the possibility of difficulties.
A large section of the walk leads underneath an electricity line. Although this should not pose any potential danger, be extra careful if the weather forecasts thunderstorms. There are bee-hives, correctly sign-posted in the Puerto de los Pilones, the fi rst hill in the sierra. Before you reach the Ermita de los Monjes there is a somewhat slippery section due to the stretch of bare rock surface on a slope. It has
been equipped with a rope handrail.
There are few streams you need to wade across and they are shallow, so they do not create any problems in general. However, at the Arroyo del Tajo Negro (at the end of the stage) as well as another tributary before that, there are quite high cascading slopes of travertine rock and you should not approach the edge.
There is no easily accessed water source, especially drinking water source, during the whole stage. The route mainly follows direction north-east however you are walking in the sun in the midst of the Costa del Sol, which should suffi ce as a warning.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: The road which connects Ojén with Marbella (southwards) and Coín is the A-355. The old road which used to connect the village with the Costa del Sol is the one mentioned earlier A-7103, which comes off the A-355 and joins it again later.
Finish point: Western entrance of Ojén, using the old road which crosses the village, the A-7103
3. Alternatives :
Possible "escape routes": Best places to return to Marbella are: the Ermita de los Monjes and the area of Puerto Rico. From these easily identifi able landmarks take any of the paths which lead south and downhill.
No return point: Best places to return to Marbella are: the Ermita de los Monjes and the area of Puerto Rico. From these easily identifi able landmarks take any of the paths which lead south and downhill.
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
PR-A 169, Marbella – Juanar, overlap at Puerto Rico Alto, and GR 243, Sierra de las Nieves, links up in Ojén.
• Road traffic circulating up until km 2.9 & at the end of the Stage
• Mountain footpaths with multiple crossroads
The hills of the sierra around Nagüeles y Camoján (Up to km 5.2)
When the route leaves the mouth of the Guadalpín stream, it starts a climb up to the area around the Palacio de Congresos (Convention Centre). A short walk along Ramón Gómez de la Serna Street leads to crossing Ricardo Soriano Avenue. Head northwest along José Mora y Aragón Avenue and cross over the A-7 motorway in the section where the toll road has not yet split off. The long Butchinger Avenue continues to climb in the north-west and soon becomes Albinoni Street. This leads to the disused quarry that has been converted into an auditorium for a well-known festival.
The hilly Sierra terrain begins after a sharp turn to the north-east at kilometre 2.9. You enter the Sierra Blanca and Nagüeles Public Uplands belonging to Marbella. This Pine forest of Nagüeles is actually very diverse woodland, of thin Aleppo pines with Carob trees, Wild Olive trees and reasonable examples of Savin junipers and Mastics.
Originally a service road for the electrical grid, the road through the Romeral area passes the quarry wall of the now Marbella Auditorium on your left. Behind it is the characteristic La Concha gorge, which you can vaguely see. The track has numerous others branching off it, but make sure to follow the central one. This eventually becomes a footpath and starts to climb steadily up the Las Encinas ravine, to an intersection of paths surrounded by white dolomitic limestone and Esparto grasses. The uphill path would take you towards the Buenavista mines, while the Great Path goes downhill, crosses the Las Piedras stream by some Oleanders (km 4) and then climbs up to the Pilones pass. Keep an eye out here for some beehives.
A downhill then uphill section leads you to the top of the Los Mochileros pass. A third gentle descent leads to another meeting of pathways, with one going off to the south and leading to the Camoján Waterfall housing development. The route climbs up La Janta ravine, one of the richest areas of vegetation due to its orientation providing shade. This is the Stage’s first major climb, up to the Camoján pass (km 5.2). From here, you can see the Monks’ ravine and the Juanar Cross to the south, the bay of Marbella and on a clear day the Strait of Gibraltar and even Morocco.
Los Monjes chapel and Puerto Rico Alto (Up to km 8.5)
You must then make a slight detour to the north, parting company with the power line for good. This takes you along the hillside charred by the fire, and where Esparto grasses now thrive. To reach the bottom of the valley, where Pine forest surrounds the Monks’ Chapel, you go down the path with a handrail (km 6). Very little remains of the 16th century building and from there, paths go either up the mountainside or down to Marbella. The route crosses the stream that flows into the Guadalpín, among old terracing for farming.
The second major climb leads to the Golondrinas pass, with a small path going off to the right. It then climbs northwards along the western slope to the junction at the Pitas pass (km 7.2). Here it turns eastwards and starts to go downhill towards the Laja stream. This is followed by a climb up to the Pino pass, a privileged lookout point.
The steep descent leads to Puerto Rico Alto with its tidy grove of trees and the reddish rockface that borders it to the south. The vegetation becomes very lush, even with Strawberry trees and Cork oaks making an appearance. This is thanks to the soil of of sand and very washed clay, while having very little lime. The Puerto Rico stream (km 8.5), the old irrigation channel, a limekiln and some ruins line the pathway between the two crossroads with the PR A-169 pathway, which links Marbella and Juanar. Between Las Golondrinas pass to that of Puerto Rico, the El Faro pathway shares the same route, but in the opposite directions. Among white Cistus trees, a gentle stretch takes you towards river basin of La Hoya de los Cabañiles. Looking west from here, you can see the wall of the fossil waterfall and its caves, a popular spot for climbing.
El Peñoncillo mines and Ojén’s Sierra Blanca (To the end of the stage)
You soon reach the pass of Los Acebuches, in a less forested area. A short way on, a wide and flat plain comes into view below you, which is an old sealed off landfill site. Further on at the 10.5-kilometre mark, there is a marker just above the cut of the Peñoncillo mines. This is where the route turns from east to north and you are now within the bounds of Ojén, while the milestone identifies the extensive Public Uplands of Sierra Blanca, which is also a Reserva Andaluza de Caza (Andalusian Game Reserve).
You then come to consecutive uphill and downhill sections, next to chalets with swimming pools, sports fields and even tentaderos (small arenas used in bull rearing). This leads to an area of very tall Pine trees surrounding a property. The following chutes fall away to one side, at last provide views of Ojén, which shimmers between the black sierras behind, contrasting with the white marble of a rockslide from a quarry higher up.
You reach the burnt area with a very steep slope, interrupted sharply by the embankment cut for the road. The mountainside still supports a varied thicket of Mastic trees, Dwarf fan palms and Junipers. However, the vegetation is most impressive on the hills covered in Pine that surround the Tajo Negro stream. This has some of the greatest plant diversity on the entire route, and contrast with the areas affected by the disaster. The Pine forest with Wild Olive trees are not as well established, but the scrubland has acquired jungle proportions, thanks to the combination of all the broad-leaved species that have appeared throughout the day.
When you come to the first drinking spot for wildlife, the end of the Stage is not far away. You must make it up to the small hill with communications antennas, follow a track that goes down to the road, passing underneath it and after a series of sharp bends, you reach the western part of Ojén, where the stage ends.
Discover more about the province of Malaga
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