Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Stage 20. Embalses del Guadalhorce - Estación de El Chorro (Álora)
1. Initiation Stage:
Access Starting point: From A-357 road between Campillos and Ardales take the A-7286 then exit, following the signs to Pantanos on an unmarked road. Coming from Ardales take the MA-5403 to the Puerto de la Atalaya. There, the
described service road leads to the reservoirs. Take the road leading downhill, the MA-4400, to get to El Chorro.
Starting point: Reservoirs of the Guadalhorce and the Guadalteba, where both dams meet.
Enjoy the walk safely: The total of ascents and descents, the length of the route, the walk´s altitude and its solitude require planning this stage in detail. The road at the beginning of the stage has very little traffic but it is narrow and sometimes offers little visibility.
There is no possibility of stocking up on drinking water. The water from the Fuente de la Viuda spring has not been treated for consumption. The area of pine forest is very dense. Also, here you must take extra precautions to prevent forest fi res. You will cross the Arroyo del Chorro stream bed twice, but it is so unlikely that it will contain any water that there was no need to mark these crossings as fords on the corresponding icon of this stage.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: From the Puerto de la Atalaya, access as described above. From Álora, take the A-343 and turn off at the Valle de Abdalajís to follow the MA-4401 or directly from the MA-3401.
Finish point: The train stop at the Estación deEl Chorro.
Possible "escape routes": In the fi rst section the “escape plan” is clear: down the network of tracks to the dam of Guadalhorce. There is a tarmac track along its left bank leading to the starting point. However, once you are at the highest point of the stage, the best option is walking down the track to kilometre marker 16 to the Valle de Abdalajís.
No return point: From the Cortijo Campano it is best to keep moving forwar
Connections to other footpaths and trails:
GR-7 E-4, Overlap from km 15.8, GR 248, The Great Path of Guadalhorce, link up at end, PR-A 85, from El Nacimiento, posible link up at km 14.5 at La Fuente de la Viuda, All route 249.4, Link up at km 15.8, SL-A 207, Haza del río and PR-A 390, Mt Huma, partial overlap.
• Road traffic circulating at the Stage start and finish (1.7km)
The natural lookout spots over the three reservoirs (Up to km 4.2)
The route begins at the meeting point of the Guadalteba and Guadalhorce reservoirs, where the road which accesses the Nature Reserve from the north crosses the water. Continuing along the service road which heads north-east, you pass by two turn-offs to reservoir management facilities, both heading south. After a kilometre and a half along the tarmac, following the banks of the Guadalhorce reservoir and very close to the aggregate quarries used for the construction of the dams, the route turns off to the right. Just before a chain which closes off the road, off to the left are two tracks which lead to the old limestone mine. Continue along the forest track heading south, which is closed to traffic and you soon encounter a steep climb through Aleppo pines.
Native vegetation is fighting to recover its territory not only in the shaded and steeper areas, but also in among the Pine forest. Holm oaks, Savin junipers and reasonably-sized Turpentine trees occasionally form clumps of woodland. Undergrowth of Mastic shrubs, Scorpion broom, Black hawthorn, Juniper and Kermes oak also gives an idea of the woodland’s former rich diversity.
A short way on, you reach a section with panoramic views of the entire hydroelectric complex of El Chorro, Malaga’s western Sierras and the opening of the first gully of the Los Gaitanes Gorgeway. The most common rock here is calcareous sandstone from the sedimentary belt that encircles the Nature Reserve along with its core of limestone and dolomite. There is a sharp turn in the track to the east, from where the landscape becomes decidedly more mountainous.
Further up the track, you come to an interesting expanse of shrubland with Esparto grass, Rosemary and Laurel-leaf rockroses beneath Pine trees shaped by the wind. Looking south from here, magnificent Savin juniper trees cover the Todosaires stream and the northern slopes of the Sierra del Huma with the flat, treeless summit just under 1,200 metres high.
The limestone outcrops in the northern Nature Reserve (Up to km 10)
This brings you to a wide open and flatter area (km 4.5) called La Cornicabra, with some young Pine trees and Thyme shrubs, which nearby beehives put to good use. Towards the east, we begin to see the sheer rockfaces that characterise the area. In this section, you go alongside the high voltage power line, the same one seen earlier at the boundary between Campillos from Antequera. You then reach a mountain pass, a natural occurring passage between two imposing cliffs, the smaller facing north and the taller looking west. The area is famous for sport climbing due to the very high quality of the rock and the overhangs of the climbing routes. It is actually known as Desplomilandia, meaning ‘Overhang Land’, while the rockface higher up is known specifically as El Triángulo due to the shape of the rock. There used to be pens at its base used for livestock.
Having taken a northerly course from La Cornicabra, the path then goes downhill, and soon passes a small track off to the left used by climbers (km 6). It then begins a long climb to the east, up a treeless slope with the impressive Tajo del Cabrito above.
This rocky outcrop is a formidable obstacle for both people and animals, towering a hundred metres above the path on average and two kilometres in length. At the Ramos pass, about 7 kilometres from the start, the karst landscape on the left gives you an idea of what the top of the outcrops above is like, with pinnacle rock formations, like stacks of plates and similar to those at the famous Torcal de Antequera and Savin juniper in the passages. In contrast, the slope on the right of the path is the result of rockfalls and is less dramatic in appearance.
The route begins another descent with views over Antequera’s plains, while crossing an area of short but very dense Savin juniper, which appear to form woodland yet maintain their bushy characteristics. Two tracks join the route, from the left and when you come to a level area that is currently ploughed for sowing (km 9.5), you gradually curve round towards the south-west. Just a little further on, you pass the turn-off to the zigzagging track that leads to the Sierra Llana.
Along the boundary of the Nature Reserve (hasta el km 16)
The most physically demanding part of the stage begins here. Between the 10th and 13th kilometre marks, you are confronted with a continuous climb, gaining 300 metres in elevation. The Cortijo del Madroño trail runs along the bottom of a rocky valley and has another gully on the right, called El Salto de la Zorra (The Fox’s Gap). The route then abandons this pathway at a turn-off to the left, where the slope becomes gentler and you head east past the Cortijo de Campano country house. This open and level area is surprisingly agricultural, despite the rugged nature of the terrain. There are excellent views of the 1,186m high Capilla mountain, covered with Scorpion broom shrubs.
The highest point of the stage is the Rosalejo pass after 14 kilometres, at 845 metres above sea level. Interestingly, this is also where the Roman city of Nescania once stood. Once you cross over into the Protected Natural Area and the route begins its descent and turns progressively south. On your left, away from the pathway is the Viuda fountain and nearby Cortijo de la Rejanada country house. The highest peak in this mountain range is the bulk of grey limestone called Huma (1,191 m), which the section of path runs round, keeping it on your right. There are more country estates below the road, named El Tajo del Palmito, Castillo and Los Peñascales. This last one, lends its name to the road coming from the Valle de Abdalajís, or more specifically from the MA-4401 road.
Los Pedregales Way (To the end of the stage)
When you reach the municipal area of Álora (almost at km 16), the route is joined by the GR7 E4 and Alternative Route GR 249.4 and they head south-west together. The hamlet of La Pedrera is a group of houses amidst Olive groves at the foot of the mountainside. It has a network of country tracks that you must work your way along, until the dense Pine forest of the Arroyo del Chorro stream. Much like other reforested areas visited previously, the woodland’s main purpose is to prevent the silting up of the wetlands through reinforcing, and so stabilising the surrounding rocky slopes. For the second time, the path enters the Protected Area where it remains, practically until the end of the stage.
You soon come to a steep incline in the track, which levels off slightly when you come to an area of bends and from where the Escalera Árabe path branches off (km 18). There is then a second section with sharper zigzags, with a panoramic view of the village of El Chorro and surroundings, the Mesas de Villaverde and the first part of the next stage. You cannot miss the rockfaces close by on your right, which have different routes for both sport and traditional climbing. The crag is known among climbers as Las Frontales (Lower, Middle and Upper) and has a spectacular collection of routes in a cave, called Poema Roca (the Rock Poem). The traditional name for these crags, however is Tajo de los Castellones. As for the Escalera Árabe (The Arabic Stairway), which is actually from the middle of the last century, it was built to reforestate the area beyond the cliffs, which are not visible from this part of the route.
The track passes through some Pine trees, with very little ground cover of shrubs due to the dense canopy overhead. It then crosses the gully twice in areas where the track is protected by stone wall terraces and retaining walls. The first houses come into view, and you soon enter the village of El Chorro. Winding your way through the streets in a westerly direction brings you to its railway station, where this stage ends.
Discover more about the province of Malaga
- Discover more about the province of Malaga