Great Malaga Path (GR 249). Alternative Route 1. Alameda - Mollina - Humilladero - Fuente de Piedra
1 The Beginning of the Stage: The Sierra de Camorra, at the crossroad of the Perezón Colorado Way and Cordel de Santillán in Loma del Pegote mountain. The best way to get there on foot is along the long-distance path (GR) 249, from Santillán Park or you can start at Alameda.
The Sierra de Camorra, at the crossroad of the Perezón Colorado Way and Cordel de Santillán in Loma del Pegote mountain. The best way to get there on foot is along the long-distance path (GR) 249, from Santillán Park or you can start at Alameda.
2 The End of the Stage:
Access to the end: From the motorway A-92 Seville-Granada, at the exit to Fuente de Piedra. Follow the signs that lead to the Visitor Centre. You can also access this point from the Sierra de Yeguas by the A-7279 motorway.
The finish line: Fuente de Piedra - eastern part of the city, at the crossroad of Avenida de Andalucía (avenue) and Carlos I Street.
3 Alternative Routes
Exits: All the villages on your way have services you might need in case of emergencies. Actually, they can be used as start points of a circular route.
The point of no return: You must follow the vertical signs, which give information about the distance between villages and decide if you want to continue of go back. In any case, this path tends to be close to some of the villages.
Enjoy the safe path: Several larger structures are walked over or under by flyovers or subways, so the risk is lower. There is to be very careful only along the roads and streets in the three towns. There is a part of the road before Fuente de Piedra, but there are few vehicles as it is in poor condition.
There is to be careful near the abandoned aggregate quarry, and stay away from the unstable cliff edges. Further on, there are beehives, which are properly signposted and separated from the path. As for the rest of the stage, it is neither long, rough nor isolated and, therefore, it is not difficult.
Connection with other paths and livestock tracks: There are no registered paths in this area except the GR 249, the Great Málaga Path, stage 17, with overlap at the start and end of the Alternative.
However, the chalky mountain ranges (the Camorra, Mollina and Humilladero) in the flat surrounding are an attraction which make this trail rather popular with hikers who venture to walk dozens of kilometres of paths. Some of these paths go around the above mountains and others lead to their highest points at 684 m, 798 m and 682 m respectively.
The Red Route (Ruta roja) is in the Sierra de Mollina. It starts at the Cortijo de la Capuchina country house, on the GR 249 (long-distance path) and ends at the triangulation pillar or the top of the mountain after a six-kilometre long trail. There are plenty of caves in this area. Some of the most important ones, like Abrigo and Porqueros, can be seen along this trail.
The Blue Route (Ruta azul) is important because it goes to Corralón, a circular depression with a very special vegetation, and beautiful hackberry trees as a primary attraction. Lastly, there is the Green Route (Ruta verde), which starts close to the beginning of the alternative trail Corde de Santillán, and goes up in search of some caves like Gotera [leak]. Other four paths are of historical interest and consist of dirt tracks: Berdún, Portichelo, Capiruzón (Roman ruins) and Capuchina.
The town hall of Humilladero recommends three registered routes, one of which goes to Ratosa Lagoon, at the furthest point of this long territory, one is the path of Fuente de Piedra Lagoon (actually this is the third part of the alternative trail 249.1) and the Sierra de Humilladero trail. The final one is circular and leads up to the highest tops. Its itinerary matches the one of the long-distance path, and gives hikers a chance to see Ángel [angel] and Zapatito [little shoe] caves. Anyhow, there are plenty of paths and tracks which are used of crossed, such as the one of Camorra, Casería, Sierra or Albinas.
In the Fuente de Piedra Lagoon Nature Reserve, which can be visited along the next stage, there are two public trails which allow us to see the lakes.
• Farm traffic circulating on the tracks
• Transit through urban areas
• Beehives in the Sierra de Humilladero
A peculiar landscape
The Sierra de la Camorra is the large landmass that dominates the Antequera Depression, crisscrossed by various ancient roads, which the route makes good use of on this occasion. The town of Alameda is closely linked to this Reserve of biodiversity, while similarly, the towns of Mollina and above all Humilladero are associated with the second mountainous area of the day, the Sierra de Humilladero. Following the road to Mollina and continuing on from Humilladero, the landscape has changed little since the olden days, with Olive trees, cereals and vineyards as the area’s mainstay. At certain times, this medley of agricultural land comes together to form a quite spectacular landscape, only enlivened more by the frequent tending to that they require.
The greatest attraction of the day is the remarkable dividing line between the Olive groves and the Pine forests. This coexistence, which has now stabilised, has tended to fluctuate enormously given their fairly complicated relationship over the centuries. Patches of replanted Pine forests can be seen for miles around during the stage. Although the woodland is overwhelmingly dense at times, in some clearings or on the edges are interesting area of varied Mediterranean thicket, with Rosemary, Esparto grass, Laurel-leaf rockroses and Gorse. Occasionally, patches of Kermes oak crop up as forerunner to the original Holm oaks. Meanwhile, beneath the Aleppo pines are quite a few Wild Olive trees, which are very well adapted to this terrain.
From the Sierra de la Camorra to Mollina (Up to km 3.5)
The first three and a half kilometres lead to the centre of Mollina. Its church of Nuestra Señora de la Oliva (Our Lady of the Olive tree) and the adjacent convent of La Ascensión or La Villa estate are the main sights, upon both of which the town was founded.
The route begins by breaking away from Stage 17 at the gap between the main bulk of the Sierra and El Pegote hill. Also found here is the curiously named settlement of Perezón Colorado, which lends its name to the path and where an Olive grove now grows. There is a slight uphill section at the start, leading up to a rise looking down over the straight country track. You come to a clearing in the dense Pine forest, which is occupied by Kermes oak, Esparto grass, Laurel-leaf rockroses and Kidney vetch. It is also home to a large population of rabbits. They were given a helping hand by the hunters’ associations, by constructing warrens for them since they make up a large part of the diet of the forest’s largest predators. The finest examples of Aleppo pines grow on the outer reaches of the Pine forest (km 0.5), having access to more light and other resources. Almost like a curtain, they give way to the first view of the village of Mollina, in the distance to the south following the Perezón Colorado pathway.
Suddenly the Olive groves begin to take over, as is usual on all these gentle foothills. There are both older Olive trees and younger with three or four trunks. They may also be in full production of either green olives or olives for oil production, and are quite often only recently planted. There is a remarkable change in the landscape during this pleasant walk when you arrive at the famous vineyards of Mollina, occupying vast areas of land on these very red soils. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the long hill to the west as you cross the first stream with its grove of Elm trees is called Cerro Colorado (Flushed Hill), just as El Perezón (a shallow temporary pool) gives its name to the path.
Before reaching Mollina, the land’s drainage pattern from the Sierra is the same as that on Stage 17, despite having a smaller volume. You cross a pair of tributaries of the Aceiteros stream, which run parallel to the previous one and has the same destination, the Fuente de Piedra lake. At the second ford, the water has cut a deep channel in the red clay and you can spot stone walls supporting the banks here. The town of Mollina sits on top of a hill which also causes the watercourse to change course. One of these is La Zanjilla, whose spring the hill behind takes its name from, Cerro de la Fuente (Spring Hill). This small hill appears on your left once past La Sierra country estate.
A gentle climb takes you up to a rise where a well-known religious and youth initiative stands, the Casa de la Paz (the House of Peace), with superb views due to its location halfway between the forest and the village. A downhill section crosses a small but well entrenched stream and passes by the paths from Mollina to Alameda on your left and to Camorra on your right, where the Great Path follows small bends on each occasion.
An information panel welcomes you to Mollina along Sierra de la Camorra street, connecting with Carreteros street. This brings you out onto the main square and Real (Royal) street. Then continue on to La Fuente Avenue, go around the industrial estate of El Castaño towards the south to finally join the country track again.
From Mollina to La Sierrecilla through the Pine forest (Up to km 10.8)
On the immediate horizon you can see a striking abandoned building, La Sierra country estate and the hill of La Fuente. Between these two you must climb to the top of a rise where limestone strata resting on red clay have been hollowed out by rabbit holes. The next obstacle to overcome is the A-92 motorway, which you pass underneath and after a sharp turn to the west, you begin to climb, leaving the Olive groves behind you.
The track eventually turns into a footpath after passing the sand and limestone quarry on the left (km 7.1), actually the most easterly point of the Sierra de Humilladero. The forest soon completely surrounds you, but the fenced-in Olive grove is so nearby that you can appreciate the gravity irrigation ponds. The Aleppo pines were planted as part of the reforestation effort during the second half of the last century. They are very close together, and so it is not uncommon to see dead or fallen trees here. Rosemary patches occupy some of the clearings and you soon reach the highest point of the route (550 m), following the carved stone markers of the Public Uplands. Look out for the thicket of Esparto grass, Laurel-leaf rockroses and some broad-leaved bushes.
There are a few gentle climbs an descents, while some well signposted forks in the track lead you into the forest. You are rewarded with views over the Olive groves with the backdrop of the nearby village of Mollina and the hills where the route started. In the clearing formed by an uphill firebreak (km 8.4), there are some beehives far enough away from the path and, not for the first time, a track brings you alongside a field of Olive trees. It is important to follow the signposting here, as you climb up to a rise once again, entering the Pine forest. Another firebreak brings the summit of El Pollo into view, the highest point of the Sierra de Humilladero. After passing the premises of the water intake, the landscape changes abruptly to reveal a wide, flat depression of grassland and Thyme. This separates the main peaks from an elongated ridge covered with very diverse scrubland, La Sierrecilla at km 9.9.
From Humilladero to Fuente de Piedra (To the end of the stage)
Humilladero also takes advantage of the groundwater from its small range of hills, with a water catchment system right in the recreational area. Irrigation ponds are fairly common here too, with some reasonably large ones, and are used for drip irrigation of the young Olive trees.
The route overlaps with another offered by the local town council, and is lined by Pine trees providing shade. You soon come to the recreational area of La Sierrecilla, with the necessary facilities to spend a day in the countryside, but near to the town. The structure for the village supply water and the campsite lead on to the first houses on the 8th March Avenue, heading west. You soon join Loro Street and its Olive oil mill, with the church of Sagrado Cristo de la Misericordia as its destination. The route through Humilladero is completed along the streets Pablo Picasso, Capitán Velasco and the town’s main road, the MA-5406. Interestingly, at the Guardia Civil barracks, you leave Humilladero to enter Fuente de Piedra. The border between municipalities is established precisely by the street you cross.
The next section of pathway is named Las Albinas, after either from the lightcoloured clays or from their tendency to become waterlogged. The Great Path passes very close to two wastewater treatment plants which are very close to the Nature Reserve, hence the importance of their proper functioning. From Humilladero onwards, the Charcón stream is your reference, heading west again towards the saline endorheic lake (with no outflow), and some of the water treatment ponds that are in its drainage basin.
This is not an area with many irrigated fields, but nevertheless some traditional wells can be seen by the side of the path. In more than a few of them, it is possible to observe interesting amphibians swimming.
The path runs alongside some fields with little tree cover and some isolated houses until an arched tunnel allows you to pass under the high-speed railway line. Here you head roughly west and pass very close to the settling basins. When you come to the second railway line (km 15.1), the path turns sharply north. You go past numerous underpasses, which you do not take, since the gravel track eventually leads to a tarmac track going around the south-east side of large salt lake towards Campillos. The path however, runs along the hard shoulder as far as the first houses and the campsite in Campillos street.
In this final stretch, you join Andalucía Avenue, which you cross after turning west. Follow this to its junction with Juan Carlos I streets and Retamar street, where this interesting alternative stage comes to an end.
Discover more about the province of Malaga
- Discover more about the province of Malaga