GR 249. Stage 32: Ojén - Mijas
The Arroyo del Tejar Valley
The exit from Ojén in the Almadán area takes the hiker by caves carved out in ancient travertine rock at the foot of the walk and then once you are outside the village, by sign-posted threshing circles. There is a sharp decline on a concrete track to the ford across the Arroyo Real between traditional orchards, now also with subtropical trees. Immediately after that you start climbing.
Before the cemetery there are steps with protective railing accessing the Charca de las Viñas, a traditional spot for a swim, close to the village. Next pass by a farmhouse with irrigated terraces. The traditional path used initially is the right of way Colada del Camino de la Puente which leads to the Puerto de los Carneros along the bottom of the valley. The GR, however, follows later a wide forest track with a good surface which winds around more but leads to the same destination as the path described above, but on the slope on the left. The two alternative routes separate at 1.8 km.
The peridotites have been ruling the landscape for a while, and with them the specialist tree, the Maritime pine. The undergrowth, very thin here, is composed of Dwarf palm, junipers, esparto grass and some gorse. The country road embankments used to be supported by rows of eucalyptus trees after construction, and they line the walk for many kilometres. The Ojén Town Hall and the City Council have signposted with tiled panels and crosses the first junction (and many others within the village district).
Ignore the junction on the left that leads to the Fuente de Cerrillares and the road that was formerly called C-337 and has now been renamed A-7103, connecting with Monda.
Higher up there is a surprise: a Cork oak grove occupying a few hills that obviously contain some farmhouses because of the better-quality of the schist terrain when compared to the peridotite. Under the trees, with a few interspersed Portuguese gall oaks, there are some Spiny Broom and Sage-leaved Cistus.
When another stretch of concrete track ends, in the area of Cordobachina, you see the first effects of the 2012 fire. It came right up to the headwaters of the Arroyo del Tejar, where a few houses had to be evacuated. In the area where Cork oak groves change to pine woods, although they have disappeared here, you will find a few terraces of citrus and olive groves of very small production.
On the next rise, turning around, you have an impressive panoramic view of the burned and surviving oak forests while in the distance there is the Sierra Blanca, the scenery of the previous stage of the walk.
The Headwaters of Río de Ojén
A row of the revived eucalyptus, the few survivors along the path up to the Puerto de los Carneros (km 6.3), where you arrive at another sign-posted, multi-branched junction and ignore the tracks on your right to Ojén and Marbella, the Paraje de Los Sauces and Paraje de Los Molineros. Soon you reach a new minor intersection which affords views to the other side of the sierra. Here ignore the track on your left, even though you will notice that it is frequently used by walkers and cyclists to perform a circular route through the Sierra de Alpujata, belonging to Ojén. This track will re-connect with our walk in a talc and mica quarry.
The views that follow as you descend are startling, especially for those who remember the pine wood which used to grow here. The colour of the bare sierra only emphasizes the drama emanating from the landscape. There are good views of the highest altitudes of Alpujata, the ridge between the hills Cerro de Castillejo (1,074 m) and Cerro de Aguila (1,034 m), to the north. Very close, there are the farmhouses in the small vegas at the Jobretín stream, which can be reached on descent, after passing by another junction towards the Cerro de Juana Díaz and the Tinajones area to the right.
The Arroyo Jobretín is responsible for providing water for the fire-fighting reservoir a little further up, on the right and below the path, next to its helipad. Behind, direction southwest, the charred ridges of the Cerro de Juana Díaz only maintain a row of tall Eucalyptus and Canary Island pine, a reminder that the best time to extinguish a fire in an area as wild as this is when the fire is still an attempt.
Walking further ahead you find a track which turns off to the right, beside a ruin, towards a valley where there are the houses of Linarejos.
The hill that bears the same name closes the landscape off in the south, and is also significant because around the hill there are a good number of abandoned open pit mines of talc and mica.
Looking rather like quarries of aggregates, they are not close to the walk but you can see the old access roads almost everywhere. Time and time again you will need to ford the same two streams, which appear on the tiled signs Arroyo del Algarrobo (Majar del Hinojo on recommended maps) and Arroyo de los Laureles (Majar de la Parra). Either way, they are permanent watercourses with interesting flora and a stable population of fish, visible especially in the pond created by the second stream as it cascades from a concrete ford.
A significant ascent leads to the hill located between the Cerro de la Luz and La Loma de Topil, where Ojén district ends and the track which coincided with the walk at the beginning joins the GR again. Thus you enter another valley of Arroyo del Laurel, which eventually joins the previous stream and forms the river Ojén. Now you do actually cross a mica and talc quarry located at a col, while the walk leads in a wide curve, wading across a few streams which harbour striking flora around the meagre flow and the nearby streaks of clay, especially the Upright heath (Erica terminalis).
Nevertheless, throughout the walk you can see several species of small plants endemic to the peridotite mountains, some very striking such as the Armeria colorata or the Staehelina baetica, or the particular subspecies of some shrubs such as Halimium atriplicifolium and Genista hirsuta, which can be very abundant at times.
At the Puerto de la Alberca you will have walked 18 km and then you start a descent, first passing through some interesting two-toned strata, containing minerals which used to be sought after by the mining industry. After wading a stream surrounded by heath, to your right and down at the bottom of the valley, among the most extensive of the eucalyptus groves of the day, you will fi nd the Fuente del Cabañil. Actually what you can see is the (unused nowadays) natural pool, since the water source is hidden amongst the vegetation and protected by a small shed. Also note, from the same lookout point, the steep slope in the east which is a hill called Loma del Becerril and the ruins of one of the mining facilities, Las Minas del Jaboncillo.
As you keep walking finally you reach a mountain pass where, on the former site of the house of the Forest Guards, at the Cerro del Púlpito, there is La Comunídad Terapéutica Centro FADAS Mijas de la Junta de Andalucía, which is a drug rehab facility. This hill is well known thanks to the excellent viewpoint and is a superb vantage point to observe the regenerating grove of the erect Canary Island pine (Pinus canariensis) after it has been, literally, charred in the fire. In 2012, for the second time in two years in a row the occupants of the Rehabilitation Centre had to be evacuated, as well as many houses of the Entrerríos area, because of the greatest fire in the province of Málaga in years.
A little further down there is a major junction to the left, leading into the last of the eastern foothills of Sierra Alpujata (or Sierra Negra). Ignore the junction as our track turns south, still paved, and passes by another fire fighting reservoir on the right. In the area of Candelero, ford the Arroyo del Laurel, much diminished in the summer as it keeps filtering away, but it does still support fish in the seasonal pools. Now you are entering inhabited areas that in part have been affected by the fl ames and some Cork oaks that now have already started to regrow. The fire did spare the pine tree called Pino del Candelero, an outstanding specimen, more because of its uniqueness in the midst of the farmland, than its actual size.
The paved track becomes a road with bus service, an indication that you have reached Entrerríos. There is a major junction at kilometer 24.5 where you ignore the left turn and shortly thereafter is the Cortijo del Campillo, dating from the 18th century. You need to pay close attention at a sharp bend to the right (it can pose some danger) as you need to leave the road here and walk straight towards the riverbed at km 27.1.
If you have opted for a mountain bike for the stage, this is the place where you need to switch to walking, unless you are en expert cyclist. On the other side of the Alaminos river (or Río de las Pasadas) walk upstream until you encounter a dry stream bed which is the tributary of the river and follow this, walking along either bank or the streambed itself. The road which you pass under is the A-7053 Fuengirola-Puerto de las Pescadores road (between Mijas and Coin). This bridge over the Alaminos river can be used as an alternative to cross in the case of flooding.
The streambed is abandoned to take a track along its left bank which is marked as “sin salida para vehículos” (no exit for vehicles). And so begins the long climb north-eastwards along the Loma del Flamenco, passing by on both sides gullies that come down the hill to join the streambed you have left behind. The terrain changes substantially; there are gneiss, schist and slates that have caused the path to narrow and led to its poor shape, both made worse by occasional quads and dirt bikes passing through. The vegetation along the first metres is much denser, but there is nothing other than scrub which is adapted to drought.
Low scrub of Spiny broom is interspersed with Wild olives and cultivated olive trees which were tended to long ago and now are giving way to the scrub. There is Sticky fleabane, gorse, Ononis natrix, Genista umbellata and lavender. There are a couple of ruins of simple houses quite separated from each other; the path makes slight downwards turns but in general you are walking up. There are short sections of country road but these soon disappear. Here, and also in the nearby hills, there are copses of Holm oaks on the higher points, three or four at a time, witnesses of their lost domain.
There is a larger farmhouse surrounded by eucalyptus trees and a few Carob trees on top of a hillock (km 32.7). There is an ancient threshing circle on the hill visible if you descend a little, and deposits of quartz in the surroundings.
Now the walk connects with a wide dirt track which continues up the Matrichi, passing more and more houses on both sides, traditional and residential ones. On the right (at the headwaters of a stream) you can encounter a couple of lime kilns. There are spectacular views from any of the hills over the coast of Fuengirola, Sierra Alpujata looking back or the Sierra de Mijas ahead, which, at this point of the walk, is your destination at the end of the day.
The Sierra de Mijas
What is left to do now is to continue climbing along a couple of bends until you arrive at the A-387 road at the level of Valtocado housing estate, a bus stop and the bridge Puente de la Adelfa. The stretch of road which separates you from Mijas on the right is a short stretch of 600 metres, which nevertheless you need to walk using proper precautions. Thus you access Puerto de los Colorados, a contrasting meeting point between white marbles, dolomites typical of this sierra and the schist of the hills that you have just walked along.
A panel showing walks prepared by the Town Hall of Mijas marks the place (km 36) where different routes begin. In order to get your bearings you need to remember that the GR-249 coincides with the red walk (Ruta Roja, Cruz de la Misión), the one which has the least uphill incline compared with the other walks starting at this point. All the paths share the first section, with steps and ditches which stops this part from deteriorating, but soon the orange, green and blue walks branch off to the left. The little valley to the right and the foothills of the mountains are covered by an extensive immature eucalyptus plantation until you climb to the top of a col with excellent views over the Costa del Sol. From this point on surviving Stone pines which have escaped the last fi re and small young, regenerating trees dominate the landscape.
The scrub is quite dense in the first part, with Rosemary, gorse, Genista umbellata, Spiny broom, Broom-like kidney vetch and young pines beginning to peak out in between. This area, affected by another massive fire around Mijas, is recovering slowly, bringing hope to the future of the vegetation of the Sierra Alpujata, bridging the gap between the two affected areas and their distinct type of soil. The first to regenerate here will be the pine woods, of Maritime pine initially and Stone pine.
The walk descends slightly towards a very well preserved lime kiln and an information panel. Then you continue to climb towards the highest point of the day, first passing by a scree slope.
After a waterfall. This is a superb place to have a look at your walk so far, looking west: Río Fuengirola valley with its tributaries coming from the eastern foothills of the Sierras de Alpujata y Negra.
Thus you reach another intersection in the path where you need to follow downhill the direction to the abandoned marble mine. You can see the last cuts in the metamorphic limestone rock where blocks of it were taken, white polished surfaces and remains of material mined for construction work. Finally, arrive at a cross which indicates there is the Stations of the Cross are close, leading along sandy paths and culminating at the Ermita del Calvario chapel.
last section consists of walking downhill, ignoring a couple of uphill paths on your left and arriving at the A-387 road where stage 32 is brought to an end.
1. Initiation Stage :
Access Starting point: The only road is the A-355, which leaves from Marbella towards the area of Alhaurín el Grande and Coin, to the north.
Starting point: Area west of Ojén, intersection of the A-7103 road.
Enjoy the walk safely: There is quite a long distance between the starting point and any inhabited areas, about 24 kilometres to Entrerríos, where there are bus lines. Sierra Alpujata is characterised by scarce population which means that the walker needs to address facing such a walking distance as far as time and provisions are concerned. Obviously, in summer you need to focus on water supply. There is only one water source along the way, Fuente del Cabañil, however it hasn´t been treated for human consumption and you must take a detour to get to it. A good way of doing this stage would be on a mountain bike. However, you would need to be an expert mountain biker to be able to follow most of the paths which make up the 10 km section from the fi rst ford across the Río de las Pasadas and along the streambed of the Arroyo de los Pilones.
It is recommended to adapt your walking to the available daylight hours depending on the season, and to the length of the walk, keeping in mind that you need to maintain an average speed of 4 km an hour including stops so that you can complete the whole stage in 10 hours.
The streams you cross in Sierra Alpujata carry little water and the fords along the tracks are adapted by the use of broad concrete platforms. You shouldn´t encounter any problems at the Río de las Pasadas either, although it may seem to the contrary looking at the wide riverbed. The same happens during the long kilometre you must walk following the steam bottom of Arroyo de los Pilones or along either stream bank. The stream rarely carries any water or it is reduced to a narrow ditch which is easily crossed. Anyway, you can use part of the PR A-170 to cross the stream over a bridge. There are many sections of road, in Entrerríos and then before Mijas.
Quite frequently there is a shoulder you can follow but not everywhere so you need to be careful. Pay attention at the bend of the road where you step off the asphalt to cross Río de las Pasadas (km 27.5), as there is little visibility.
2. Completion of Stage:
Access to finish point: Above-mentioned road connects with the area of Alhaurín el Grande and Coin, while the best road to follow from the coast is the A-368 which comes from the AP-7S and the parallel N-340, already practically inserted in the coastal urban fabric.
Finish point: The A-387, in the northern part of the village of Mijas.
3. Alternatives :
Possible "escape routes": There are many tracks which descend towards the south and the coast, but all of them mean covering quite a distance. The best idea would be to follow the path or retrace your steps. Starting from the Centro de Rehabilitación de Drogadictos the reference area is Entrerríos.
No return point: Just past the helipad and the water reservoir for fi re fi ghting there is a junction which leads to Linarejos. Keep in mind that at this point there is the same distance to Ojén (returning) and walking ahead to Centro de Rehabilitación de Drogadictos. The latter is an ideal place for an “escape” since it is well connected to the Entrerríos area through a paved track and is well known in Mijas.
Connections to other footpaths and trails: La Mancomunidad de Municipios de la Costa del Sol, the local governing body, published in 2011 a network of itineraries in which the PR A-170 Ojén-Mijas was included. Although it nominally coincides with stage 32, it differs in its approach to Mijas, and thus in the cumulative elevation gain and length. The good side of it is that the PR can be used as a much less mountainous alternative. In order to do this, instead of fording the river Río de las Pasadas you would need to follow the road to encounter the walk on top of the bridge and follow the signs from there to the end.
Apart form the paths described in stage 31, to Ojén, the other adapted paths are in Mijas and are confi ned to the sierra. There
are information panels at the starting points but practically speaking these are paths which ascend towards the highest parts and there are many possibilities of circular walks.
One of the starting points is the Puerto Colorado, and in fact the starting point is the same as for the GR-249 where this walk leaves the A-387 road. Here start such walks as Ruta Naranja (orange walk) to Pico Mijas, about 4 km one way, Ruta Verde (green walk) from las Cañadas, same length and with a connection to the previous one, and Ruta Azul (blue walk) from la Fuente de las Adelfas, 3 km long.
However, our path uses the red walk, Ruta Roja or de la Cruz de la Misión (2.6 km) heading east. In the mining area it connects with a short 1 km itinerary, (white walk) Ruta Blanca or of the Cantera del Barrio, and a couple more which are described in stage 33 as they coincide with that stage during the majority of the w