Sierra Nevada is one of the best places to hike in Spain, with gorgeous scenery and beautiful experiences that every nature enthusiast would love. There are plenty of hikes in Sierra Nevada, suitable for both adventure seekers with experience and families with children. Ruta de los Cahorros is a family friendly Sierra Nevada trail, located outside the village of Monachil, close to Granada. Hiking in Sierra Nevada is a wonderful day trip from Granada activity that will put you right in the middle of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Hiking in Sierra Nevada, Spain
Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range in Spain, with Mulhacén peak reaching 3478 meters. The nearest city to the Sierra Nevada mountains is Granada, which is a great starting point for hikers.
There are many opportunities to observe the local wildlife when you hike in the Sierra Nevada mountains, with the Iberian Ibex being one of the most common encounters. On the trails and on the rocks you can usually observe lizards sunbathing and, sometimes, the Snub-nosed Viper. They usually move away when they hear humans approaching, and they don’t frequent the trails that are too populated. Keep your eyes open for the Sierra Nevada blue butterfly, a species native to the National Park. They are easily found at lower altitudes.
If you go hiking in spring, you will notice a lot of flowers, especially between 700 and 1300 meters, where the Ruta Los Cahorros takes you through.
Sierra Nevada Trails
There are many trails in the Sierra Nevada mountains, some are harder than others. For families with children, the Cañada del Sereno near Granada or the Melegís to Béznar reservoir in the Lecrín Valley are perfect choices for easy trails in nature.
Ruta Los Cahorros is considered to be of medium difficulty hike, but it can be done with children too. In fact, they will have a lot of fun on the swinging bridges and inside the Monachil canyon. This is a circular walk, so you can always turn back mid-way if you find the climbing of the second part too difficult. You will find some stunning medium difficulty paths in the South parts of the Sierra Nevada, near Trevélez and Capileira.
If you are an experienced mountain hiker, check out the trail that conquers Mulhacén, which you can do in either one or two days.
What to Pack for a Day Hike in the Sierra Nevada
When you are hiking the Los Cahorros Trail in Sierra Nevada, there are a few things you should bring with you:-
- A small backpack
- Good grip shoes. Please do not attempt this hike in your flip flops, this is a mountain not a beach
- A bathing suit. You will want to take a dip in the water, under the waterfall.
- A towel
- A hat, the second part of the hike has no shade at all
- At least 2L of water
- Snacks for a picnic
- Trekking poles are useful for the second part of the hike
How to Get to Monachil
Driving from Granada to Monachil is pretty straight forward. The driving distance between the centre of Granada and Monachil is approximately 15 minutes.
By Public Transport:
Bus 183 connects Granada to Monachil every 20 minutes or so, from Monday to Friday. The bus station in Granada is here. It takes 30 minutes for the bus to reach Monachil and you can buy your ticket from the machine at the bus stop, or directly from the driver if there is no machine, or if the machine is not working. A one-way ticket costs 1.55 euros. If you plan on using the buses in Granada more often, you can buy a Credibus Card for 5, 10 or 20 euros, which you can top up as needed, and by using the Credibus you get cheaper fares.
If you take the bus to Monachil make sure to get off at the last stop, which is called Plazza Miraflores and not at Monachil Barrio. The latter is 2 km away from the start of the trail. You will need to take the bus back from the exact point where it drops you off, as it is the end of the line.
The 183 has a very reduced schedule on Saturdays, with the last bus returning from Monachil at 2:10PM. On Sunday the bus does not run. You can check the full schedule here.
Where to Park in Monachil
There are two places where you can safely park your car in Monachil. The public parking is downhill, next to the river and it’s free of charge. To get there you will need to navigate a few narrow streets, then descent just before the bridge. The turn is very easy to miss (trust your GPS), so if you do, you will need to cross on the next bridge and go round one more time. There are plenty of parking spaces here, but if you plan on doing this hike during the weekend, arrive early as the first part of it is very popular with locals. Click here for directions to the parking.
The second parking area is located at the end of the hike, just off the main road to El Purche. It is free and there are plenty of spaces (if you arrive early). Even though the Cahorros trail is circular, I would recommend to start the hike from parking in town and not the other way around, because of the steepness of the path. Click here for directions to Era de los Portachuelos parking.
Map of Ruta Los Cahorros
When to Go Hiking in Sierra Nevada for the Los Cahorros Route
Without a doubt, the best time to go hiking in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the Los Cahorros route is spring or autumn. I have done this hike twice, and in the summer it turns out to almost be a mission impossible, due to the heat. You can still go in summer and enjoy the waterfalls, but don’t go any further than the last hanging bridge.
In spring and autumn the temperature is more pleasant, so going up the mountain is easier. In winter you can encounter snow at the highest point of the hike.
Ruta de Los Cahorros
A day trip to Monachil and Ruta de Los Cahorros is a fantastic way to spend some time in nature, do exercise, have fun on the hanging bridges and swim under a waterfall.
Los Cahorros is a 7.2 kilometres circular hike, graded as moderate, which follows the river Monachil through a canyon, passing by a beautiful waterfall. The route has four hanging bridges, the longest measuring 55 meters, is suspended 15 meters above the ground below.
Los Cahorros trail starts in Monachil, alongside the river, going up on a slight incline, through the forest. It is a very pleasant walk in the shade. Soon enough you will reach the first hanging bridge, which leads to the other side of the river, following an irrigation channel. This part of the path is quite exposed, so look up – you will see some stunning waterfalls on the versants of the mountain.
The last hanging bridge is the entrance to the canyon. It looks quite intimidating, especially for people with a fear of heights. However, it is very safe and as long as you keep looking straight and hold on to the railing, it’s do-able. You can’t come all the way here and not cross the bridge; the most spectacular part of the hike just begins. I am terrified of heights, and I have still crossed this bridge three times. If I can do it, you can do it too.
Just before the bridge there is a downhill path, leading to the waterfall. This is a lovely spot to stop at for a bit of lunch, and a swim in the freezing cold waters of the river. In summer, this is a blessing.
Once you have crossed this 100 year old bridge, you enter the narrow canyon. This is a very popular spot for rock climbers to practice their hobby. The path is now a concrete wall following the vertical rocky walls on one side and the river on the other. Don’t worry, the distance between the path and the river is about half a meter only. In some places, the path is difficult because the rocks are just above it. Using the metal handles set into the rock, lean above the river and go around the obstacles. Some rocks require you to pass underneath them. It’s quite fun! Soon, you will arrive at the Las Palomas Cave, which you will need to pass through.
It is not long now until the scenery opens up again and you will exit the canyon. You can now clearly see how beautiful the Sierra Nevada mountains are. Walk along the edge for a little bit more, until you see another small hanging bridge crossing the river. Here is where the climb starts.
From this point, you can choose whether you want to go back the same way, or climb up the mountain for a much harder, but spectacular experience. The more you go up, the better the views become. The trail is wide enough to be considered a dirt road, covered with gravel. This is the most difficult part of the trail – not because of the incline but because of the hot sun. Make sure you have plenty of water with you. Climbing to the top will take between 40 minutes to an hour, and there is absolutely no shade at all, not even one small tree to hide under.
You will know you have reached the top when you can see a small farm and the road winding through an olive tree orchard. From here, it’s all downhill.
Just before entering the village, you must stop at The Puntarrón Restaurant for a well-deserved ice-cold beer. Doing this hike for the last time in July, having a cold drink in an iced glass here was a proper blessing. Even though I arrived at closing time and I could barely open my mouth to order because of how exhausted I was, the staff were so kind and let me in to rest. They even offered me some food – the same as the staff were having for their lunch. They also have a lovely terrace.
Where to Stay If You Want to Hike in Ruta de los Cahorros in Sierra Nevada
Sierra Nevada mountains provide endless opportunities for hiking near Granada. You can do day trips from Granada, or you can stay in Monachil and the surrounding areas. Being able to take a break from the city and spend a couple of nights in nature is a great idea. There are plenty of bed and breakfasts in Monachil which you will find on Booking.com. An interesting place to stay, if you love stargazing, is the Kampaoh glamping site, in Las Lomas. Here you will find fairy lights decorated tents with comfortable beds and log burners inside, a swimming pool and stunning views over the Canales Reservoir. It is a proper romantic destination for nature lovers. A tent for two people usually costs around 60 euros in high season. Check the latest rates and availability here.
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