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The Sierra Nevada Mountain range is located just a 1.5 hour drive from the Costa del Sol. The Sierra Nevada National Park is a major tourist attraction in its own right and has some of the finest scenery, flora and fauna this part of southern Spain has to offer. Climbing up into the mountains from Granada, hikers can enjoy the verdant hillsides, magical river valleys and evergreen pine forests until suddenly, without warning so it seems, the barren almost lunar looking landscape of the Sierra Nevada Mountains takes over.
Spectacular views over the countryside and glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea all the way to Morocco in Africa on clear days make a hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to an unforgettable experience. The National Park is with 85,883 hectares the largest in Spain, but few people are aware of the excellent hiking trails available in the park. Among the wildlife of rare plants, birds, butterflies, rabbits, hares and squirrels, the Spanish ibex, a kind of mountain goat with enormous horns, stands out. Hikers have also reported seeing wild cats, badgers and foxes as well as martens, Golden Eagle, Common Kestrels, Red-legged Partridges, Common Quail, European Goldfinch and the Eurasian Eagle-owl.
Among the top ten hikes in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range Beas de Granada, which follows the crest of the ridge stretching between Beas and Granada, ranks as one of the top five. In winter, hikers can see all the most important snow-capped summits from El Caballo in the west to Picon de Jerez in the east. This hike is particularly suited for holidaymakers and residents of Granada City, where property has become rather affordable of late thanks to the Spanish economy still trying to recover from the 2008 housing market crash.
Cahorros is a trail that will delight natural history buffs and hikers alike. The fruit trees of almond, cherries, apples and apricots, the colourful wild flowers, fragrant lavender, thyme and rosemary lining the hiking trails make this a paradisiacal, yet less strenuous hike that families with children can enjoy. There are deep gorges spanned by hanging bridges that seem to come straight out of an Indiana Jones adventure film and there are cascading rivers carving their way through the tranquil Monachil valley, making it an ideal subject for a family photo session.
The Cruz de Viznar trail runs across a small but challenging hill located in some distance of the actual Sierra Nevada Mountains, but still close enough to provide amazing views of the whole mountain range. Just long enough for an evening walk when the sun has lost its fierce heat, the trail is just 5.8 km long and takes around 2 hours. Although steep at first, the footpaths are excellent and well signposted, leaving only the last part that goes up to the cross on the summit as the most challenging hike. The start of the hiking trail can be found at the Sierra de Huétor Visitor Centre at Puerto Lobo near the town of Viznar.
Permanent residents of the city of Granada in the Sierra Nevada or holidaymakers with a second home might have pondered over the source of Granada’s two rivers, which traverse the city. The River Darro’s source can be reached via the Cañada Sereno hiking trail, which makes for an excellent family walk taking around 3 hours. The 12 km hiking trail is quite easy and suited for all the family. There are stone benches along the way were little hikers can rest their legs and parents can have a breather, enjoying the amazing views.
The A-92 motorway leads directly from the city of Granada to the Sierra de Huétor Natural Park in the north-east of Granada, travelling towards Almeria and Guadix. Exit 259 signposts the Natural Park and after following the dirt road, visitors will find another sign indicating the start of the hiking trail.
Owning a holiday or permanent home in the city of Granada or the Sierra Nevada has never been more affordable than now, where great bargains have entered the Spanish property market. Houses in village locations in the mountains are particularly cheap, starting from just EUR 30,000, but needing some refurbishment.