The ultimate guide to hiking in Almeria
Almeria may not be top of mind when it comes to booking a hiking holiday, but hikers will be pleasantly spoilt by the tip-top trails the province of Almeria has to offer. The eastern edge of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range runs into Almeria, boasting unique hiking trails; while Tabernas Desert provides an extraordinarily rewarding outdoor experience as you hike through the badlands. Then, there is dazzling Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park and its wilderness trails hugging the coastline.
Read on to discover our round-up of Almeria’s top hiking trails – a list that reflects the region’s unique landscape from the coast to the mountains.
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Hiking through Almeria’s Sierra Nevada
The spectacular Sierra Nevada mountain chain straddles the north-eastern part of Almeria which is slightly less elevated than the Granada section but still boasts lush green landscapes and sweeping views.
Many of the hiking routes lie on the northern side of the Almerian Sierra Nevada. The best launch pads include the towns of Abla, Abrucena, Huéneja and Fiñana. These towns run along A-92, the motorway that connects the cities of Granada and Almeria.
Our top recommendation is the Encinar de Abrucena trail (PR-A 15) for its incredible viewpoints and striking, rugged ravines. This 15-km long, circular trail takes about 4 to 5 hours to complete with an elevation of around 800 m. The trail is moderate with some steep climbs. It is an excellent option for novice hikers looking to go the distance
Head to Abrucena by taking motorway A-92 and Exit 336. Once you’ve reached the town, continue towards Las Rozas for 2.5 km until you see the signpost indicating the beginning of the trail.
The first part of the trail will lead down the Santos ravine and along a river which you will eventually cross to begin the upward climb to Las Rozas Recreational Area. This is a great spot to take a break and refill water bottles with fresh spring water. Continue the climb through a pine forest with the towering peaks of Sierra Nevada making up the stunning view.
You’ll also see the monolithic crag Peña Horadada in the distance. The pine forest will give way to a beautiful forest of oak trees as you hear the rushing water in the depths of the ravine. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll cross streams and see waterfalls in a unique natural setting. Remember to always stay on the trail and not venture off it!
The final part of the hike is marked by a signpost indicating the beginning of a steep downward climb which will lead you through a pine forest and back to your starting point.
The best time to do this hike is during springtime or autumn when temperatures are mild.
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Hiking the Alpujarras in Almeria
The illustrious Alpujarras hug the southern slopes of Sierra Nevada and extend into Almeria, offering a taste of the singular beauty of this region’s landscapes and villages.
One of the most popular hiking trails in this part of the Alpujarras is the trail that runs through the paradisiac Canales de Padules. However, we recommend a less trodden path that follows the course of the Andarax River – Sendero de Monterrey (PR-A 35).
This 9-km circular trail has an elevation of approximately 700 m and takes 4 hours to complete. It crosses through the best-preserved pine and oak forests of the entire Alpujarras as you enjoy panoramic views. This short trail is also suitable for novice hikers
You begin the hike at the recreational area Nacimiento, located on the outskirts of the town Laujar de Andarax. To reach the town, take the motorway N-340a to Benahadux, followed by the A-348. Continue on this road until you reach Laujar. This road connects all the villages located in the part of the Alpujarras located in Almeria.
The first part of the trail is quite steep and leads you through a dense pine forest to the Monterrey Viewpoint, which boasts sweeping views of the Andarax valley, presided by the towering Sierra de Gádor. From there, you’ll continue the climb until you reach a clearing giving way to the imposing 2,500-metre high Almirez peak. You’ll walk by a pine tree nursery which was used to replant the area. This is a great spot to take in the grandiose beauty of the southern slopes of Sierra Nevada.
As you continue to make your way through a dense forest of pine and oak trees, you’ll reach the highest part of the trail, the Monterey Refuge. This marks the time to take a break before beginning the downward descent back. You can make your way back to the starting point by taking the Monterrey Trail, which will lead you to the Andarax River. From there, you’ll follow the river course to complete the last part of the hike. Another option is to take Senda de la Hidroeléctrica, the most breathtaking hiking trail of the entire Almerian side of the Alpujarras.
Hiking through Tabernas Desert
Tabernas Desert became an extension of the American Wild West right here in Almeria. It has been used in countless films to portray the desertscape that few believed existed outside America. Hiking through the spectacular beauty of Tabernas affords stunning views but it should not be undertaken without any precautionary measures. We are talking about hiking through the driest region in all of Europe. This region receives less than 200 mm of precipitation per year and more than 3,000 hours of sunlight. Temperatures can swing from a blistering cold -5ºC in the wintertime to a sweltering hot 48ºC during the summertime.
Consequently, the best time to hike Tabernas is early spring and late autumn. One of the most popular trails is Sendero del Desierto (PR A-269) because it is moderately easy. There are two available options to complete this hike: a 14-kilometre hike that takes approximately 4 hours or a 9-kilometre hike that takes approximately 3 hours.
The trail is located right by the Oasys MiniHollywood theme park. If you are travelling from the city of Almeria, take the A-92 towards Granada and take Exit 376 towards Tabernas. You can leave your vehicle in the carpark and follow the signs towards the trail. From there, you’ll take climb a flight of stairs and cross wooden footbridges which will lead you to a ravine. In fact, this ravine has appeared in numerous Hollywood films, including Lawrence of Arabia, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and For a Few Dollars More.
Then, you’ll cross what looks like an oasis before hiking upstream the Verdelecho and through a crevice flanked by two towering walls of rock. It will lead to an abandoned film set of a Mexican town, dubbed Leone Ranch after a famous spaghetti Western film director. The trail meanders back to the starting point.
Hiking through Cabo de Gata
Hiking along the coast of Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is a feast for the eyes. From secluded, unspoilt coves to stunning volcanic rock formations, Cabo de Gata’s awe-inspiring landscape invites travellers to discover its entire coastline on foot, from Agua Amarga to the actual cape that bears its name. Not all of us have the luxury to undertake such an adventure so we’ve prepared a round-up of the most beautiful (and slightly shorter) trails this area boasts.
One of the best hiking trails is the one that connects the fishing village of San José with a gorgeous string of beaches including Los Genoveses, Mónsul and other less-trodden but equally stunning coves. The 13-km circular trail takes approximately 5.5 hours to complete with an elevation of about 500 m. This is best suited for intermediate hikers who are in good shape.
You can reach San José by heading eastbound on the A7 from the city of Almeria or taking the AL-12 from the airport. Take the exit signposted San José and then follow the signs for Playa de los Genoveses. You’ll reach a carpark where you can leave your vehicle and begin the hike.
The trail begins with a slight climb up to a restored windmill which provides the first of Instagramable moments with its panoramic views of Playa de los Genoveses. From there, the trail leads you down to the beach through a thicket of pine trees and prickly pears. Walk along the beach and start the steep climb up to Morrón de los Genoveses where you will be greeted with more incredible views of the beach, Cala de los Amarillos, San José and of the entire cape.
The trail is a composite of rewarding climbs up hills, down to coves and across towering cliffs all the way to the postcard-perfect beach of Mónsul, which in fact is featured on countless postcards and more than one blockbuster (hint, hint: Sean Connery and Harrison Ford both starred in this epic adventure film). This marks the end of the first part of the hike, once you’ve marvelled at the spectacular rock formation ‘La Peineta’ poking out of the water and the enormous wind-swept dunes, it’s time to start the return journey.