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Poqueira Gorge Loop Walk

· 1 review · Hiking trail · Capileira
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  • Pampaneira Fabric Shop
    / Pampaneira Fabric Shop
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Fabrics Overflowing onto the Streets
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Bridge across the River Poqueira
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Crossing the River Poqueira
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Pampaneira
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Capileira Cascading Towards the Poqueira Gorge
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Church of Saint Mary, Capileira
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Capileira at Sunset
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 1600 1500 1400 1300 1200 1100 1000 900 8 6 4 2 km Casa Museo Pedro Antonio de Alarcón

Today’s walk completes a loop of the Poqueira Gorge. Head south on the eastern side passing through three interesting villages, before returning north on the western side which is wilder and affords great views across the gorge and to the villages.

9.3 km
4:00 h
718 m
723 m

The villages of Capileira, Bubión, and Pampaneira teeter on the edge of the Poqueira Gorge, appearing liable to cascade into the giant rift at any moment. But the unusual placement of these villages is part of the story for their success. Firstly, the Poqueira Gorge channels much of the snowmelt from the high Sierra Nevada mountains which ensures, unlike much of Andalucia, water is in abundance. You will step over many acequias (man-made irrigation channels), and pass trees and bushes bulging with juicy fruits (pomegranates, figs, apples, blackberries, etc.). Secondly, due to their isolation and natural defences, these villages remained a final stronghold for Moorish settlements – after Granada was reclaimed by Christians in 1492 it was nearly 100 years before the Moors were expelled from the Sierra Nevada – a period which allowed the Arabic culture to become further intertwined.

Today’s loop of the gorge will have you peering down into the chasm, crossing bridges over the torrent of water that rushes through it, craning your neck to admire the towering peaks, getting lost in the labyrinthine network of streets, and finally kicking back in a plaza allowing the slow pace of Spanish life to unfold around you. Muy Bien!

Author’s recommendation

Allow yourself a late start to time your arrival in Pampaneira (1.5 hours from Capileira) for lunchtime. There are several vibrant cafes and restaurants in the church plaza. User
Macs Adventure
Updated: March 16, 2020

Highest point
1435 m
Lowest point
930 m

Safety information

There are some exposed and unfenced edges throughout the walk; be careful and remain on the path.

There are several stretches where you must walk on the road as there is no pavement. Walk on the left side facing the oncoming traffic unless there is a sharp left bend, in which case you should cross to the outside edge to allow drivers the maximum time to see you.

Some of the paths are around rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.


Sturdy hiking boots and a waterproof/wind-break layer are required. Walking poles will be a big advantage in some of the steep ascents and descents.

Ensure your phone is fully charged; if you doubt the battery will last throughout the hike, it might be beneficial to bring a power bank.

Make sure you bring enough water. It is recommended to drink 0.75 litres per 1 hour of hiking in hot weather.

Be sure to bring plenty of sun-cream and a healthy respect for the sun.

Tips, hints and links

Points of Interest

Poqueira Gorge

Poqueira Gorge has been recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve. This acknowledges the unique combination of the stunning natural landscape and the human relationship to it. There are few places where human development complements the natural environment, but the irrigation canals, terraced agriculture and the wonderful topsy-turvy villages manage to achieve just that.


Casa Museo Pedro Antonio de Alarcón

Pedro Antonio de Alarcón chronicled his travels through this region in his 1872 book, La Alpujarra. The museum provides details of his life and exhibits relics from the Poqueira Gorge region.


Fabric Shops

You’ll quickly notice that the whitewashed houses, shops and streets of these villages are a riot of colour, overflowing with Jarapa – traditional handwoven rugs. Almost nowhere in Spain experiences winters as cold as these villages, so perhaps it is natural that a fabric industry would blossom here. Admire the rugs, pop into a shop to see them being weaved, or perhaps even take one home with you!


Food and Drink

This walk passes three villages – Capileira, Bubión and Pampaneira – which all offer a variety of options for eating and drinking. These are all on the eastern side of the gorge, and therefore you will pass them on the first half of the walk. After leaving Pampaneira there is no opportunity to buy supplies until you finish in Capileira.


Church of Saint Mary, Capileira (1435 m)
36.961218, -3.359758
30S 467973 4090630


Church of Saint Mary, Capileira

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Start in the Plaza Panteon Viejo, facing the church and museum. TURN LEFT to pass the ‘No Entry for vehicles’ sign onto the cobbled road. As the road immediately forks, BEAR RIGHT to head downhill. After 30 metres, TURN LEFT to head away from large, wooden doors to the church.

0.11km – At the play-park, TURN RIGHT sharply onto the path that winds downhill, then at the water fountain after 40 metres, BEAR LEFT. At both junctions, there are signposts to ‘Sendero A Bubión’ (Footpath to Bubión).

0.21km – As the wide paved path bends left and heads uphill, BEAR RIGHT onto the muddy footpath. This continues with beautiful views overlooking the valley.

0.59km – As the path forks with a small reservoir on your right, BEAR RIGHT to continue along the flatter path, following the ‘a Bubión’ signpost.

1.10km – After crossing a small bridge over a stream you will reach a cobbled road. Ignore the road and TURN RIGHT to descend towards the gorge on a grassy path through a field. As you reach a section of wooden fenceposts the path begins to wind steeply downhill along the left side of the field.

1.30km – TURN LEFT as the stone steps emerge onto a footpath, to continue heading downhill and walking parallel to the gorge.

1.50km – As the path forks, BEAR RIGHT to continue along the flatter path, walking towards the football and basketball pitch.

1.70km – Upon reaching a paved path, and with the football pitch on your right, BEAR LEFT to head uphill. After 100 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON, ignoring all side paths. This path will pass to the left of the church and emerge into a courtyard.

1.90km – BEAR RIGHT diagonally across the church courtyard and then down the steps and cobbled road on the far side. As the road splits below the church and in front of a small hut with the number 6, BEAR LEFT, and then after 50 metres, just after passing a fountain, BEAR RIGHT. There are signposts to Pampaneira at both junctions.

2.60km – Shortly after passing a white hut, BEAR RIGHT as the path forks.

2.70km – BEAR LEFT onto the downhill paved road, and then after 50 metres just as this road becomes gravel, BEAR RIGHT onto the rocky footpath. There is a wooden post with red, yellow and white markings to guide you.

2.90km – As you emerge onto a cobbled road beside an information board for ‘Sendero pueblos del Poqueira’, BEAR RIGHT to head downhill. After 50 metres, BEAR RIGHT and then BEAR LEFT to continue winding downhill.

3.00km – You are now on the outskirts of Pampaneira, and the labyrinthine network of paths becomes difficult to navigate. At each fork, choose the path that heads downhill and this will lead you to the church courtyard in the centre of the village. The church spire is a prominent landmark which will assist you.

3.40km – With your back to the grand entrance to the church, BEAR RIGHT to head to the corner of the courtyard. Follow the flat footpath which passes under a short covered section between two houses and leaves the plaza. As you reach a restaurant after 50 metres, BEAR LEFT down a short set of steps and then TURN LEFT to walk along the cobbled street, Camino del Rio, as it winds downhill.

3.50km – As the cobbled road ends at a T-junction, with a gravel track on your right and a paved track on your left, TURN LEFT onto Calle Moraleda. After 20 metres TURN RIGHT opposite house number 5. You are heading towards the mass of electrical pylons and overhead lines.

3.60km – As you emerge onto the main road below the large ‘Bienvenido a Pampaneira’ sign, TURN RIGHT onto the footpath signposted to Sendero la Atalaya and Camino del Rio Poqueira. Continue along this gravel track, walking parallel to the gorge on your left and ignoring all side paths.

3.90km – Just before the road becomes paved, and with a stone irrigation ditch on your right, TURN LEFT onto the rocky track, following the sign to Sendero La Atalaya.

4.30km – TURN LEFT to cross the bridge over the river, and then once across the bridge BEAR RIGHT along the loose, rocky footpath.

4.60km – Shortly after passing a large fig tree, BEAR RIGHT as the path splits, to continue walking with the gorge on your right. After 20 metres the path will fork; you can choose either as they soon rejoin. This path will begin winding uphill below the precarious rock pillar.

5.40km – As the path forks near a derelict building BEAR RIGHT to continue along the worn grassy path which heads downhill into the gorge. Ignore the official path which follows the green-and-white blazes of paint, as this is now overgrown. This section of the footpath can be very loose so walk with care; walking poles will be of use here.

6.30km – After crossing a small bridge over a stream, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON, following the sign to Capileira, 3.2km away, and ignoring the downhill turn on your right. After 100 metres you will need to pass through a gate; please close it behind you.

6.80km – BEAR RIGHT to continue along the flatter path, ignoring the left fork which has a yellow and white cross marked on a nearby rock.

7.70km – With derelict farm buildings on your right, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through a gate (made from branches, string and chain-link fence at the time of writing).

7.90km – TURN RIGHT as the path splits in a wooded area. This path will head downhill and cross the bridge over the river.

8.50km – Having crossed the river, TURN RIGHT as the path splits, following the sign to Capilera on the GR-240 route. A red, yellow and white streak of paint on a nearby rock can guide you.

9.20km – As you emerge at the paved road beside an information board for Sendero Sulayar, BEAR LEFT to head uphill. After 50 metres, as the path splits into three, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON taking the middle path. This road will fork several times; choose the uphill path at each fork (BEAR LEFT, BEAR LEFT, BEAR RIGHT) to finish at the church in the centre of Capileira.


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

Questions & answers

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Fritz Vik
March 15, 2020 · Community
Nice tour. Be sure to take the ekstra detour to Pampaneira. There are a few nice restaurants there for lunsj or dinner.
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Done at February 21, 2020

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9.3 km
718 m
723 m


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