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Hiking trail

Zahara de la Sierra Loop Walk

Hiking trail · Zahara
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Looking Backwards towards Zahara de la Sierra
    / Looking Backwards towards Zahara de la Sierra
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / The Hilltop 'Torre del Homenaje'
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Footpath through a Narrow Valley
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / Andalucian Traffic Jam! (Goats)
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to the Garganta Verde taken from afar
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Zahara and the Zahara-El Gastor Reservoir
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / View to Zahara and Nearby Mountains
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
  • / The Church of Santa Maria de Mesa at Sunset
    Photo: Josiah Skeats, Macs Adventure
m 700 600 500 400 300 200 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km Church of Santa Maria de la Mesa

This stunning loop walk from Zahara passes through two wild and remote valleys and enjoys several spectacular viewpoints which overlook the diverse landscapes of the area.

moderate
14.5 km
4:30 h
501 m
500 m

Zahara de La Sierra appears surrounded by a sea of olive groves which ripple over the undulating hills like a gentle ocean swell. The first section of the walk traverses this tamed countryside and passes isolated farmhouses.

After a few kilometres, the path leaves the olive groves behind and enters a small and wild valley. Even though the stream that courses through this valley may be dry much of the year, it still manages to inject life into the area. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, enjoy the pleasant shade of the native woodland, and smell the colourful flowers which bloom here. The path eventually enters a larger but equally impressive valley. Views stretch south to Garganta Verde, whose literal translation, ‘Green Throat’, refers poetically to the gaping canyon.

Zahara de la Sierra is a charming village to spend the night. The whitewashed houses cascade down the rocky outcrop like a wedding cake, and the village is crowned by a castle and tower; be sure to climb up to enjoy far-reaching views. Enjoy a meal and drink in one of the restaurants which have a terrace overlooking the azure waters of the reservoir sprawled across the valley.

Author’s recommendation

Some of the paths may be overgrown with brambles or gorse, so you might prefer to bring trousers and a long-sleeved shirt with you to prevent any scratches.

Part of this footpath crosses through a 'coto privado de caza' - a private hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and your walking is unlikely to be affected, but be sure not to deviate from the path.

outdooractive.com User
Author
Macs Adventure
Updated: March 05, 2020

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
582 m
Lowest point
284 m

Rest Stop

Al Lago Restaurant

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 path is along rocky steps; be careful as these may be slippery, especially when wet.

Part of this footpath crosses through a 'coto privado de caza' - a private hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time and is unlikely to be affected, but be sure not to deviate from the path.

Equipment

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

The path is overgrown in places today, sometimes with brambles and gorse, so you might prefer to wear trousers rather than shorts.

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

Church of Santa Maria de la Mesa

The church was constructed in 1755 with several of Spain’s important architects assisting in the designs. Its eye-catching design with a pink entrance, and blue and white tiles, is typical of the Sevilla-style and makes a memorable contrast to the whitewashed houses. There is a small parish museum inside.

 

Castle of Zahara de la Sierra

Throughout the 15th century, Zahara de la Sierra was on the northern frontier of the Muslim Kingdom. A network of outposts and fortresses helped defend this border with Zahara occupying a key strategic location. You can climb up to the 14th century Torre del Homenaje to enjoy both the superb and far-reaching views, and also connect with this historical relic. It has been recognised as a ‘Bien de Interés Cultural’ – Spain’s recognition of important cultural assets.

 

Food and Drink

After leaving Zahara there is nowhere to buy food or drink, or to refill water bottles today, so be sure to carry sufficient provisions with you.

Start

Plaza Mayor, Zahara de la Sierra (506 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
36.840599, -5.390606
UTM
30S 286832 4079857

Destination

Plaza Mayor, Zahara de la Sierra

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km – Start in the Plaza Mayor, with the church behind you and the Tourist Information on your left. Walk forwards, then after 20 metres, BEAR RIGHT onto the downhill road marked ‘Salida’ (exit), ignoring the left fork which has No Entry signs. As the path forks again after a further 30 metres, BEAR RIGHT to continue downhill following the signs for ‘Salida’.

0.08km – At the crossroads with a ‘No Through Road’ sign ahead, TURN LEFT.

0.22km – At the mini-roundabout, TURN RIGHT sharply to continue heading downhill on the cobbled road, still following the sign for ‘Salida’. Then at the tarmac road after 60 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over and follow the paved track on the far side. You will pass a wide gravel car parking area on your left.

0.56km – As the road bends sharply left and passes through a metal gate, BEAR RIGHT onto the downhill rocky path, walking parallel to the overhead lines.

0.98km – TURN LEFT to walk along the paved road. This road becomes more increasingly broken until it is unpaved. After 500 metres, TURN LEFT to walk along the main paved road. Walk on the shoulder on the left side, facing the oncoming traffic.

2.10km – Shortly after crossing a stone bridge over a stream you will pass a wide mud layby on your left. TURN LEFT to walk to the corner of the layby, passing the rubbish bins on your right, where you will find a footpath. After 100 metres the footpath crosses over the acequia (irrigation ditch). The nearby weir which diverts the water has a red and white blaze of paint to guide you.

2.70km – As the path splits with fencing and olive groves ahead, TURN RIGHT to climb a short, steep section of the field, using the cairns (piles of rocks) to guide you. Ignore the left fork even though it may appear more worn. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON at the crossroads after 20 metres to walk along the muddy track with fencing on either side.

3.60km – TURN LEFT as you reach the paved road. Walk on the left side, facing the oncoming traffic.

4.00km – Just before the road crosses a stream (which may be dry) and with a short section of metal railing on either side of the road, TURN LEFT to walk along the rocky track. This appears like it is the driveway to a private house, but the road continues past it. Ignore all side roads.

4.30km – As this road ends beside a third house, BEAR LEFT onto the narrow footpath. After 300 metres, CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to follow the footpath through a gate with a sign marked ‘Coto Privado de Caza’. Continue along this well-established footpath marked with occasional cairns as it heads through a luscious valley, keeping the (possibly dry) stream on your right. Ignore all vague side paths. The sign on the gate means you are entering a hunting area. The hunting season is roughly 3-months long, starting in early September, and only on the weekends. The footpath remains open during this time, but be sure not to deviate from the path.

5.90km – Shortly after passing through a gap in the fence the footpath crosses over the stream. After 20 metres the path crosses it again to walk with the stream on your right. Over the next 500 metres, the path will cross the stream and back a further two times. The path is generally easy to follow and marked with cairns but refer to the map if necessary.

6.40km – CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON through a gate; please close it behind you. The path now becomes slightly more overgrown and trickier to follow. Keep close to the dry-stone wall on your right, and keep following the occasional cairns. Check the map regularly.

7.20km – The dry stone wall bends left. CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to keep walking beside it.  

7.40km – TURN LEFT as you reach a gravel road beside a cattle grid. Remain on this gravel road for 6.4 kilometres, ignoring all side roads and enjoying the wonderful views. This road passes through two gates; please close them behind you.

11.80km – After crossing the bridge over the stream, BEAR LEFT to continue walking along the gravel road.

13.80km – As the gravel road bends left through a wide gate (which may be open) and with the tower and village of Zahara now looming above you, BEAR RIGHT onto the narrow footpath which winds uphill through olive groves.

14.10km – As the path emerges onto a paved road, BEAR RIGHT to head uphill. As the path splits in front of a stone wall after 100 metres, TURN LEFT. After 15 metres, just before reaching the tarmac road, BEAR RIGHT to climb up the cobbled road, passing through a ‘No Entry’ sign.

14.20km – At a paved road beside a zebra crossing (black-and-white road markings), CONTINUE STRAIGHT ON to cross over and continue climbing on the cobbled road. Ignore all side roads.

14.50km – Finish in the Plaza Mayor. If you’ve still got the energy, why not climb to the nearby tower?

Note


all notes on protected areas

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
14.5 km
Duration
4:30h
Ascent
501 m
Descent
500 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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