Andalucía Photography Sierra Nevada Diary Spain Travel

Hiking in The Sierra Nevada: Monte Trevenque & Los Cahorros

April 26, 2013
Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking
Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

View from the peak of Monte Traveque

‘Hiking’ is not one of my hobbies. To be honest, I have rarely hiked anywhere if the upshot of it hasn’t involved me being able to turn around, strap myself to a snowboard and hurl myself back down from whence I came. I’ve been up Machu Picchu and – wait for it – Ben Nevis before, and both climbs were thoroughly enjoyable and memorable to say the least, but neither experience left any irrevocable longing to partake in the practice on a regular basis.

I’m not so sure of that anymore.

Last Saturday, I was invited by a group of friends to join them for a day’s hiking in the stunning Sierra Nevada mountain range. The chosen trail was the long, gravelly and rugged route up to the peak of Monte Trevenque – known to locals as ‘El rey’ (ooh er), followed by a walk through the cascading terrains of Las Cahorros in Monachil if time permitted it. Other than passing through on my way to the ski resort, I’d never been to Monachil nor any of its surrounding areas before. It was a no-brainer.

Monte Trevenque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Next morning, we left Granada aboard the 181 bus and arrived in Monachil at around 11am. We were supposed to meet several others and our guide for the day but in typical Spanish Sunday style, things had gotten off to a slow start. A quick snooze, one revitalising glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and about an hour and a half later, and we were finally piling into the back of a Citroen hatchback so that we could be taken to the starting point of the 10km round hike.

The route starts near Fuente del Hervidero, a traditional country fare restaurant situated on the edge of the Sierra Nevada national park, though most walkers generally begin at the car park a km or so further up the road. This, sensibly, is what we did, though not before stopping to fill several plastic 2L bottles at the restaurant’s fresh mountain water reserve – an importance that cannot be underestimated given the entirely exposed locale of the mountainous domain.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

It begins…

We set off in zipped up sweaters under a cloudy sky, though only a matter of minutes had passed before the sun broke through and the layers were being stuffed back into rucksacks. For at least an hour, the terrain maintained a very steady incline, which zigzagged its way around the sandy wastelands, offering splendid views of the lower-lying Las Arenales along the way.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking, arenales

Squint and you’ll be able to read it…

Our guide, Wayne – an outgoing, brawny and Manchester bred fella (ey up!)  – was already a friend of ours, and had offered to take us out for a very agreeable fee. He was a living and breathing brochure for the Sierra Nevada – full of facts and answers to any questions we posed to him. I only wish he had told me about the callous and spiky-natured plant life along the trail before I accidentally grabbed a handful of one in order to stop myself from falling. I’m still plucking splinters out of my fingers from that almost a week later.

Further along we stopped beneath a cluster of jagged rock-forms perched on top of a sandy mound. We raced to the tip of the highest one where we mucked about pretending to be apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey for a bit, and then stopped being silly and carried on.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Aren’t we a wild bunch?

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking, josh taylor

Eventually, the route began to steepen, and before we knew it, the gravel was slipping away from beneath our boots (or in my case a pair of hole-ridden converse). The peak loomed in front of us, yet still seemed miles away. Some climbers on their way back down bid us a cheerful ‘hola’, while others warned of the ridge’s sharp increase in steepness towards the top. Honesty is good.

“Take small steps and tread with the soles of your feet!” yelled Wayne from behind me.

Small steps, soles of feet, small steps, soles of feet. Keeeep it steady…

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

What a view…

Miraculously, each of us made it to the summit without slipping. Dare I say we were beginning to feel like seasoned pros.

There we stood at 2079m overlooking the entire Sierra Nevada national park. It was magnificent. Below us the rolling rises and arid plateaus stretched out to the shimmering haze of Granada on the horizon, and up in the distance between various other mountain ranges, we could even see the ski resort’s La Laguna chairlift where some of us had been exactly a week before.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

La Laguna Chairlift, Sierra Nevada Ski Resort

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking, josh taylor

Yo

We were in no hurry to begin the descent, so we took our time snacking, gazing, exploring and even napping in some cases. Wayne pointed out a couple of tiny manger displays at the highest point, which had been assembled by a visiting Catholic group on a recent trip. A pair of Ibex that showed up minutes later proved far more interesting to watch. Surprisingly, neither seemed particularly bothered that we were just a few feet away from them, though they did get a bit iffy when my friend attempted to close in for a closer look.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Da Crib

IMG_1032 copy

Crazy Fool

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking, ibex

It won’t work…

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking, ibex

Best photo I’ve taken yet?

Eventually, we got moving again, treading even more carefully than before. The descent is a lot more dangerous, and takes its toll on your legs. If you’re very surefooted and half mad then like Wayne and aforementioned friend you might prefer to jump and skid your way down (the gravelly section). Personally, I was content to continue with the ‘small steps, soles of feet’ approach. I prefer not to tempt fate.

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Small steps, soles of feet…

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Horses in the Dry Valley

Just as the gradient eased off we moved into La Rambla, a dusty, dried up river valley with very little vegetation. Sooner or later, this developed into a small pass that led us back to the route where we had originally started. Before long, we were chomping on giant olives and sipping ice-cold tubos back at the restaurant. Annoyingly, the kitchen had already closed – even though there appeared to be various other groups returning from lengthy walks, all equally as famished. Why I ask? Why!?

Monte Treveque, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Yeah we just climbed that!

It was late by the time we arrived at Los Cahorros, a sprawling, waterfall abounding area just twenty or so minutes from the town of Monachil. Our group size had reduced to four, including Wayne, and rather predictably there was nobody else around at 7pm. We had the whole place to ourselves.

It was lots of fun; from scrambling under or around protruding rocks that blocked our path to scampering beneath gushing waterfalls and along wobbly rope bridges, our tired legs – unbelievably – still had some energy left in them. At one point we passed a bikini top that had been nailed to a rock hanging over the stream. According to Wayne, its previous owner had climbed from underneath the overhang and up the front side, simply to prove that she had managed such a feat by flaunting the colourful garment for all to see. We were suitably impressed, though apparently not enough for me to remember to take a photo of it. Doh!

Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Los Cahorros

Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

The rope bridge suspended over the falls. Bring’s out the Indiana Jones in anyone.

Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

The day finished with yet more beer and generous portions of carne en salsa at one of Wayne’s favourite local bars. We all agreed that it was undoubtedly the best carne and salsa any of us had ever had, ever.

Whether you’re into hiking or not, The Cuerda del Trevenque and Los Cahorros are two gems well worth investigating, though the former is considered to be one of the more difficult routes throughout the park, so maybe start smaller if you’re not match fit so to speak. The best time to visit is in late spring, after all the snow has disappeared and before the heat becomes insufferable.

I found this blog that has a lot of useful information for anybody keen to learn more. I know I’ll be using it a fair bit from now on anyway…

Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking Los Cahorros, Spain, Sierra Nevada, España, hiking

 Have you been hiking in the Sierra Nevada? Where else is worth going to? Any suggestions most welcome!

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  • Fiona Flores Watson April 27, 2013 at 5:47 am

    Great post Josh, sounds like an excellent trek. Fantastic scenery – what spectacular views fron the top, talk about panoramic! Great photos, especially on the rocks and the waterfall. Well done for getting the ibex – shame your did that annoying thing of focussing on the twigs just in front of it! You’ve made me want to go hiking too, though my options are more limited with two small kids. Shall be looking for family-friendly hikes in sierras near here. Can’t wait to read about your next adventure!

    • Fiona Flores Watson April 27, 2013 at 5:48 am

      Your camera

    • Josh May 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      Thanks for reading! Yes the hike was fantastic and the views from the top breathtaking – literally! I actually quite liked the way the camera focused on the twigs instead of the ibex, though I don’t doubt it would’ve been better the other way round.

      There’s some pretty epic hiking to be had between Seville and Jerez isn’t there? I went in my first year in Spain but can’t remember the name!

  • Marianne April 28, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Great photos, Josh. Sounds like you might have just become a ‘hiker’ 🙂

  • vidasurrealista May 28, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    As I was doing some research to write about my experience in Los Cahorros, I stumbled upon your blog where you also recommend Wayne, so I linked you so I am not the only one saying great things about him. Here is my post in case you want to take a look: http://vidasurrealista.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/el-surrealismo-del-trekking-en-sandalias/

    Hope you like it! Great post! I loved it!

    • Josh May 28, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      Hey thanks for commenting! Wayne is a super guy – both as a mountain guide and a friend. I checked out your post and left a comment 🙂

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  • Julie Goulding March 6, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    This looks amazing! We are booked for a back packing trip to Croatia in August, but this looks really appealing also. Always helps picking new places when people post lots of pictures. Thanks
    Julie Goulding recently posted…What are the Best 2 Man Tents? | See Our 2 Person GuideMy Profile

    • Josh March 11, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Totally welcome Julie. This part of Spain is overlooked in my opinion– not enough people realise there are so many fantastic hiking, rock-climbing opportunities to be had in Andalucía! Where are you going in Croatia? You might find some more useful info on my travel blog Cheeky Jaunt, where I have covered Croatia quite a bit!

  • Natalie February 25, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Wow! The pictures look amazing!
    When did you make this trip? I am visiting Granada in 3 weeks, and hiking the sierra is one of my list.
    Did you do this route with a guide or simply using downloaded maps?
    Also, did you hike the route with normal sports shoes?
    Thank you!

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