TAKE THIS ROUTE!!!
The gouvernment has made the big mistake of trying to establish the highest autoway of Europe in a huge prestige project. After succeeding in constructing a disfiguring unpaved road it has been decided that cars are a bad influence on the high mountain environment (really?). After finally seeing the light the Sierra Nevada High Road has been closed down in 1998. I wouldn't argue with a few advantages of this road: 1) It has opened up the high Sierra Nevada for totally inexperienced walkers and people without stamina. 2) You can use the road to make great distance at high altitudes in a short time. 3) If you like mountainbiking, you could have the time of your life going upto 3200 metres.
However: Are you not just going to the Sierra Nevada for as much height as possible in as little time? Do you want to experience the fabulous, changing nature on a small one-man hiking trail while ascending 2000 metres? Do yourself a favour: TAKE THIS ROUTE!!!
Tevelez is easily reached by car from Granada or from Motril at the coast. From Granada follow "Motril" to the south on the N323. From the coast, follow the N323 from Motril to the north towrds "Granada". Leave the N323 for "Lanjaron". After Lanjaron, just befor Orgiva, turn left towards "Bubion, Pampaneira, Capileira" and follow the road to Trevelez.
Trevelez can also be reached by public transport. From the Granada busstation two Alsina Grealls busses a day are headed for Berchules, passing through Trevelez. This 3.45 hour thrilling bus ride is a fabulous way of seeing all the mountain villages of the high Alpujarras.
There is a nice all year camping one kilometer out of Trevelez on the road from Lanjaron. The village doesn't have any fancy outdoor shops, but it will support any supply shopping you'll want to do for a longer stay in the high Sierra Nevada.
To get to the trail, set out for the "bario medio" (middle quarters) and head up towards the hotel La Fragua and just after the hotel turn right under an arch. Turn right again at the T-crossing and a few moments later turn left into a small cattle-trail. There is a yellow arrow indicating the trail and there is also a Sierra Nevada national park hiking sign telling you that this trail is definitely going somewhere.
The trail, which leads to the farms higher up in the valley is gently inclining in the beginning. After half an hour you will reach a farm with a stone building on either side of the trail, 50 meters later, take a turn to the left at a dissection, the Siete Lagunas are indicated in this direction. The trail is indicated by cairns and occasional dots of paint. After a while just keep to the right of a fence going straight up the mountain. After half an hour, the trail swings to the northeast to join an irrigation channel called Acequia Gorda. After a while the trail swings uphill again, and after one hour you'll have reached the next irrigation channel and right after that an abandonned farm called La Campinuela. Just after the farm is a place where you can get fresh water. Following the trail you will cross the rio Culo de Perro (=dog's arse river, you'll find out why later). Here you will be able to see the ledge of the Cañada de Siete Lagunas with the two waterfalls coming off it. You follow the trail on the north side of the rio up to the base of the two waterfalls. After crossing the righthand waterfall, you'll have to find your way up through the steep rockfield just to the right of the lefthand waterfall, untill you suddenly emerge on the brim of the Cañada de Siete Lagunas.
If you have brought your camping gear and are making a more then one day trip in the Sierra's: camping places at 2900 metres don't come much nicer then this! If you've got time to spare you can either go upto the northside of the cañada towards the Alcazaba (+/- 3,5 hours), or you can immediately proceed up the Mulhacen.
To go to the Mulhacen, go to the most eastern part of the cañada where you'll find it possible to get up on the ridge bordering the cañada's south and west sides. The hike to the Mulhacen's summit is very straightforward: when you can't see the cairns or dots, just keep to the north side of the ridge, since it is this ridge that leads to the summit. You,ll make a gentle curve from due west to due north untill you'll join the last few metres of the more used trail heading up the Mulhacen from the south.
The route discribed is a long but not very hard hike, but for the weather and fierce sun. As ussual the level of a not too hard trip in the mountains is mostly set by the intelect and experience in mountaineering common sense of the person making the trip. Don't try it in a blizard and don't count on a lot of company out here to help tou when you screw up, this is the quiet way up the Mulhacen.
If you are going to camp high up in the Sierra Nevada, don't forget to take your warm sleepingbag, even in the summer night temperatures may drop close to freesing. Also take enough warm clothing, the sun may be shining all day but the wind can be chilling at almost 3500 metres.
No climbing experience is needed. If this hike is made in july or august there will be no snow. If you like snow, there will be plenty in the cold seasons, but since that is out of my leage I wouldn't dare on advising you about wether or not to go and what gear to bring.
There is no really great map for hiking in this area. I used a combination of two maps which was pretty good.
The best terain representation of the area is given by the spanish IGN Trevélez 1027-IV 1:25.000
map. To make up for the complete absence of hiking trails on this map, we used the Editorial Penebetica parque nacional Sierra Nevada 1:50.000
map which should give you a fair idea of where the trails are going.
Of course it can be very usefull to take your compass.
A lot of help is the Sierra Nevada entry in the lonely planet book "Walking in Spain" by John Noble, Miles Roddis and Matt Fletcher. ISBN: 0864425430.
If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.
photo material coming up shortly!!