Peak San Cristóbal at dawn.
Shared between two of the southern more provinces of Spain –Málaga and Cádiz- , rises the ‘Sierra de Grazalema’
. Next to the fact that the whole region is one of the most beautiful and interesting natural areas in Spain, it is a mountain paradise
. The visitor cannot expect huge mountain ranges and big walls. Nevertheless, despite its relative low altitude, there are many interesting routes to walk-up and some challenging rocky formations where can be climbed the whole year. The highest point of this wide system of ‘sierras’ is “Torreón”, with 1.647 meters
. The most spectacular climb is the one of the “Pico San Cristóbal”
, an elegant limestone cone which rises 1.525 meters. “El Reloj”
(1.531 m), “Simancón”
(1.565 m) and “Navazo Alto”
(1.393 m) are other known mountains of the Sierra. Sport climbing is possible in the neighbourhood of the villages of Grazalema and Benaojan.
All these mountains are located, since 1984, in the heart of an amazing protected Natural Park (UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve since 1977)
which tries to preserve one of the only three locations in the world where the endemic Mediterranean firn tree known as “Pinsapo”
(Abies Pinsapo Boiss
) grows. This unique firn forest can be seen from the ridges of the highest mountains of the Sierra or, even better, can be walked through well marked paths. These forests and summits are the house of many mammal species like Spanish Wild Goat, Roe Deer and even Wild Cats and Otters. Over our heads will fly Golden Eagles and Vultures Leonados. For all these, free walking and climbing is resticted, and a special permit is required to entry the ‘Reservoir Zone’, the very sanctuary of this natural jewel.
The Pinsapo Forest
When visiting “Sierra de Grazalema”
we have to know that this ‘Sierra’ is, actually, a generic name
that bounds different and separated small mountain ranges. The wildest and higher ranges, the ‘heart’ of the Park, are ‘Sierra del Pinar’ (where ‘Torreón’ rises) and ‘Sierra de las Cumbres’ (with the ‘Pico San Cristóbal’ as a link between this sierra and Sierra del Pinar). Just next to these and to the south there is ‘Sierra del Endrinar’ with ‘El Reloj’ and ‘Simancón’ mountains. The limestone dome of ‘Navazo Alto’ rises southern, in the ‘Sierra del Caillo’. There are other minor mountain ranges.
For more information about this area you can go to the official page of the Natural Park Sierra de Grazalema
, in Spanish.
The public transport
facilities are the ones offered by the bus company of "Los Amarillos"
(Select 'national', then appears a Search Engine in Spanish), which covers the line Málaga (International Airport) to Ubrique (small village at the SW of the Natural Park of Grazalema) and passes by some villages around the Sierra del Pinar and Sierra de las Cumbres, where our mountain rises. This company will stop in Ronda and in the mountain village of Grazalema, very close to all the main trailheads of the area.
the main road is the C-344, which crosses the park practically through its centre in a E-W direction, and passes by the main villages of Grazalema (Centre of the park), Benamahoma and El Bosque. In fact, this road passes all along the southern extreme of the 'Reservoir Zone' and Sierra del Pinar, the very heart of the park and the place where the trailhead to Torreón begins.
This road can be reached from the city of Ronda over the 339, that connects the coast city of San Pedro de Alcántara with the inside provinces. Finally, San Pedro de Alcántara is about 60 km away from Málaga by the N-340 (direction Cádiz).
Final ridge to San Cristóbal peak.
Walking and climbing does not require any permit when done out of the ‘Reservoir Zone’. When you want to enter this specially protected area you will need a permit
that can be requested at one of the offices of the park: the ‘Visitors Centre’ in the village of El Bosque.
The permits are released two weeks in advance and it is wise to book it in advance since the park authorities only issue a limited number of permits for the day. When entering this ‘Reservoir Zone’ without permit you should be aware that they do control the possession of permits and there is a fine up to € 90,- for those ones without it.
The telephone number for booking this permit is: +34 956 727029 at the El Bosque office (Avda. de la Diputación s/n ~ Cádiz).
The permit can be picked the same day in one of the offices of the park, in El Bosque, but also in the Visitors Centre in Grazalema Village. In some cases, when one wants to make an early start, before the opening hours of the offices, they might accept to send the permit over the fax.
The lands within the ‘Reservoir Zone’ are those ones included in an imaginary triangle which vertex would join the villages of Benamahoma in the SE, Grazalema in the SO and Zahara de la Sierra in the NO. To the south the limit of the zone walks along the road that joins Grazalema village with Benamahoma. To the east the border follows the road from Grazalema to Zahara de la Sierra. The area includes ‘Sierra del Pinar’ and ‘Torreón’ mountain, ‘Sierra de las Cumbres’ and ‘San Cristóbal’ peak, the ‘Pinsapos’ forest, the amazing ‘Garganta Verde’ (Green Gorge) and its 350 meters deep gorge of the ‘Ballesteros’ River.
On the top of this, entrance to the ‘Sierra del Pinar’ area and to the ‘Pinsapo tree forest’ is forbidden without guide in the summer months
(from June 1st till September 30th) to prevent forest’s burns.
Sierra del Pinar North Face
Torreón is easily climbed from the south over the 'normal' route
. This is a short hike of a two and a half hours which starts at the km 44,5 (aprox.) of the road Grazalema-El Bosque and ascends by a well marked path till the summit over the softer south slope of the Sierra del Pinar. It is not the most beautiful hike but yes the quickest, and it can be used as a way to reach the summit ridge, from where more interesting trekings are possible.
The west-ridge route
starts ar the Camp Site known as 'El Llano del Campo' (800 m high), (km 40,5 of the road Grazalema-El Bosque) and completes the whole system of rocky spurs and west ridges up to Torreón. It takes about 6 hours to complete. It can be combined with the normal route to descend (1 hour descending over the normal route).
The most technical route is the one over the east-ridge
. A trained mountaineer will need 6 hours to complete the track that joins the parking place (1.040 m high), half kilometer away (direction 'Puerto de las Palomas' - Zahara) from the crossroad of the road that goes from Grazalema to Zahara, with the summit of Torreón. This route passes over the impressive San Cristóbal Peak and traverses its sharp rocky ridge.
Combining the West ridge with the East one we will have an 'integral' traverse
of the Sierra del Pinar, which will take a whole long mountaineering day to complete.
Ascends over the wild and steep north face are not known to me.
There are some areas for camping in the park.
Camping Tajo Rodillo
, in Grazalema (next to the ‘Peñon Grande’ climbing sector). Useful for climbing ‘San Cristóbal’ peak, ‘Simancón’ and ‘El reloj’ mountains, but also a good resting place when climbing Torreón.
West section of the Sierra del Pinar Ridge
The best map of the Park is, maybe, that one edited by the ‘Centro Nacional de Información Geográfica (CNIG)’ at 1:50.000 scale, published with the name “Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema”. The contact address is:
General Ibañez de Ibero 3
28003 Madrid Spain
Tel. nr.: +34 91 597 96 83 and +34 91 597 96 84
Another old but detailed map is the sheet 14-44, from the 'L' (1:50.000) series of the 'Servicio Geográfico del Ejército' (Militar map). In fact all the maps are based on this one like a main source.
The Park administration has some other publications and maps of the area which can be purchased at the Park’s Visitors Centres, Administrative and Tourist Information Offices.
The weather is an issue when walking by these Sierras. Grazalema and the Sierra del Pinar is the first big range the atlantic fronts meet when sweeping the country from west to east. This makes this area one of the wettest of Spain, with many days of rain.
The weather forecast for Andalucía and Cádiz can be checked at:
a very complete page (in Spanish) which offers a forecast for the whole region or even for each province separately.
Weather Forecast for the parks of Andalucía
is a very informative page (in Spanish) with a 10 days forecast for all the National and Natural Parks.
is the page of the National Meteorological Services of Spain. It is the source of many other weather sites in the internet, press and TV news.