Overview of Tolox
To the south of the village of Yunquera, separated by the Hoyo de las Colmenas and deep ravines leading down from the Sierra de las Nieves, sits the village of Tolox.
At its rear, steep slopes rise into pine forests that grow below the spine of the high sierra. On other sides the village is surrounded by green fields, olive groves and orchards. Looking east, the land drops away to the valley floor below. On the horizon, rippling hills fade into blue haze.
Tolox, known for its famous spars, is in my mind, once of the most sedate villages I’ve visited in Andalucia. The streets arequiet and from what I saw the Toloxeños matched their reputation for serenity. It wasn’t until after my visits, researching for this article, that I found out about their wilder side. Twice a year, the pulse of the villages races high with the Tolox Carnival, and the Día de los Polvos- where the village runs around throwing talcum powder at one another. So be careful when you go!
From Malaga the journey to Tolox takes about an hour. The earliest bus will get you to the village for 10am, giving about six hours until the return bus. After two attempts, this route was too long for the window between buses. Your best form of transport is by car (going through the town of Coin first).
Overview of the route
This is a route through pine forest and up the steep slopes above Tolox to a pass at 1200m, a path then climbs to the summit of Torrecilla (1918m).
It is possible to add this route onto the end of the 'Platforma de Yunquera to Torrecilla' route (or vica versa) to create a south-north traverse of the Sierra de las Nieves, which involves summiting Torrecilla and then walking across the Sierra and down into Yunquera. The logistics of this would be difficult with cars (you would need two and patience for the long drive back to the first) or splitting the walk into two days.
As village of Tolox sits at 315m and the summit at 1918m the total elevation for this route is 1603m. Part of this route is circular and it is possible to do a shorter version with about 900m of height gain.
Walk up and through the village following the road beside the river. The two will soon part (marked by the statue of an Ibex) and begin to climb upwards. Continue to follow the road, which winds up and above the village.
This will eventually lead past the football grounds and on up to a hotel standing on top of a ridge (visible form the village). Here the road becomes a track way. Continue along. Views of the high Sierra will now have opened up. The track way will turn back on itself several times and level out.
Ridge leading towards Torrecilla.
There is a single green ridge coming down from the west (coming down from 1300m hills below Torrecilla). A small track way will split from the main as the track bends a corner and head uphill. Ignore this turn off (an optional return route). This is a noticeable point as it is out of the trees, with a map post nearby. Round the bend the track begins to descend gently and meanders through forest towards Torrecilla. This will go on for several kilometres.
At a ridge, the track way will eventually split. Take the east route (walking above track way previously taken) and it will begin to climb steeply uphill along a firebreak. Ensure that you do not take any trackways going downhill. Your aim now is to crest the ridge.
On the ridge a solid path forms. Follow this as it begins to descend, crossing towards the steep hills directly below the final slopes of Torrecilla. The path will traverse these on the left side. Follow them round until you come to the col between them and the final slope.
At this point there is a low fence and a track way. For the return (or a shorter hike) pass through it and follow the track way. Look for the place where it returns to going through forest. At the point where it crosses the ridge you were on earlier turn off the track way and instead it follows the grassy ridge eastwards. This will take you all the way back to the first split in the track way mentioned earlier.
To continue to the summit, there is a clear path heading west from the col. It traverses the mountain and crosses two river valley. There is a small and easy to miss path that turns off on the ridge (so follow the map carefully). You will be on the right track if you come to a large fallen tree that blocks the route. After this the path joins the ridge and begins to zig zag upwards (finally marked with cairns).
At 1500m the path traverses under the lower peaks along the ridge across loose rock (covered in shrubs). The path may be difficult to find and if you loose it head to the ridge, on which there is a path to the summit.
Full days supply of water (and plenty of it) as there are no sources. In the summer months it is very hot.
Information on Tolox: