Torrecilla, meaning 'Small Tower', is the highest peak in the Sierra de las Nieves, 'mountains of the snows', and sits at its southern end. This range, covering 18,530 hectares, stands on the border between the provinces of Malaga and Cadiz. In 1995 the park was declared a Biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Its previous status, dating back from 1970, had been as a National Hunting Reserve.
The park deserves its status, there park has a diverse landscape which changes from north to south, and as it climbs upwards. On the periphery of the park there is some farmland, although the land has never felt a strong agricultural presence. The north eastern quarter of the park, with a myriad of undulating ridges, is dominated by forest. Rocky outcrops occasionally break through the tree line. Above these, at around 1500m, meadows flow up from the forest. On the spine of the sierra there is a true wilderness feel. The park is also home to a rare species of Pinsapo (Spanish fir) trees, which only here and in one valley in the Riff Mountains in Morocco.
The summit of Torrecilla is prominent and forms a rough horseshoe with two satellite peaks. Its southern and eastern sides have the most extreme height drop- roughly 1500m into the deep valley floors below. The difference in height is less drastic to the north, and for several kilometres the sierra forms a high spine.
Although it is also the highest peak in Malaga, the province's highpoint
sits on slopes of Maroma
, dividing Malaga with the province of Granada.
The views form the summit provide wide views across the sea, the Sierra's, rolling hills and many white villages dotted across the landscape.
Buses run several times a day from Ronda and Malaga to Yunquera and Tolox and there is also good road access to the park. For bus information visit the estacíon de autobuses de Malága
From Yunquera there is a 5km track, which begins as a road leading into the park, a steady incline that takes about 1 1/2 hours to walk. There is parking at its end, which also has a wide viewing platform. Be aware that a set of gates may be locked some way below the platform. There is a second carpark before these.
From this road, leading up to the Platform of Yunquera there are well defined paths which lead through the forest valley leading up onto the higher glades. This route leads across the mountain range giving excellent views as it approaches Torrecilla, looming in the distance. The final ascent to the peak follows a well trodden path. This linear walk is just over 25km (from Yunquera).
The park rangers will ask you (at great length if) to remain on the paths as well as not to smoke. Fire is the parks greatest danger and fires are prohibited. There are conservation activities taking place throughout the park, which include new trees being planted on some of the upper slopes.
When To Climb
Torrecilla can be climbed round the year although the best time to visit is between march-may to avoid the summer heat, or between October-December. There is often snow between December-February.
It will be hot throughout spring, summer and through autumn so bring plenty of water. There are several sources of water across the Sierra but do not rely on them to be running.
The Sierra de las Nieves is a natural park and so camping is not allowed within its boundaries, as the park rangers will stress to anyone walking with a seemingly suspicious rucksack.
The best campsite for access is El Pinsapo Azul
in Yunquera. For those travelling without a car however it will mean a 5km trek up a track way to get into the park itself.
Further information can be found on the parks website
Here is the weather forecast for Malaga
to provide a rough idea of the weather for the Sierra de las Nieves.
The Tourist Information centre for the Sierra de las Nieves can be contacted by phone: 902111166 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org