taken just below the Pico Veleta. Sierra Nevada, Spain, august 2003.
Left Alcazaba, right Mulhacén
Mulhacén is the highest mountain in continental
Spain (second after Pico de Teide / Tenerife). It stands at 3482m in the Sierra
Nevada. The National Park of Sierra Nevada and reserve of the Biosphere by
UNESCO has 171,643 hectares and its Maximum height, the Mulhacén, is the
ceiling of the Iberian Peninsula. Mulhacén takes its name from Muley Hassan,
father of Boabdil, who was buried at the foot of this impressive mountain.
From the top, you can see on a clear
day Africa to the south with the shimmering Mediterranean in the fore, and in
every other direction, the land dips away to reveal the marvels of the Sierra
Nevada mountain range and the whole of the Province of Andalucía.
Two young male Sierra Nevada ibex on Loma del
Mulhacen. In the background, Barranco del Poqueira. Taken while
descending Mulhacen on September 14th, 2007.
From the South:
The ascent from the South started in Capileira, a tiny, white washed town that
seems to flow down the slopes on the southern side of the Alpujarra mountains,
less than two hours by car from Granada. Follow the brownish valley of the Rio
Poqueira which is actually just a small stream. Up for hours past tiny farms
clinging to the steep slopes, fields of corn and grain, round stone platforms
where farmers used to crush and separate their wheat, summer corrals for sheep,
irrigation ditches perhaps centuries old.
Follow the track to Refugio Poqueira and stay the night over. Start early in
the morning for your final ascent with a steep walk heading summit.
From the trailhead take the old pass
road, it’s not very steep. Sometimes you can shortcut the turns. At a place
called “El Chorillo” (after 2 hours) leave the old road and use a
smaller trail (right hand side) up the east face of the mountain.
Take into account that there are no signs, so take a good map with you. Follow
the trail slightly under “Mulhacen 2″ (3362m) and traverse over rocks
(very easy) up to the summit.
Total time ca. 4.30 to 5 hours. You won’t be much faster downhill.
map for the trail towards the Laguna de la Caldera,
with the optional normal route to Mulhacen. part of the Map of the Sierra
Nevada National Park, 1:50.000 (available at the tourist information)
Cañada de Siete Lagunas with the two waterfalls
From the South-East:
Take the route from Tevelez.
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
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. Youll 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.
from Caldera hut
Where to stay
There are two guarded mountain huts in the Park, and some other
non-guarded huts. For those ones who prefer camping (wild camping), also known
as bivouac, they should know that ‘wild camping’ is allowed under some rules:
The camp should be over the 2000 meters in a place free of trees (to avoid
fires). There is a maximum of 15 persons, and after three days the camp should
be moved to another area of the Park.
These permits can be requested calling to the telephone nr. of one of the
offices (the one of ‘Medio Ambiente’) of the National Park: +34 958 026 300 or
958 026 303.
They will ask you for a written request that can be faxed to: +34 958 026 310
or even e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This permit is needed when climbing Mulhacén (or Alcazaba) from “Siete
Lagunas” (see routes).
del Poqueria on Mulhacen,Jan 2004
There are a few Refugios (see links Natural
Park Sierra Nevada section):
Poqueira Capileira. 2500 m. de altura. 87 beds, phone:
908.55.42.24 / 9184.108.40.206
Refugio del Caballo
Refugio-Vivac deLa Caldera
Postero Alto Jerez del Marquesado. 1800 m. de altura. 60 beds, phone:
9220.127.116.11 / 918.104.22.168
There is also a little non-guarded hut called Refugio-Vivac de la Carigüela del
Veleta a little
lower than that shelter, between Veleta and Tajos de la Virgen. If you like it
natural: Refugio Natural de Siete Lagunas
Pradollano offers you a lot of beds to choose from.
Camping is not officially allowed in the Sierra Nevada national park, but you
can get a permit to camp at the “refugio natural de siete lagunas”
which is a splendid camping place at 2890 metres between Trevelez and
For those ones who want to access Sierra Nevada from the south (Alpujarras),
specially for attempting the ´Capileira´ route, there is a nice tip to pass a
night in the valley before starting the mountain ascend: ´REFUGIO DE BUBIÓN –
LA ERMITA´ is a cheap, relatively comfortabel accomodation in the village of
Bubión, just the village before Capileira.
María Angeles and Javier are the owners of this accomodation at the entrance of
the village. They ask around 12 euro (other places ask around 24 euro P/P per
night for a bed, without food. Their place has a fully equipped kitchen where
one can cook his/her own meals. There are two toilets with shower (warm water)
and a kind of common cozy table. There is place for about 12 people.
The owners live in the village of Panpaneira, so you will have to phone them
and wait till they ride up to bring the keys. Tel. nrs.: +34 625564978 or +34
To trek in this area I advise to bring your own sleeping bag. Any case, there
are plenty of blankets under the seats (hidden?) of the dinner table.