Hiking events

Autumn in the Spanish Alpujarras region: hiking, biking, horseback riding and other adventures

ALTHOUGH some people mourn the end of summer, the ‘Alpujarreños’ welcome him. Not only is the Alpujarra region, on the southern flanks of the Sierra Nevada, more peaceful once the large groups of holidaymakers have returned home, but the cool autumn days are perfect for being active outdoors.

Where to start? Here are some recommendations from the Olive Press:

Go for a dip
Public swimming pools being closed, why not visit the natural swimming pools of the region? There are popular pools in Orgiva, Pampaneira, Capileira, Portugos and Trevelez. This area is known for its clear water, although El Chorreon, a waterfall just outside Portugos, is famous for its colors. The high ferrous oxide (iron) content of the rocks reacted with the water to create a bright orange background for the waterfall. This is not the place to swim!

To do: Take a towel and have a picnic.
Don’t: swim where it’s forbidden, otherwise you risk a fine.

Waterfall below Pampaneira. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Good campsite
Throughout the summer, campsites are crowded and can be expensive, but from September you’ll find space and better rates. This is partly because the weather is colder (especially in the mountains) but, if you don’t fancy sleeping under canvas, you’ll find bungalows, chalets and cabins at several sites. There are picturesque campsites in Orgiva, Pitres and Trevelez.

Do: Check that the campsite facilities, such as the bar/restaurant, are open in low season.
Don’t: Forget the assembly instructions for your tent.

Camping Orgiva Wooden Chalets 1
Wooden bungalows at the Órgiva campsite. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Hike on the trails
Professional hiking guides normally head to higher elevations with their clients in the summer, to avoid baking in the heat, but fall is ideal for hiking these low mountain trails. If you go it alone, you will find that most of the towns and villages in the region have marked hiking routes (shippers) of varying lengths and difficulties. Further information is available from local tourist offices.

The most famous route is the Alpujarran section of the GR7 hiking trail that connects Greece to Tarifa. The bravest (or the strongest in the knee) can start in Lanjaron, in the Alpujarras of Granada, and continue to Laroles, which is at the other end of the Alpujarras region, in the province of Almeria. This is a great hike that lasts several days. For a weekend or day trip, choose a less ambitious section, such as the section from Cáñar to Soportujar, or Busquistar to Capileira.

Do: Download the Wikiloc app showing the trail so you don’t get lost if you miss any signposts.
Don’t: Wear inappropriate footwear.

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A sign indicating the GR7 hiking trail. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Horse riding
Riders know that fall is perfect for longer rides, with less intense sun and fewer flies. Popular equestrian centers in the area include Pegasus (Órgiva), Caballo Blanco (Lanjaron), Dallas Love Sierra Trails (Capileira) and Rutas en Caballo (Berchules).

There are beautiful and challenging trails along the mountain peaks, such as Puente Palo above Cáñar to Refugio Elorrieta, which overlooks the Sierra Nevada ski resort. Nothing is more inspiring than these views! Some of the easier marked hiking routes are suitable for equestrians, but if you are a horse owner and not part of an organized group, check first.

Do: Wear pants with no protruding seams (ouch) and heeled boots.
Don’t: Book a hike that is beyond your capabilities.

Elorietta Hut
Horses at Refugio Elorietta. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Get on a mountain bike
Cycle tourism is extremely popular in La Alpujarra, and some large-scale mountain biking events take place in autumn, such as the Alpujarra Magna in Lanjaron on September 24. With hundreds of participants, it’s a great event for spectators. But, rather than watching others ride, why not pedal in the mountains? Choose your route carefully; if you’re a novice without well-developed calf muscles, you may end up getting off and pushing your bike.

Do: Buy shorts with padding if you are running a distance.
Don’t: Go too hard and cause medical problems.

Photographic trips
While summer is characterized by harsh light, fall here is a photographer’s dream. Even before the leaves begin to turn golden, the Alpujarra has its moody clouds and breathtaking sunsets. Recommended shooting locations include the Sierra de Contraviesa, with its fabulous views on both sides of the mountain; the rural tracks above Capileira; and the slopes above Cáñar – the ‘balcony of the Alpujarra’.

Do: Find a unique vantage point with foreground elements to frame your shot, such as overhanging branches or foliage.
Don’t: Head straight for the marked “watchtower” in the midday sun, as the resulting shots will likely look crap.

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Sunset over Lanjarón. Photo: Jo Chipchase.

Looking for food
You can look for almonds, hazelnuts, figs and various types of delicious berries at this time of year in the Alpujarra, as well as wild mushrooms. October is the season to find chestnuts to take away and roast.

Do: Call in an expert if you’re looking for edible mushrooms – toxic ones can be deadly.
Don’t: Eat anything that you haven’t correctly identified or that grows along a busy road.

find a party
After all that hiking, biking, and looking for super healthy food, have fun at a fiesta. Many towns and villages in the Alpujarra hold their annual festivals in autumn (for example, the feria d’Órgiva which takes place from September 29 to 31) and several other events are organized throughout the region at this time of year to celebrate the patron saints. This is Spain: there is always a party somewhere.

Do: Have fun with Spanish friends and neighbours.
Don’t count on a quiet or early night.

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