I love hiking and doing nature explorations when I go to a new place. So when I was planning my time in Spain, I knew I wanted to find a way to fit some trekking in. I had heard that hiking Sierra Nevada mountains was unique and beautiful, so I looked for a tour company that could show me the best of this beautiful range during our short stay in Granada.
I found Sierra y Sol online and got excited about the countless tours I found listed on their site. I picked the one that looked most interesting to me, the Dehesa del Camarate and emailed to ask about setting up a hike. But the suggestion I got from the owner, Teresa, was even better! She suggested that we visit 3 very different regions in the Sierra Nevada mountains in one day, doing some hiking at each one. It sounded like the perfect way to get to know the area quickly!
Check out my breakdown of our full day hiking Sierra Nevada mountains with Sierra y Sol tours, plus a video of the day below.
Preparation: Hiking Sierra Nevada Mountains
Teresa with Sierra y Sol tours made sure that our day of hiking Sierra Nevada mountains went smoothly from start to finish. Before our tour, she sent us an email with instructions on what to wear, and what food to bring. This was super helpful so we knew how to be prepared for the different climates and make sure we had enough water and food supplies for the day. I’ve been on some tours where I had to go out of my way to ask these questions, so it was great to have a proactive tour operator that wanted to make sure we’d be comfortable and prepared.
Besides that, Sierra y Sol provides hiking sticks to their tour members. I found this so helpful since I would never be able to travel with the large and cumbersome sticks. But they were very useful at certain portions of the hike, especially the loose gravel sections of the first portion of our hiking Sierra Nevada mountains.
Our day began meeting at a central point at 8am to get on the road. The meeting point was easy to get to and centrally located.
Teresa had suggested that we bring 2 liters of water each. My friend and I planned to buy our water on the way to meet Sierra y Sol the morning of our tour. However we didn’t realize that Spain wakes up quite late, so on our walk at 7:30am, literally nothing was open. Luckily, once we met Teresa, she suggested we stop at a gas station on the way out of town. It was the only thing open, so we were very happy to be able to stock up on our much needed water!
Haza Larguilla: Hiking Sierra Nevada Mountains
We then continued on to our first stop on our tour hiking Sierra Nevada mountains - Haza Larguilla. Each place we visited was incredibly different from the next.
Haza Larguilla is a dry, mostly scrubby mountain range. The path is gravely, and there are two nice peaks you can climb to that are a little bit challenging, but don’t take much time to reach.
The sun was just starting to rise, so we had lots of views of pretty misty mountains and early morning light filtering through the peaks.
We began with a lesson in the geography and history of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Teresa had a great topographical map, that made it easier to understand the elevation and how the range was formed.
Teresa taught us that millions of years ago, the range were just some small islands in the ocean. Over time the plates below shifted and the earth rose up out of the sea, becoming the Andalusian region of Spain.
We learned so much about the unique topography of the Granada region For instance, the highest point is 3478 meters or 11,411 feet. And this range is extremely close to the coast. So the elevation goes from sea level all the way up to 11,411 feet within only 75 kilometers. This makes for extremely varied climates all within a close range of each other.
As we began our hike, Teresa would point out rock formations that she had explained to us earlier, or any other interesting thing like a plant that was native to the region.
We continued up, winding up some switchbacks until we reached the first peak. There was a great view of the range and valley below. We continued down and back up to the second peak which had another amazing view. And we had the peaks totally to ourselves at that hour (remember 10am is still early for Spaniards!) 🙂
Carcavas del Marchal: Hiking Sierra Nevada Mountains
Our next stop was the amazing canyon and rock formations at Carcavas del Marchal. This was my favorite part of the day - this national park is incredibly unique and beautiful. The dramatic rock formations almost looked like something out of the American southwest.
We were surrounded by orange and yellow flat plateaus followed by a dramatic cliff into a wide and flat basin. The rock formations of the cliffs were textured and so interesting to look at.
Teresa again gave us an explanation of how this topography was formed. Millions of years ago, the strait of Gibraltar was not a straight, but a land mass connecting Africa to Europe. Instead there was a sea that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean that passed through this valley. Over millions of years the land masses changed, but this deep valley remained, and the water that passed through it created the erosion that made the unique rock formations and caves. Many locals now live in cave houses in the mountain. The home will have a normal front facade, but the rest of the home will actually be in the cave.
We walked around the top of the plateau, marveling at the dramatic cliffs and rocks. I loved the deep orange and yellow colors of the earth here. I would have loved to stay longer, or do some hiking down into the basin.
Dehesa del Camarate: Hiking Sierra Nevada Mountains
Our last stop was the Dehesa del Camarate - a completely different type of landscape, but still in the same mountain range. This time we’d be hiking Sierra Nevada mountains in a forested and lush area that reminded me a bit of the American Northeast.
First, we needed to refuel with some lunch! We sat in a nice wooded area and pulled out the food we brought along. Teresa and her husband shared some fresh tomatoes and quince paste with manchego cheese.
After finishing up our lunch, we were ready to continue on! We started our hike on the main trail and passed some other families out enjoying the day.
The changing of fall colors here makes hiking Sierra Nevada mountains popular this time of year. Since we were hiking in October, we saw lots of trees changing to yellow, orange, red, and pink as we hiked.
The path was well maintained and wide. We hiked up and up switchbacks passing cows on our way. This area was traditionally used by farmers to move their cattle or livestock across for grazing or to find food. This is still allowed in the Sierra Nevada mountain national park since it was a traditional use of the land.
The full Dehesa del Camarate hike takes a full day. But since we were visiting 3 different regions of the Sierra Nevada mountains in one day, we would only have time for a portion of the hike. So we hiked up to a mountain pass, getting a good view of valley below.
By this time, we were pretty tired! So we were ready to head back down.
Final Thoughts on Hiking Sierra Nevada Mountains with Sierra y Sol
I loved hiking Sierra Nevada mountains with Sierra y Sol. I learned so so much about the history, culture, and geology of this region of Spain. Over the next few days, I would see or hear something in Granada, and would remember something Teresa taught us during our tour. It helped to connect a lot of dots, giving me a better understanding of this part of Spain and a better appreciation for everything else I learned after.
Teresa is an extremely passionate tour guide. It’s obvious she has a deep love for Andalusia and wants to continue to learn and impart this knowledge on others. Her enthusiasm is infectious and makes the tour that much more fun. We loved learning about Granada, the Sierra Nevada mountains, and Andalusia through her eyes.
The tour itself was so interesting. I’ve never visited 3 such different regions in one day, let alone hiked, explored and learned about them. It was so cool to see how diverse hiking Sierra Nevada mountains can be.
Sierra y Sol’s tours are completely customizable. Teresa seems to know everything about the region and wants to make the best tour possible for anyone who books with her. If you’re interested in getting to know a wide variety of regions and landscapes, the 3 region tour is an excellent way to do that. Or if you have other interests, physical limitations, or anything else - just tell Teresa and she’ll recommend a perfect tour for you.
I’d highly recommend booking a trekking tour with Sierra y Sol if you’re interested in hiking Sierra Nevada mountains. They’re experts on the area, passionate and friendly, and you’ll have a great day enjoying the gorgeous scenery of the Sierra Nevada mountains!
Tour Company: Sierra y Sol
Price: Varies depending on the type of tour and number of people. Check their "Choose a Trip" page for more details.
Location: Placeta de Liñan 5, 18010, Granada
Contact: [email protected]
Disclosure: this post is written in partnership with Sierra y Sol. All views and opinions are my own, and I wouldn't recommend anything I don't love!