A hike along the Vereda de la Estrella, Granada

The mid-level mountain walk is around the beautiful Genil valley and offers some spectacular views of the highest peaks in the Sierra Nevada - including the Alcazaba, the Mulhacen and the Veleta. 

It is best done in Spring and/or Autumn.

Hiking in the Sierra Nevada 

We went last week. With an exceptionally heavy snowfall this year in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the snow melt has filled the rivers and created an authentic paradise in the lower valleys. I have never seen it so lush. 

Everything seems to have to come to life, with butterflies, birds, wildflowers and waterfalls on almost every corner. 

About La Vereda de la Estrella

This is the track we followed and found it to be spot on:

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You follow the course of the Genil river throughout nearly all of the hike. 

You need to be in good physical condition. The circular route is over 20kms with some pretty big altitude changes. The maximum height is just under 2000, which can be very taxing for people not used to hiking/mountaineering. 

Special care needs to be taken in the winter months, crampons are recommended. Snow and ice are common at these altitudes.

Sierra Nevada, Spain Hiking

Even during spring and the summer months, its important to bear in mind that most of the walk is above 1,500m, weather and conditions can change very quickly. Come prepared. 

There are two open mountain refuges en route. The biggest of the two is called the Refugio de la Cucaracha and slightly further on is the Refugio del Aceral. If trapped in adverse conditions, they can offer shelter and very basic amenities. 

The route

Traditionally, the route was used by mules and donkeys to carry copper and silver back from the Estrella and Probadora mines. As such, the path is wide and in relatively good condition. 

The only section of the walk that is slightly problematic is just after the Cucaracha refuge, where the path becomes rocky and slightly less distinct. 

Genil river, Guejar Sierra, Granada

You can avoid the steep climb (to the Cucaracha refuge) and any navigation problems by following the linear and official Vereda de la Estrella path. Most people do. 

If you can though, I suggest opting for the circular route outlined above, the views are breathtaking and well worth the effort.

For some great information on the shorter linear route (in Spanish) by Jesús Cascón Katchadourian

Getting there

The walk starts near an area called Baranco de San Juan - map 

You need to follow signs and drive through a village called Güéjar Sierra. Upon reaching the village, keep following signs for the river (Río Genil) it is also labelled Río Maitena. The road drops down and rightwards, passing various small hotels and restaurants. 

At the bottom there is a sharp left and the road becomes a track. Follow the track, always staying leftwards going through two tunnels and crossing over a couple of bridges. At the end of the track you'll find the Barranco de San Juan. 

You can't miss it, there is a large parking area and a restaurant - which offers a reasonably priced and well deserved meal for when you finish!