Travel Where to Wander

Hiking National Parks in South Spain

We had so much fun hiking, driving, and exploring all of the wonderful National Parks in South Spain. Side note: many are called Natural Parks (Parque Natural) but for our purposes we couldn’t tell the difference between U.S. National Parks and Spanish Natural Parks.

The first thing we noticed while hiking our first Spanish National Park: there were no people. HELLOOOOO where is everyone?? We thought we were in some quarantined area and the Spanish National Guard was going to accost us with tasers and rubber bullets and put us in explorer jail. Fortunately, the only police we talked to was very friendly.

Sierra de Cazorla

Sierra de Cazorla was stop number 1 on your trek through South Spain. The largest National Park in all of Spain, this baby did not disappoint. We drove straight from our landing in Madrid (at about 10am) to Sierra de Cazorla, and had time to spare for hikes and scenic driving.

The crown jewel of Sierra de Cazorla is the Guadalquivir, the river/lake that flows through the entire park. With at least 20 scenic overlooks, and the opportunity to rent kayaks, paddle boats, stand-up paddle boards, and more, there is no excuse for not making the most of your time.

Author’s warning: do not drive a big vehicle through the park, unless you are VERY confident in your driving skills. The views are UNBELIEVABLE but there are a few hairpin turns and the road isn’t exactly what you would call…wide.

We stumbled across a watering hole on one of our hikes, and to be honest we thought we struck gold. The air temperature: over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The water temperature: cold as ice, which fit because we were ‘foreigners’… (ba dum tsch, if you got that joke, you are probably our parents, thanks for reading Mom and Dad).

The water felt ridiculously refreshing for a perfect cannonball, which of course we did. The extreme highs gave way to extreme lows when we realized that Zach’s wedding ring slipped off during his anything-but-gracious swan dive into the pool. What a moron. Literally the day before our first wedding anniversary. He has always had incomprehensibly symbolic timing.

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We made it to Spain! First stop, National Parks, duh. Sierra de Cazorla and Sierra de Segura. After hiking and swimming all day, shoveling beef jerky and oranges into our faces, we took a rest stop at this overlook where no one else was around 😈 First night we got 2 bottles of wine for a grand total of $5, and proceeded to annihilate them both, surrounded by the beautiful Spanish stars. Pretty sure the stars are different here, right? . Use code LOLGLOBETROTTING at check out for 15% off any @woodchuckusa product. ••••• #travelspain #eurotrip #woodchuckusa #buyoneplantone #sierradecazorla . • • • • • #visitspain #spain_vacations #topspainphoto #andalucia #ig_spain_ #hikelife #ontopofamountain #takeahike #weliveelevated #roamnation #hikingtheglobe #awakethesoul #hikingaddict #hikingculture #hikingram #europestyle_ #spaintravel

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Every hike we did in Sierra de Cazorla was pretty intense. Mostly because we went in August and the heat made it feel like we were hiking on the Sun. Any other time of year the hikes would be moderate-to-easy.

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Sierra Nevada – Los Cahorros

Sierra Nevada is located right outside Granada. 30 minutes driving to go from a wonderful tourist town to a heavenly hiking haven. While smaller than Sierra de Cazorla, Sierra Nevada holds its own in the rankings of National Parks in South Spain. Our favorite hike was Los Cahorros, in the beautiful town of Monachil.

Los Cahorros starts as a quiet hike alongside a river just outside of town. After 20 minutes, the hike quickly changes from quiet to loud. We’re talking cliffside waterfalls. We’re talking daredevil mountain climbing if you’ve got the stomach for it. We’re talking rope bridges across canyons (don’t worry, they’re safe).

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Let us tell you about this little town in Spain. Monachil is just outside of Granada in the middle of the mountains. It has a communal garden in the center for people to pick their own daily fresh veggies and if you look up you’ll find fresh fruit in all the trees. At night the stars are bright and you can see the Alhambra lite up in the distance. We spent our day hiking Los Cahorros, eating a ton of fresh fruit and swimming in this waterfall. When we finished we found the only open restaurant to fill our hungry bellies, drank another $2 bottle of wine (see a trend yet) and stargazed from this free campsite until we couldn’t keep our eyes open. Where are the brightest stars you’ve ever seen? We want to know so we can add it to our bucket list.

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One of the best parts about hiking Los Cahorros is the finish line. Monachil is a wonderful small Spanish town at the base of the hike. It literally has a garden in the center of town where locals can pick their own vegetables. Have you ever seen that before? We hadn’t.

We had a fantastic dinner, followed by a sunset walk all around town. The dogs were  out, Julie petted every one. The $2 wine bottles were out, Julie drank every one. The gelato bars were open, Julie visited every one. Let’s just say Monachil’s economy was heavily supported by our stay. Check it out, you will love your stay here.

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Sierra de Tejeda – Rio Verde

Sierra de Tejeda was the final stop on our tour of National Parks in  South Spain. It did not disappoint. We did our own research on the best hikes in Sierra de Tejeda, and consistently Rio Verde was at the top of everyone’s list. If you’re going to do one hike, this is it.

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The hike to Rio Verde only involved Julie peeing on the trail 3 times, Zach falling twice, and us stumbling across a naked Spanish man swimming once! Not too shabby 🤗 And at the bottom was a BEAUTIFUL swimming hole, crystal clear waters, and a picnic for two! Made for an epic day in the 100 degree heat! . ••••• #visitspain #topspainphoto #rioverde #hiddengem #travelcouple . • • • • • #creativetravelcouples #globecouples #globetrottingcouples #goadventuretogether #mydreamhoneymoon #travelcouplelife #travelcouples #travellingcouple #visitspain #spain_vacarions #topspainphoto #spainpassion #ig_spain_ #andalucia #hikingtheglobe #roamnation #mountainstones #mountainsphoto #awakethesoul #outdoortones

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Rio Verde is different than most hikes. You start by hiking down to the river, and end with a hike back up to your car. The reason to do this hike is the jewel at the bottom: the Rio Verde swimming hole. The water is crystal clear, you could see the bottom even if it was 100 feet deep (it is only 10 feet deep, don’t bring your scuba gear…).

If you don’t bring your swimsuit on this hike, then you screwed up. Unless you are the Spanish guy that we saw swimming naked down stream. Not exactly the swimming hole we wanted to see, but ‘when in Rome’ I guess…

Best way to do Rio Verde: plan a picnic and spend 2 hours at the bottom relaxing in the waters and taking in the Spanish countryside. Wait until the hottest part of the day has passed before your hike back to the car.

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We Love National Parks in South Spain

And so will you! Don’t get us wrong, the cities in South Spain are fantastic. We LOVE Granada and Seville. But we have a special spot in our heart for hiking National Parks around the world. South Spain with be tough to beat.

 

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