Los Escullos to Cerro Penones (488m) via Los Albaricoques - Discovering a New Hiking Loop in Cabo de Gata

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Friday, 6 February 2015

Los Escullos to Cerro Penones (488m) via Los Albaricoques - Discovering a New Hiking Loop in Cabo de Gata

Cerro Penones looking over Caldera Majada Redonda
After the loop to San Jose that we'd completed last weekend, the only other long loop directly from our campsite (according to our map) was a 22km route that we were waiting for good weather to try. The loop we had planned out, heading north from Los Escullos, past the entrance to the Caldera de Majada Redonda to the village of Los Albaricoques before turning west and looping back over the summit of Cerro Penones (488m), promised to be a moderately hard hike. But with a clear blue sky above today we expected some amazing views. As it turned out, we weren't disappointed.

Entrance to Caldera de Majada Redonda
Entrance to Caldera
With the gale force winds subsiding yesterday, but slightly cooler weather forecast over the weekend, we decided that today was the ideal opportunity to get out and try this new hiking route in the Cabo de Gata natural park.

We set off shortly after the sun reached our mobile home, setting out on the opening portion of the trail soon after 9am beneath a cloudless sky. We followed the road to Presillas Bajas before joining the Sendero Majada Redonda heading north to pass the opening of the Caldera de Majada Redonda, that we had visited before. We did face a chilly headwind at first, but nothing compared to the strong blasts we'd endured the previous few days and we passed quickly over the flat and gravelly trail, weaving along the course of an old water flow among the agave and aloes filling the valley. It was an idyllic setting in the crisp morning.

On route to Los Albaricoques
On route to Los Albaricoques
Apart from one encounter with a farmyard full of barking dogs (fortunately all but one was tied up) the rest of the hike to Los Albaricoques was very peaceful. As we rounded a final bend to spy the small village a few hundred metres ahead we saw the clear panorama of the snow topped Sierra Nevada filling our horizon. It was a beautiful sight, but created a startling juxtaposition between the majestic peaks and the dirty growing tents crowding in the near view around Los Alboricoques, which was otherwise a pleasant white washed Spanish village.

Distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada from Los Albaricoques
Distant peaks of the Sierra Nevada from Los Albaricoques

According to an info board we saw, this small village has played a big role in the film industry that has produced countless westerns in this part of the world.

Yeeha!
Pausing in a village car park to enjoy a late breakfast, we soon continued on, turning west to pick up the dirt track that cut cross country towards Rodalquilar. After a few more noisy, but confined, guard dogs had startled us we were happy to be leaving the growing tents behind and back into the wilderness. The going remained easy as we followed the dirt road, although it wasn't the most picturesque setting and we decided to ignore the turn off towards El Cotijo Los Frailes which would have extended the walk slightly choosing instead to push straight to the junction which would see us heading back into the hills.

The path began to climb slightly past the low summit of Cerro de la Cruz (320m) on our left and we soon reached the start of the trail we were looking for, the signposted Barranco de Requena on our right. Shortly after joining this trail we passed a farmstead entirely full of sheep, lambs, goats and kids, their bleating and distinctive aroma filling the air. But they were wonderfully cute as well!

Ascending the Barranco de Requena towards Cerro Penones
Ascending the Barranco de Requena towards Cerro Penones
Pushing on, the rocky path soon climbed, steeply in places, but the route was surrounded by lush green vegetation with cacti and other shrubs crowding the trail. Looking back, the contours of the valley framed the far reaching view right over to the Sierra Almahillas in the distance. It was very beautiful.

As our summit slipped into sight we made out the distinctive 'golf ball' radar station on the summit of Cerro Penones. Stepping off the rocky trail onto the access road we completed the final few dozen metres of ascent to be presented with a majestic panorama and a spectacular view over the Caldera.

Looking down into the Caldera de Majada Redonda from Cerro Penones (488m)
Looking down into the Caldera de Majada Redonda from Cerro Penones (488m)
Laid out before us was the Mediterranean sea sparkling in the early afternoon sun, hundreds of kilometres of beaches and bays on the Spanish coastline stretching into the distance in both directions, the sprawling mass of Almeria at the foothills of the Alpujarras, the magnificent snow-topped Sierra Nevada and the rolling hills of the Sierra Almahillas. We just sat and stared for almost the next hour, hardly able to believe our luck that the air was so still and calm allowing us to bask in the warmth of the February sun. The only slight stain on the otherwise naturally beautiful view was the prevalence of growing tents shining on the flattened plain below, which stirs mixed emotions in both of us.

Descending from Cerro Penones the views over the mines at Rodalquilar and the beaches at Las Negras
Descending from Cerro Penones the views over the mines at Rodalquilar and the beaches at Las Negras
Eventually we tore ourselves away and made our way back towards the coastline at La Isleta del Moro. As we descended the Barranco del Paraiso the distant features of the coastline between La Isleta and Los Escullos resolved themselves and we felt comforted by that increasingly familiar sight, which is starting to feel very much like home to us. However, it never looks any less impressive no matter how many times we see it.

Looking down over the beaches and bays at Los Escullos
Looking down over the beaches and bays at Los Escullos
During the final few kilometres of our hike, along the road initially to the Playa del Arco at Los Escullos before following the Rambla del Pozo de Frailes back to the camping, we both agreed that we felt much refreshed by our long day out. It never ceases to amaze us just how energising and invigorating a day on the trail can be, especially beneath a warm sun.

Walk Information:
Motorhome Base - Camping Los Escullos
Start/ End Point: Camping Los Escullos - Los Albaricoques - Camping Los Escullos
Total Distance: approx 23km
Time Taken: 6 hours
Level: Moderate
Map: Editorial Alpina: Cabo de Gata Nijar 1:50.000

Related Posts:
10 Reasons to Visit the Cabo de Gata -Nijar Natural Park - Andalucia, Spain
12 Places to Visit and Things To Do in Cabo de Gata Natural Park
10 Hiking and Walking Routes in the Cabo de Gata - Nijar Natural Park



Cerro Penones looking over Caldera Majada Redonda

Cerro Penones

Cabo de Gata wildlife

Cerro Penones looking over towards Sierra Alhamillas and Almeria

Ascending the Barranco de Requena towards Cerro Penones

Mines at Rodalquilar


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