The ‘skyline’ of the Sierra Nevada

The ‘skyline’ of the Sierra Nevada

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On the climb up to Cortijo del Hornillo you will enjoy some spectacular views of the Sierra Nevada. The route, which leads from the Barranco de San Juan to the Cortijo del Hornillo, is one of the least known mid-mountain paths, and yet it is one of the most impressive.


By Belén Rico / Granada Hoy



The starting point of this route is the Barranco de San Juan, where the Río Genil joins the Río San Juan. It is situated in Güéjar Sierra, which can be reached from the GR-420. Once in the village, take the road that leads to Maitena. Following the road– that runs along the old tram route – and before reaching the third tunnel, there is an asphalt track on the right, which leads to the Hotel del Duque. If you continue along this track you also reach the route that leads to the Cortijo del Hornillo. However, if one continues along the old tramway, until this lane ends – where one finds the last picnic area of the route and where there is a levelled area which serves as a car park – one begins the route at the point as suggested by the mountaineers in their guidebook, which is a little longer but of greater attractiveness.

From this spot the ascent begins, from an altitude of 1180 metres at the Barranco de San Juan gorge to an altitude of 1936 metres at the Cortijo del Hornillo. From here one takes the lane called the Vereda de la Estrella. Immediately after having started the walk, you can already enjoy the natural wealth of the enclave, surrounded by ash trees, horse chestnuts, gall-oaks, holm oaks and maples. Alongside the river there are also creeping ivy and ferns in abundance. This combination is particularly spectacular due to its rich hues, especially in the autumn and spring.



After a few minutes of going along the Vereda de la Estrella, take the path on the right which takes you up to the first cortijo (farm)of this route, at half an hour’s walking distance from the turnoff, that of Hortichuela. Apart from the Cortijo del Hornillo, none of the other farms are habitable – they are ruins or used for livestock in the summer. Having reached this area, take the south-easterly track, leading up in the direction of the Barranco de San Juan until you reach a crossing. Here turnoff to the left towards to the area known as the Canteras de Serpentina. It was here that, years ago, the green-coloured stone with dark markings, that is almost as hard as marble, was quarried.



The forest track ends here, but a path that goes up towards the Loma de San Juan begins. It is a path that follows the natural dividing line of this mountain. After an hour’s walking from the Cortijo de la Hortichuela, you arrive at the spot known as Cortijo del Hoyo, at an altitude of 1664 metres.

From the Cortijo del Hoyo onwards the path levels out and is less steep. If one continues along the same path for about 40 minutes, leaving the Valle del Genil to the left, you will come out at another crossing. To reach Cortijo del Hornillo take the path on the right, which crosses an irrigation channel. From this point onwards the ascent continues through an oak wood.

Even before reaching this wood, you will be able to enjoy some exceptional views – one the greatest draws of this walk. You will see the Puntal de Vacares, the Alcazaba, the Mulhacén, Juego de Bolos and the Puntal de la Caldera emerge before your eyes, together creating a fantastic panorama. It is especially beautiful at the time of year when the peaks are snow-covered.

Walking for 40 minutes through this oak wood, called Cazoletas, you will get to the Cortijo del Hornillo, which is one of the few farms in the Sierra Nevada that is still used by the shepherds in summer.



Cortijo del Hornillo is the final goal of this route but the starting point of many other higher mountain routes. It certainly is one of the most impressive natural viewpoints of the Genil basin. Cortijo del Hornillo is the point where the silhouette of the Sierra Nevada mountains unfolds, one of the most breath-taking views of the northern face of the Alcazaba and the Mulhacén.


If you want, you can head towards any one of the summits along one of the high mountain passes. You can also descend along the Vereda de la Estrella ending up where you started the route. 




Regions: Sierra Nevada

Towns: Güéjar Sierra

Route length: 16.9 km

Estimated duration: 6 hours

Altitude on departure: 1181 metres

Maximum altitude: 1883 metres

Gradient: 750 metres

Ecosystem: Mid-level and high-level mountain

Recommended season: Spring, summer and autumn


    • Itinerary and route
    • Requires exact identification of geographical features and cardinal points
    • Effort needed
    • Over 1 hour and up to 3 hours (2+1) of effective walking
    • Severity of natural surroundings
    • Several risk factors
    • Level of difficulty for walking
    • Walk on paths with rough surface


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