Walking the Via Verde de la Sierra (eastern half)

Family edition: two adults, one toddler, one dog

Description

Packing List

First hike: Estación de Navalagrulla – Colada de Morón (roundtrip) 

Second hike: Poblado de Zaframagón to Estación de Zaframagón (roundtrip)


Description

Vía Verdes are old rail sections in Spain that have been converted into public paths, creating easy access to the countryside byway of hiking, horse back riding, and cycling. For a scenic local option in Andalucia, consider visiting the Vía Verde de la Sierra. Located between Puerto Serrano and Olvera, this 38 km (~24 miles) trail is made up of open road, old train tunnels, and four viaducts.

Leashed dogs allowed on the Via Verde.jpg

Leashed dogs are allowed.

When you’re not into cycling (or you’d just rather not leave the dog behind) walking the vía verde in small chunks is a doable alternative to completing the whole thing at once. Additionally, if any of your family members will be in wheel chairs or strollers, they can take part too.

Find a nicely detailed description of the Vía Verde de la Sierra here at the official site. Keep in mind this is for the entire 34 km going west to east.


Packing list for walking Vía Verde with a stroller and dog

Copy and paste this list into your phone or doc so you can check things off  and come prepared (we didn’t have a list and forgot the cooling towel 😥 )

Definitely bring:

____ (min.) 1 liter of water per adult: ____ ____ ____ ____

____ water dish for dog

____ water bottle or milk for child

____ reflective gear for stroller

____ reflective gear for dog harness/collar/leash

____ reflective gear for adults

____ 1 flash light or head lamp per adult ____  ____ ____ ____

____ sunscreen

____ map or GPS

Optional:

____ hat(s) ____ ____ ____ ____

____ battery powered fan

____ cooling towel

____ snacks for child_______________________________________

____ snacks for adults ______________________________________

____ diaper clutch or diaperbag

Walking Estación de NavalagrullaColada de Morón

Length: 10 k round trip (~6 miles)

Time: 3 hours recommended (2 hours for us)

Number of tunnels: 6

Number of viaducts: 0

Amount of shade from tunnels: 2.3 km round trip (~ 1.4 miles)

On our first walk at the beginning of September 2018, our AirBnB host advised that the Olvera access at the far east end was still closed due to winter flooding, so instead we drove to the Estación de Navalagrulla and walked to Colada de Morón and back, total 10 km.

Our return trip_LI (3)
Starting and turn around points

Both access points have parking areas, so you can choose to start at either.  Colada de Morón arguably has a better vista to begin and end with, while Estación de Navalagrulla has tables and more shade if you want to picnic afterwards. Click to see their locations on a map: Estación de Navalagrulla or Colada de Morón.

Driving there:

To park at Estación de Navalagrulla, take A-384 until La Muera exit onto CA-9101. You’ll start to see signs for the vía verde.

Muela turn

A-384 headed west from Olvera

Follow CA-9101 for about 3 km and exit straight at this road. Immediately take the right before the hill with the house (there will be a small brown vía verde sign):

Turn for 1st walk_LI
See that brown vía verde sign on the right? That’s your turn just past it.

After turning, follow the road to this old station to find parking:

Navalagrulla Station
Picnic tables are between the two buildings, no restrooms

The walk:

It was hot at the beginning of September so we left in the morning and finished by noon.

Battery operated fan
Battery operated fan attached to stroller for extra cooling

Keeping our dog’s limitations in mind, we wanted the walk to be 2 hours or less…perfect length for a nap for the toddler (who almost slept, but then decided to stay awake to shout echoy things into the six tunnels we passed through).

tunnel
Tunnel up ahead = shade soon
Tunnel Dehesa Nueva 165m
The tunnels are labeled with length and distance to the next one.

Of these six tunnels, only one short one wasn’t lit. We did get passed a couple times in the tunnels by cyclists, so it was good to have the reflective gear on.

Reflective gear on stroller
Inside the tunnels: “Blah blah blah!”

The road was relatively empty this morning. We saw several cyclists, one jogger, and one moped sneak onto the road for a stretch. Olive and goat farmers were busy with regular upkeep on either side of the road.

goats.jpg
Hello, goats near Estación de Navalagrulla
Water breaks
Take those water breaks

rare bit of shade
Rare bit of shade on this stretch near Colada de Morón
Vista near the end
Beautiful open view near Colada de Morón
homestretch
Nearing Estación de Navalagrulla and finishing up

The end of walk 1.


Walking Poblado de Zaframagón area to Estación de Zaframagón

Length: 4.4 km round trip (~2.7 miles)

Time: 1 hour

Number of tunnels: 0

Number of viaducts: 1

Amount of shade from tunnels: 0

We gave our dog a break on the second morning and chose a shorter walk, but what was lacking in distance made up for in dramatic views alongside the Reserva Natural del Peñón de Zaframagón.

Map_LI
Starting point near Poblado de Zaframagón and turn around at Estación de Zaframagón

Getting to the parking area was tricky. The road on the map provided by the Vía Verde foundation isn’t labeled on Google, so our AirBnB host drove me the evening before and even took me to a large parking area outside of the nearly abandoned village of Poblado to view the big behemoth of a rock that’s visible from Carretera de Antequera (details below on how to get there, but sorry, no pictures!).

The directions start off the same as with the first walk. Take A-384 until La Muera exit onto CA-9101. You should start to see signs for the vía verde here:

Muela turn
A-384 headed west from Olvera

Follow CA-9101 for about 3 km and exit straight at this point. Ignore the small brown vía verde sign telling you to go right. Continue straight instead:

Turn for 1st walk_LI (2)

Follow this road for about 4 km on twisty, turny, gravel surface until you reach your destination. Along the way, you’ll go through this single lane underpass:

Drive through tunnel

and eventually reach this fork in the road. Go right:

Take right at the fork_LI (3)
(If you choose the left road, eventually you’ll make it to Poblado and its narrow streets and a parking lot behind the school to view that massive rock just peeking over the horizon in this picture. You’d know that rock from the road.)

There’s a brown vía verde sign to guide you right. Continue on this road for more pastureland and olive groves, with maybe even some sightings of goats and Brava cattle:

Almost there
Take the turns carefully; it’s easy to drift.

You’ll reach the end of the road exactly where the trail begins, next to a farm. Drive up the slope to park here:

Park ehre

The walk:

We went towards the Interpretation Center and cantina at Estación de Zaframagón:

Go towards cantina_LI

Note: do not go the opposite direction towards the tunnel unless you want to go to the Estación de Navalagrulla where we were the day before. This tunnel is almost 700 m one way.* That’s a lot of time to spend underground if you have a limited schedule and want views on your walk:

Going towards the Estación de Zaframagón we enjoyed more greenery and wildlife than on our first walk. Griffon vultures are a key attraction at this nature reserve.

at the start

This part of the vía verde traverses the Peñón de Zaframagón Nature Reserve with its beautiful craggy drops, an abandoned flour mill, and a large colony of vultures circling over the grounds. We only shared the route with one cyclist and a work truck this morning.

more greenery

Be prepared for a gorgeous site when you reach the viaduct. To your left will be the Peñón de (the rock of) Zaframagón. A massive limestone formation with a small split down its middle, the water flows below and past it to the frame of an old flour mill further past the viaduct. It makes an idyllic rest point…

aquaduct

On the viaduct

gorge cody

View of the Peñón from the viaduct

ruins of the mill

Old flour mill below the viaduct.

…but, not far after that is the cantina, which offers some shade and restrooms. The cantina had beers and hamburgers advertised, but wasn’t open when we arrived. 150 meters past the cantina is the Interpretation Center, which, if it were open, would have had lenses to zoom in on and spy on the vultures’ nests in the mountain. But, even though it was closed, there was signage outside explaining the reserve, potable water, and shady picnic tables for a water break, so we were content.

vulture.jpg

Enjoy the vulture art across from the Interpretation Center

water break

And keep hydrated!

From here, we turned around and headed back to our car. This gave us more views of the Peñón.

headed back

Viaduct in front of us, Peñón on the right, vultures overhead.

Altogether with water breaks our walk lasted an hour. You could easily extend the trip by at least a kilometer without reaching any tunnels past the station, but like I said, we didn’t want to wear out the dog too much this day.


Notes: We walked these routes at the end of summer when things were drying up. The landscape was still impactful but we plan to come back and hike at least two other sections in the springtime. When we drove through the area in May for our Iznajar weekend, the region was bright green and carpeted with wild flowers, so we know we’ll have even more beauty right after the rainy season:

20180513_131322
(Same region in May)

*If you want to see an in depth itinerary of the route from Estación de Navalagrulla to  Estación de Zaframagón, check out this blog with lots of helpful info and pictures. (Open in Chrome and use the translate text option to read in the language of your choice.)

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