Family edition: two adults, one toddler, one dog
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 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 😥 )
____ (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 ____ ____ ____ ____
____ map or GPS
____ hat(s) ____ ____ ____ ____
____ battery powered fan
____ cooling towel
____ snacks for child_______________________________________
____ diaper clutch or diaperbag
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.
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.
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.
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):
After turning, follow the road to this old station to find parking:
It was hot at the beginning of September so we left in the morning and finished by noon.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
and eventually reach this fork in the road. Go right:
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:
You’ll reach the end of the road exactly where the trail begins, next to a farm. Drive up the slope to park here:
We went towards the Interpretation Center and cantina at Estación de Zaframagón:
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.
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.
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…
On the viaduct
View of the Peñón from the viaduct
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.
Enjoy the vulture art across from the Interpretation Center
And keep hydrated!
From here, we turned around and headed back to our car. This gave us more views of the Peñón.
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:
*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.)