From the golden beaches of Marbella, uphill to the Town of Ojén and through pine forest of Nagüeles in the Sierra Blanca mountains, this trail continuously goes up and down, and around Concha (Shell) Peak, from which the Rock of Giblartar can be made out.
The stage starts practically at sea level, crossing Marbella in a north-westerly direction as far as the Pine forest of Nagüeles. It then runs along the southern slopes of Sierra Blanca, heading mostly north-east. As a result, it cuts across the ravines and streams carrying water from the enormous limestone mountain down to the sea. Between these are mountain passes of varying degrees of difficulty. Just over half of the route runs through the municipality of Marbella. It also follows the border between municipalities from kilometres 8.5 until 10.5, and then heads north from the Peñoncillo mines through that of Ojén.
The route has some significant inclines, especially uphill, however these tend to be shorter sections only. The majority of the route uses traditional footpaths, linking up to an intricate network of municipal trails in the Marbella area. In the final part there is only one option for walkers, with a slightly more technical section, while catching a glimpse of the A-355 road to the right.
The Sierra Blanca is a hugely important string of mountain ranges for the inhabitants of the Costa del Sol. For this reason, there are a large variety of routes that climb up to its highest peaks and return back down to sea level. The stark contrast between the urban and tourist bustle of Marbella and the solitude of these mountains may be one of this stage’s greatest assets. This can be appreciated best from the numerous peaks and mountain passes that offer panoramic views over the bay of Marbella and the Alborán Sea, with the grey crests behind you.
The start and end points could not be more different, despite being only 8 kilometres apart by road. From the cosmopolitan and exclusive Marbella, to the cosy rural atmosphere of the white village of Ojén. This area was one of the worst affected by the devastating fire in the summer of 2012, in which more than 8,000 hectares were scorched to the ground. The last part of the route follows the burnt areas to the west of the road, so you can appreciate the progress in the natural recovery of the native vegetation.
Sierra Blanca is a very special mountain system, bearing great signifi cance for the Marbella and Costa del Sol inhabitants, up to the point where it was actually a local association intent on recuperating the numerous Sierra Blanca footpaths which took care of their promotion, sign-posting and improvement or focussed on clarifying any doubts surrounding the history of places the paths lead you to, i.e. Cilniana.
The GR-249 walker can also enjoy the surroundings thanks to the work of such volunteers, their work wholeheartedly appreciated by Málaga´s local council. La Red de Senderos de Sierra Blanca, the local network of footpaths, constitutes the first incentive for the walker, offering plenty of alternatives to climb the sierra´s summits or to go back down to the sea level.
Nevertheless, the strong contrast between the urban and tourist vortex of Marbella and the solitude of these mountains could be the most important treasures of stage 31. This solitude can be admired from various vantage points and cols which afford a broad view of the bay Bahía de Marbella and the Mediterranean in general, with the grey ridges behind you.
The starting and fi nishing points couldn´t be any more different. There is a signifi cant distance between cosmopolitan, exclusive Marbella and the cosy village atmosphere of the pueblo blanco of Ojén, though physically they are no more than 8 kilometres away. Ojén was one of the scenes of, and was largely affected by, the terrifying fi re which happened in summer 2012 in which more than 8.000 hectares were burnt. The last part of the itinerary leads through the burnt areas west of the road, which lets you appreciate the natural recuperation progress of the native plant life.