This article describes a wonderful hike we discovered just down the road from Marbella, in beautiful Casares.
Today we decided to do a hike a little closer to home. Driving through Casares, we’d often noticed a few signs on the side of the road indicating hiking routes. However, since we’d never seen these routes referenced or discussed by people on the internet, we’d always kind of assumed they weren’t interesting.
Well, we tried one today — Route (Sendero, Ruta) Cristellina (8 km, circular) — and it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable, and most spectacular, routes we’ve done around Andalucia!
From Marbella, we went to Casares via Manilva, and parked the car at the Restaurante Laura, just a few meters down from the start of the hike. We had a quick tea, and started up the path. The route basically traverses a gorgeous valley up from Casares. The first half of the route is on a partially paved road, providing access to the various houses and fincas in the valley. At about the half-way point, we arrive at a mountain pass, where one can see (I suspected) Gaucin off in the distance (maybe it was one of other pueblos in the area.) Anyway, the path then transitions from road to path, and starts its way across the high mountains on the other side of the valley, back towards Casares. The path is wide enough still at this point, to easily ride a bicycle.
At about the 7km point, the path begins the vertical drop back down to the road leading into Casares (a drop of about 300 meters in the span of a kilometer), where one turns left, walks about 700 meters back up the road to the parked car.
This route offers spectacular views from the beginning, to the very end. It’s easy walking, perfect for kids, and one of the most enjoyable hikes we’ve done. All in all, it took us about 4 hours, start to finish, including about an hour of stops.
The next time, though, I’ll probably prefer to do the route in reverse, _climbing_ those steep 300 meters, at the beginning when I’m fresh, and giving a break to my poor old knees. 🙂
Be sure to check out the following:
* [Images of the trip on Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthenderson/sets/72157594413856913/)
* [Download of Google Earth KML file, and GPS GPX Track file](http://files.dafacto.com/content/gps/Cristellina.zip)
Route elevation profile: