El Chorro is a small village located near Malaga (Andalusia) in southern Spain. It is an incredibly popular rock climbing destination, surrounded by cliffs and located next to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes (“Gorge of the Gaitanes”). The location is a climbing mecca as clear by the number of vans, campers, and colourful trousers making their way around the winding roads. It may have some of the best climbing…but this blog is going to focus on the high quality, hilly trails that surround the village. Winding their way through the hills, linking towns and taking you through some incredible scenery.
Hitting the trails;
El Chorro has some awesome hiking trails, handily mapped out with colour coded poles showing the way. Super helpful for finding your bearings when you start veering off course! After a few days of running the paths though I quickly found that taking off down unmarked paths was no bad thing and that if you have any sense of direction you can easily link up routes and the higher you go, the easier it gets to see your way home! If you’re looking for quality steady hills with a few technical trails. El Chorro is for you!
The diversity of running terrain is what really makes this an amazing place to run. From concrete road to dusty paths to technical goat tracks and mountain ridges, El Chorro really won’t disappoint those hills and thrill seekers.
Flat terrain is rare in El Chorro, with hills in every direction, making it perfect for training.
Introducing the Local Trails;
Escalera Arabe (The Arabic Staircase)
Named after the ancient stairway built pre-1500, and impressively maintained given the foot traffic, these steps offer runners a scenic and rewarding trip. Watch out for climbers overhead though!
The view is well worth the effort.
This ended up featuring in nearly all my morning runs so I had a fair few trips up and down the staircase. Coming down was incredibly good fun, though the loose rock meant you had to keep your wits about you and be ready for a few slips on the scree.
Sierra De Huma
I’m sure… like the Arabic Staircase that the summit views are amazing and take your breath away. Unfortunately, I had a very Scottish run-up to the summit with snow falling and incredibly bad visibility.
For my big hill day, I decided to take a slightly longer route. From the Olive Branch (our campsite!) I took the road around to the rear of the mountain, passing small farms, meeting friendly dogs, and taking in some great views on the way.
Once I hit the mountain visibility was poor but luckily they had painted a few route markers leading up the hill. Once these ended though it took a wee bit of exploring to find the summit stone. You will find it if you keep heading up till you hit the ridgeline at the cliff edge and follow it along.
Ridges and Cliffs;
I don’t know the official name of these… but I can’t stay away from a good ridge when hitting the trails. There are some fantastic and easily accessible ridge lines and cliffs for some sky running fun. These are exposed sections and you need to be careful of loose rocks and footing. All of these lines can be seen from the town.
The best time to hit the trails?
We visited in late January/early February to get in some good running and climbing. It was perfect temperature for running with just a slight chill in the air. This meant shorts and t-shirt for running which was even sometimes too much. Coming a bit later in the season may be advisable for those that feel the cold! Midsummer would be too hot for quality running!
I have done most of my running early morning before heading climbing. At this time nobody is out on the trails and you don’t need to worry about climbers overhead. It also means the road section (albeit super short) have no traffic.
Morning/ Evening – Bring a head torch! Pavements aren’t a thing here so it’s always best to keep yourself visible to the speedy motorists on the road sections.
–RockFax climbing guide if you are there to climb. Make sure you get the newest version as it will have the most up to date information on the crags. Ours is the current version and even that is still 10 years out of date! The new addition will be out until summer of 2018. Until then, check out StRuth Adventures (http://struthadventures.com/find-best-rock-climbing-routes-el-chorro/) for up to date route info.
–Sunscreen (for obvious reasons)
-Water/ running vest if you are going for a longer run (make sure you pack enough water)
The Olive Branch was without a doubt the friendliest, most sociable and helpful campsite/ Hostel I have ever stayed in and I would head back in a heartbeat. Don’t let “Hostel” put you off though. It’s a mix of all ages, is super well run and since Hayley and I brought our own tent it was only $9 per night including hot showers and full use of the cooking facilities. We met so many climbing buddies here making the evenings fantastic, full of games and we quickly found our “party tab” adding up! The olive branch works on a very successful honesty system for drinks snacks and beer that you can pay as you go or just all in one go at check out!
If you didn’t fancy cooking they made MASSIVE dinners (VEGAN-FRIENDLY!) that were made from locally sourced produce that was well worth it.
Fully booked? Don’t worry we also visited a really great Hostel near by called “Finca La Campana El Chorro”
Love – Live – Run and get out and hit the trails!
Thank you for reading!
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