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Hike: Refugio de Juanar to the Cruz de Juanar

From the Cross of Juanar, one of the many peaks of Sierra Blanca, look down at the Mediterranean coastline and remember why so many people have settled in this part of the world. This is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. And the best part is that you don’t need to travel too far.

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By:  Cecilia Bogaard
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Mountain hike
Location: between Ojen and Istan (Malaga)
Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: easy
Practical Advice: comfortable shoes, water, and something warm for when you reach the top
Stands out for: incredible views
Did you know? part of the Biosphere Reserve of Sierra de las Nieves

It’s hard to believe a place like this exists so near the coast. Juanar is the perfect spot to walk on the weekends with your family and relax. But if you are looking for solitude, its probably best to go during the week. You can do the entire hike up to the Mirador del Macho Montés (popularly known as the Cross of Juanar) in a morning or afternoon.

This is not a difficult walk. The only things you need are the desire to breath deeply and enjoy some of the best views on the Costa del Sol. News of corruption and urban planning disasters are left far behind, and they give way to a vision of the Mediterranean illuminated by the sun and surrounded by pine and olive trees. All of a sudden you’ll remember why so many people want to live here.

1. Start out from the Hotel Refugio de Juanar (952881000, You can also drive up a little further to a gate at the entrance of the hike, but often there is no space to park.

2. Once you’ve passed the gate, you’ll find yourself in a lush pine forest. The smell of the pine trees, along with that of the rosemary, will accompany you until you reach the summit. After a few hundred metres, you’ll see a crossroad which is clearly signposted. Head for Istan rather than Monda. A few metres further along you’ll see a sign for the Mirador del Macho Montés (1.3 Km). That’s where you’re heading.

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3. Suddenly the landscape opens up. The pine trees disappear to form a picture perfect backdrop, and for a while you are surrounded by olive trees 800 metres above sea level.

4. When you get to a second intersection, take the path on your right towards La Concha – Istán. You’ll pass an abandoned farmhouse. Now you should be very aware of the signage, as it gets a little sketchy. You’ll even see a little hand painted wooden sign pointing towards la Concha (which blends with the olive tree it’s hanging from). After the abandoned farmhouse take the path on the right, and at the next intersection take the path on your left.

5. The path leads down into a forest of pine trees. During the winter you’ll have to navigate a few puddles and some muddy stretches. Keep your eyes pealed. There are little wooden birdhouses hanging from the pine trees. The sound of the birds is spectacular if you pause and pay attention. When you reach a crossroad, follow the sign for La Concha on your left. As you move out of the trees the path starts to climb a steep rocky hill with prickly bushes on either side, and rosemary and sage growing all around.

6. At the top of the hill there is a little clearing. Follow the path to the left. From this point on the journey gets a little more difficult. Watch out where you step. The path gets a little more rocky, and during the winter it is a little overgrown. The ground is a quite sandy, and the rocks are harder to navigate.

7. As you continue to the top you’ll need to do a some climbing as the path gives way to steep rock faces. When you reach the top, the panorama is spectaular. The summit to your right is known as the Cross of Juanar, because of the cross which looks out over Marbella. You’ll also see a small statue of the Virgin. Some sailors brought it up there after catching sight of the mountain one foggy night, or so the story goes. These days, there is a yearly procession to visit it.

8. If you’re organized this is an ideal place to have a picnic, especially if there isn’t any wind. The alternative is to wait until you have make the return trip down retracing your steps, and have a meal at the Hotel Refugio de Juanar.


Tertulia recommends

Must see

Bar - Restaurante El Refugio del Juanar
Carretera A-5300
Ojén, Málaga

Getting there?

Take the A-355 heading towards Ojen. When you reach the Puerto de Ojen, take the MA-5300 on your left until the end of the road. You can park at the Bar - Restaurante El Refugio del Juanar or keep going a little longer until you reach a gate. In total about a 25 minute drive from Marbella.

Ruta: Cruz de Juanar at EveryTrail



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El 27 October 2011 a las 8:40 PM, Fernando Escolano dijo...

Falta decir que en este Refugio - Hotel un dia lo eligio Charles de Gaulle para escribir sus memorias , creo que se conserva la habitacion como el la dejo, a mi me impresiono.

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El 10 December 2011 a las 3:54 PM, Fabricio dijo...

It is a hidden gem in Costa del Sol unknown by most Malaguenios. And I agree the best time to enjoy it is during weekdays.

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El 4 June 2012 a las 3:51 PM, Guy Hunter-Watts dijo...

This is indeed a lovely walk Cecilia.
You can make it even better by taking a different route up to the Cruz de Juanar via the Mirador del Macho Montés, then returning back to the abandoned farm by following your walk in reverse.
This toute is decsribed in my new guide Coastal Walks in Andalucía which list 43 great trails close to the Atlantic and Medierranean seaboards.
If anyone would like more info please drop me a line via my website above.

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