Active tourism

Active tourism

Hiking & Trekking

If you really wish to get to know our province inside out, you must experience its hiking trails at a slow but steady pace.  

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GR 48 jaen Etapa 1 a_pq

Trail GR 48 in Sierra Morena is a long-distance trail that crosses this mountain range from west to east. The 590-km. (366 mi.) is fully signposted and conditioned for travellers. The route starts in the Portuguese town of Barrancos, on the border between Portugal and Andalucía. It runs through the provinces of Huelva, Sevilla, Córdoba and, finally, Jaén, where it ends in the municipal district of Santa Elena, at the door of the Natural Park of Despeñaperros.

The whole track is segmented into 28 stages and a circular detour in the province of Seville. Each of these stages can be covered on a single day, starting and ending in towns or villages where visitors may find places to eat and sleep, such as the area of the Sanctuary-Basilica of Our Lady of the Cabeza, in Sierra de Andújar.

The track GR48 in the province of Jaén is divided into 5 stages. Some of the longest and most popular ot these stages are found in Sierra Morena.

The GR48 in the province of Jaén is characterized by a wide variety of landscapes. We will find typical Mediterranean cattle-raising meadows and woodland in Sierra Morena alternating with areas featuring extreme height differences in Sierra de Andújar and in the outer slopes of Despeñaperros, where gorges, gullies and mid-range heights combine to create landscapes typical of high elevations.

The Sierra Morena part of the trail, divided into 5 stages, from Marmolejo to the town centre of Santa Elena, after crossing important milestones in the Sierra: the sanctuary of Our Lady de la Cabeza, the great historical heritage buildings of Baños de la Encina and the mining countryside near La Carolina. The landscape changes constantly, Mediterranean meadow lands gradually giving way to rougher and more spectacular landscapes. The autumn and the spring are the best seasons to admire the changing colours and hues of trees and vegetation.

The trail crosses few large towns, particularly inside the Sierra. In fact, it is precisely this lack of urban settlements that has permitted to preserve such an exceptional unspoiled countryside, so much so that visitors will be able to watch many different species of birds and mammals practically anywhere on the GR 48 trail.

The area's great biodiversity is an excellent opportunity to see unique endemic animal and plant species. We must remember that the area of Sierra de Andújar is one the very last havens of the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus), the Cinereous Vulture (Aegypius monachus) or the Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). Needless to day, the whole territory is one of the most important hunting destinations in the whole of Spain. It is quite easy to sight deers, fallow deers, boars... The large Mediterranean meadow lands with fighting-bull herds constitute yet another attraction in the area, particularly in the northeastern section of the trail in jaén, between the Natural Parks of Sierra de Andújar and of Despeñaperros.

Besides these species, enthusiasts of reptiles and amphibians will see a large community of representative specimens all along the GR 48 trail, some of them endemic of Spain, such as the Iberian painted frog (Discoglossus galganoi), Bosca's newt (Lissotriton boscai) and the Iberian Midwife Toad (Alytes cisternasii).

The vegeation we will find on our way is the typical Mediterranean wood- and scrub-land, with a predominance of holm oak (Quercus ilex) woods, rockroses (Cystus), mastics (Pistacia lentiscus) and wild olive trees (Olea europaea). All of this is rounded off by samples of the conifer reforestations of the 20th century. These pine woods are found mainly in the area of Sierra de Andújar and in the proximity of Santa Elena, in Despeñaperros. On the banks of the streams and rivers next to the GR 48 trail we will also find riparian woods, such as the one on the upper Los Santos stream, on the middle section of the river Jándula or in the last stretch of river Campana.

Before starting on our GR 48 trip, we must bear in mind that each stage is a long stretch, particularly suited for full one-day journeys. Travellers will be able to buy provisions at each depature and finish point. However, in the longest stretches particularly, it is advisable to carry a sufficient supply of water for Sierra Morena is a typically dry territory and drinking springs are scarce. Besides, one should also reckon with the season of the year. Summers in Sierra Morena are usually hot and peak temperatures are reached in midsummer. Travellers must plan their timetables very carefully if they embark on a journey in July and August, alternating walking and resting periods.

Apart from the sheer pleasure to the senses while walking the trail, each stage will take us to interesting spots showing the rich heritage and imprint that a succession of civilizations has left in our province. Along the trail we will find convincing reasons for taking one or two detours and having a closer look at the history and art of the regions: from ancient archaeological sites and rock paintings, through the fabulous medieval heritage of Baños de la Encina and the field near Santa Elena where the 'Battle of the Navas de Tolosa' took place in 1212 (a turning point in the Spanish 'Reconquista' or 'Reconquest' of the Muslim territories), to our more recent past, such as the beautiful 18th century urban designs of the so-called 'New Settlements', 'Nuevas Poblaciones' in Spanish, and the mining architectural remains in the neighbouring countryside.

For more detailed and updated information on the GR 48 trail and the different itineraries and stages, visit the trail's website at:

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