Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

Bikepacking the mountains and deserts of Andalucía

Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

Bikepacking the mountains and deserts of Andalucía

Bike Touring Collection by Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

11

Tours

81:49 h

564 mi

67,650 ft

It was the popular GR247 circular hiking route that drew me to the mountains of Andalucía. It looked as though it would be a fantastic bike packing route, providing a ‘middle-of-nowhere’ attraction: a combination of dramatic limestone mountains and gorges, and the rugged lunar landscapes belonging to the plateau of Los Campos de Hernán Perea.

If I was going to be heading to Andalucía, then I wanted to visit the picturesque city of Granada as well. Not only steeped in history, but also famous for its tradition of free tapas with every drink! You can get by without needing to buy a single meal when you are in the city. Then, if was going to Granada, it would be silly not go and check out the Sierra Nevada while I was there as well! Then there was also the Badlands to consider, an arid semi-desert area filled with canyons and gullies; surely something which shouldn’t be missed!

So I pieced together a loop starting and finishing in Granada, picking out some of the best bits of the Andalucían Mountains. The route takes in the Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Baza, Sierra de Segura and Sierra de Cazorla (GR247 loop), and finishes through the Gorafe Desert (aka Badlands).

The ten days on the bike was everything I could have hoped for and more, and the GR247 completely stole my heart. Wow - it can only be described and breathtakingly beautiful. With 20% of Andalucía made up of natural or national park land, the forested mountains feel wild and untouched, and many of the villages we passed through felt like they had been frozen in time, where small scale agriculture was still the heart of their survival.

The locals were welcoming and friendly, although you should be prepared as no one speaks any English. The food is home cooked and very affordable. I particularly enjoyed stopping for one, or sometimes two, breakfasts each morning. Tostada con tomate and freshly squeezed orange juice quickly became my go-to and was never more than a couple of euros.

Southern Spain is jam packed with off-road tracks, so the majority of the route is a mix of double track, single track, gravel and footpaths, and only veering onto paved roads to connect sections. Having said this, the roads in Spain are amazing, with great quality tarmac and rarely any vehicles. I think it’s also worth mentioning that there are a few monster hike-a-bike sections dotted about too, particularly on the GR247, so the route is not for the faint hearted!

From desert cave houses to pretty Berber villages, endless olive groves to bare moonscape plateaux, dense pine forests to arid sandstone canyons. One thing that is for sure, is this bikepacking route offers you superb variety!

Do leave a comment if you have any questions about the route.

One last tip: If heavy rain is forecast then it's a good idea to swap to tarmac, as the mud in these areas can destroy your drivetrain!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • 11:50
    46.7 mi
    3.9 mph
    10,000 ft
    7,150 ft

    It was up up up straight out of Granada, and it wasn't long before we left the tarmac and were into the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    I hadn’t expected the scenery …

  • 12:17
    52.2 mi
    4.3 mph
    8,075 ft
    6,725 ft

    The highlight of today was the pretty white villages. Particularly Pampaneira, as it can be found on Spain's ‘Prettiest Villages’ list. The villages in this part of the Sierra Nevada …

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  • 12:23
    69.4 mi
    5.6 mph
    7,025 ft
    6,875 ft

    Today started on some fantastic undulating gravel roads, staying up at altitude, before we popped out onto a tarmac road to take us the last 5 kilometres up and over …

  • 11:11
    63.6 mi
    5.7 mph
    4,200 ft
    7,600 ft

    The descent off the Baza Mountains was fantastic! But once out of the mountains, the rest of the day was kind of a transition stage in the ‘flatter’ lands to get to the next section of mountains.

    There wasn't a lot of exciting things to see, but we were able to get re-stocked well in our first large town since Granada.

  • 13:05
    57.5 mi
    4.4 mph
    6,450 ft
    5,075 ft

    We rolled out of camp and were straight onto the GR247, a 309 kilometre footpath circular loop, that weaves in and through the dramatic limestone crags of the Sierras de …

  • 49.6 mi
    -- mph
    7,150 ft
    9,400 ft

    There were very different landscapes here to the previous day, riding a lot more on the edge of the mountains, yielding views out over the foothills and an immense sea …

  • 45.7 mi
    -- mph
    7,275 ft
    7,150 ft

    There was a great river swim spot first thing, but on a cold and murky morning at 7am neither of us were keen for a dip! Immediately after that, we …

  • 10:48
    44.1 mi
    4.1 mph
    5,000 ft
    5,550 ft

    This last section of the Sierra de Cazorla was probably the most beautiful of all. We climbed in the clouds and then popped out above them to see dramatic limestone …

  • 59.6 mi
    -- mph
    5,375 ft
    4,375 ft

    After a stretch of tarmac to start the day, it wasn’t long before we were able to hit the dirt roads of the desert of Los Coloraos and Gorafe (aka …

  • 03:26
    31.6 mi
    9.2 mph
    2,125 ft
    3,000 ft

    We opted for tarmac all the way back to Granada due to some time constraints on our last day. We had expected it to be a ‘head down get it …

  • Difficult
    06:49
    43.9 mi
    6.4 mph
    4,975 ft
    5,875 ft
    Expert gravel ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    If you have more time or you'd rather stay off the road, this is an alternative off-road route for day 10 back to Granada where you started.

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    11
  • Distance
    564 mi
  • Duration
    81:49 h
  • Elevation
    67,650 ft
Katie-Jane L'Herpiniere

Bikepacking the mountains and deserts of Andalucía