Mijas Pueblo occupies an impressive location on one of the many hills of the Sierra de Mijas, standing amid a landscape of pine groves and offering stunning views of the Costa del Sol.
Its winding streets, charming nooks and crannies, flower-decked houses and tiny squares all contribute to Mijas’ popularity with thousands of annual visitors.
The village is one of the most-visited destinations on the Costa del Sol. What is less well known is the surrounding countryside, the Sierra de Mijas: the Mijas mountains.
They are located in the inner part of the Cordillera Bética and divided into two sections: the Complejo alpujárride and the Complejo maláguide. A valuable mining area, the mountains are mostly comprised of marble and limestone.
The Sierra de Mijas offers the wealth of its flora, fauna, and landscapes, all within a short distance from the coast. It’s sharp geological characteristics, with peaks over 1000m, most facing different orientations, has produced some really varied microclimates.
The heavy, almost tropical-like vegetation on the northern valleys (particularly around Alhaurin de la Torre) contrast with the extremely dry and almost desert-like slopes just above Mijas. With such diversity, the hiking and mountain biking in this area is brilliant.
Most of the tracks are clearly labelled and easy to follow. The tourist office in Mijas provides maps of the area, with some set hikes marked on them.
A Hike up Pico de Mijas – La Bola
We are following the ‘brown’ route up the Sierra de Mijas’ highest point, the Pico de Mijas at 1,150 metres. This mountain is commonly known to locals as ‘La Bola,’ the ball, named after all the antennas on the top and in particular the ball-like meteorological station.
The views are spectacular and completely 360º. On a clear winter’s day you get views across to North Africa, the whole of Malaga’s coastline, and looking northwards you have El Torcal and the mountains of Sierra de las Nieves. It’s a truly breathtaking sight and well worth the effort in getting up there.
This particular hike starts in the centre of Mijas Pueblo and is classified as moderate to hard.
The best time of year for any hiking in Andalusia is from October to April. More so here, as there is no shade or water. The terrain is tough, with lots of rocks and sand and is slippery underfoot.
Bring water, sunscreen, a fully charged mobile phone, the track below and I’d recommend wearing long trousers. Just about every plant and bush out there is sharp and wants to hurt you.
The track below begins in the centre of the village. You can park in the large public car park that costs only 1€ for the whole day or you can drive further up the mountain and park near the forestry track that leads into the higher sections.
The beginning of the route is fairly easy to miss and is just off the Mijas ring road, the Ctra. Circunvalación Mijas. See the picture above. Most of the hikes from Mijas Pueblo start here – map.
This path starts to climb very steeply upwards towards the Ermita del Calvario, a small chapel. Within a few minutes you’ll reach the chapel and start seeing the first of many signs for ‘Puerta Malaga,’ or the ‘Pico Mijas.’ Keep following these signs. Occasionally, the rocks have been spray painted with a brown marking. You should be going west and upwards.
The path will crisscross numerous others, always keep your eyes open for markings (stone ‘hitos,’ signs or spray painted markers). If unsure, keep climbing, most of these paths reunite at the top anyhow.
This particular section is hard going. It’s very steep and loose underfoot. As you gain height very quickly, stop and take in the views.
A lot of this area was devastated by a couple of large forest fires a few years ago. It’s amazing how quickly the vegetation is growing back.
As you near the top of the mountain, you’ll come to a crossroad. Follow the sign for the Pico Mijas (La Bola) leftwards. You’ll walk across a ridge and drop down to another path. The weather station at the top of La Bola should be clearly visible now. The way up is very straightforward from here.
The views are spectacular: Malaga, the mountains of Sierra de Almijara – La Maroma, Sierra Nevada, El Torcal, Sierra de las Nieves most of the Costa del Sol and on a clear day…Morocco. You can click on the two panoramic photos above to make them bigger.
Walk back down the way you came. You can walk a circular route, following the track below, or follow the same track you came up.
Details of the hike
Approximate time: 6 hours
Length: 14,5 kilometres
Minimum height: 405 metros
Maximum height: 1.150 metros
For some similar hikes in the area, see hiking up La Concha in Marbella and the hiking routes in El Torcal. For the more adventurous, you have the Axarquia’s highest mountain – La Maroma and near Nerja, hiking up the majestic El Cielo mountain.
By John Kramer