The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge
The Atalaya Trail

The Atalaya Trail

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge

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The Atalaya Trail Circuit through the Poqueira Gorge

If you're looking for a good hike you and the family will enjoy, this is it! The Atalaya trail is a 3.5-hour hike that will take you through the Poqueira Gorge, past bridges, streams, waterfalls, and the three ancient Berber villages of Capileira, Bubion, and Pampaneira.

You can either go one way, which is about 3.5 hours or do the full loop which will add another 1.5 hours... depending on your speed.

Where to Start

Although you can start the hike in any of the three villages, we recommend starting in Capileira, the village at the top of the Poqueira Gorge. From there you can easily hike down into the Gorge, cross the river, and meander peacefully down to the bottom of the Gorge at Pampaniera. The one-way hike will be going downhill for most of the way.

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - View of Capileira The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - Capileira Goats
** (1-2) Capileira from the Atalaya Trail and Capileira Goats.

Where to Find the Atalaya Trail in Capileira

There are so many different trails heading out of each of these villages so you want to make sure you find the right one. In Capileira, the Atalaya trail starts towards the bottom of town. Walk through the old town and down towards the countryside. We have marked the exact location on a map for you here.

Watch out for the farmers heading out with their flocks of goats and sheep!

Atalaya Trail ➜ Descend into the Gorge

The first part of the trail goes down into the Gorge. Keep descending until you reach a bridge where you will cross over the river. From there you will have an ascension of about 15 minutes. If you only do the one-way hike this will be the most difficult part.

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - Bridge in Capileira
** (1-2) The Atalaya Trail and First Bridge in Capileira

Atalaya Trail ➜ Travel Along the Gorge

Now it gets easier, follow the path along the Gorge. The path is well marked and you will find guideposts to lead the way. This part of the hike meanders through forests, over streams and small bridges, and has remarkable views of the Poquiera Gorge villages along the cliffs. The route is shaded in some areas but in full sun for part of the way.

During the spring this area is in full bloom with bright yellow scotch-broom and red poppies. Their fragrance floats gently on the warm breezes that slide through the valley.

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge
The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge
**Atalaya Trail - Bridges and Pampaneira in the Distance

Atalaya Trail ➜ Descend into Pampaneira

Now you are reaching the end of the one-way hike. The descent into Pampaneira is beautiful and where you will find the big waterfall. Be careful here as the trail is steep and rocky.

After a short break and a refreshing dip in the river, head into the village of Pampaniera. From the waterfall, it will take you about 20-minutes to reach the town.

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - Bubion Views The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - Pampaneira Waterfall
** (1-2) The Atalaya Trail - Bubion Views & Waterfall

Atalaya Trail - Pampaneira ➜ Bubion

For those wanting to continue and hike the full loop, you will continue through the village of Pampaniera. Explore the town a bit and then start heading up to the highest part of the village. We have marked the Atalaya trail here.

The section between Pampaneira and Bubion is very steep and will take about an hour. The trail is well marked and the views are gorgeous.

Atalaya Trail - Bubion ➜ Capileira

Almost done! Bubion is just a small village, but beautiful and also worth a look around. To continue to Capileira cross through the village and keep heading north. The trail starts again just after Bubion's main plaza.

This part of the hike can be a bit tricky. It's shorter and not as steep as the previous section, but the trail is not as well marked. There is one part where the trail continues straight and also turns up to the right, it's not marked but you want to go to the right. Hiking from Bubion to Capileira will take you about 40-minutes.

The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - To Bubion The Atalaya Trail - Poqueira Gorge - To Capileira
** (1-2) The Atalaya Trail - To Bubion & To Capileira

When to Hike the Atalaya Trail

The Poqueira Gorge area is very cold and snowy during the winter months so the best time to hike is in the spring and fall. The months of May and June are ideal as the entire gorge is in full bloom with bright yellow scotch-broom and red poppies.

  • During May and October, you are most likely to experience good weather with pleasant average temperatures that fall between 20 degrees Celsius (68°F) and 25 degrees Celsius (77°F).
  • The hottest season is in June, July, August, and September.
  • Pampaneira has dry periods in June, July, August, and September.
  • The warmest month is July with an average maximum temperature of 33°C (91°F).
  • The coldest month is January with an average maximum temperature of 12°C (53°F).
  • November is the wettest month.
  • July is the driest month.

Where to Stay

You can easily stay in any of the three villages and access the Atalaya trail since it does a loop through the entire gorge. We recommend staying in the villages of Capileira (first choice) and Pampaniera (second choice) because they have a larger selection of hotels and cottage rentals. Capileira is the largest with the largest number of accommodations and where we suggest you start the hike since you will be going downhill.

The hotels we recommend are:

How to Arrive & Parking

You will find more information on how to arrive and parking on the individual village pages ➜ Capileira, Bubion, and Pampaneira.

photo of Darsey and Izzy

Who are we? An American expat with over 20 years of experience living and traveling in Spain, specifically in Malaga and Granada. Darsey is a seasoned explorer of Andalucia. Drawing from decades of immersive experience, she offers deep insights into this enchanting region of Spain, including off-the-beaten path destinations, the best places to stay, and the top bucket list activities to try! More...

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