Having ridden Andalucia for more than a month, I’ve discovered it’s got so many incredible off-road routes, mountain trails, and stunning national parks it’s a natural dirt bike paradise. But, as my bike is currently undergoing an open engine surgery, I’ve had to get creative and see what Andalucia has to offer off-bike.
As luck would have it, I’d holed up in a small village just outside of Malaga, and out here, there’s no shortage of hiking trails. But nothing could have prepared me for a four-mile hike along the Gaitanes Gorge, a canyon carved by Guadalhorce River: Caminito del Rey, an old canyon trail, is a network of footbridges and boardwalks clinging to the sheer cliff walls.
Constructed in the early 20th century as a means to connect the local villages and build the El Chorro dam, Caminito del Rey (The Path of the King) had become a tourist attraction: a new trail was slowly built over the old one with safer railings and boardwalks, and now, it’s frequently visited by locals and foreigners alike.
Starting as a narrow cliff path, Caminito del Rey hugs a canyon wall as it climbs ever higher, revealing vertigo-inducing views of the canyon and the roaring river below. At times, the trail descends into a valley, then runs along the edge of a canyon again, finally crossing the canyon along a narrow suspended footbridge – definitely not for the faint of heart, as the bridge sways and hums gently with nothing but a wire netting beneath your feet – and finally, ends near a small mountain town of Ardales.
If you find yourself in Southern Spain with time to spare and looking for something completely different than a day at the beach, check out the Caminito del Rey hike – it’s best to book tickets online, but other than that, you simply leave your bike in the parking lot, hike the trail, and catch a shuttle bus back. Caminito del Rey is one of the most surprising hidden gems in Andalucia I’ve found, and I’ll keep looking for more until the bike is runing again.