The GR247, Spain

  • Distance

    190 Mi.

    (306 KM)
  • Days

    6

  • % Unpaved

    96%

  • % Singletrack

    10%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    5

  • % Rideable (time)

    96%

  • Total Ascent

    26,500'

    (8,077 M)
  • High Point

    5,800'

    (1,768 M)

Contributed By

Logan Watts - Pedaling Nowhere

Logan

Pedaling Nowhere
This 190 mile (309 KM) loop through Andalusia’s Sierras De Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park offers a nice mix of fantastically rugged riding, Spanish small town amenities, and rural Andalusian culture… all within what are arguably the most beautiful mountains south of Madrid.
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The GR247 is a designated GR footpath (Gran Recorrido) created for hikers and cyclists alike. The 190 mile (309 KM) loop weaves in and through the dramatic limestone crags of the Sierras De Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, a natural park in the eastern part of the province of Jaén, established in 1986. With an area of almost 2,100 sq KM (810 sq miles), it is the largest protected area in Spain and the second largest in Europe.

The full track, which typically takes around a week to cycle, is broken in to 21 ‘etapas’, or stages. Each is about 10-20 KM. While the main loop is mostly doubletrack, in all degrees of size and ruggedness, there are stretches of singletrack peppered throughout. In addition, there are a few alternate etapas, some of which are completely singletrack. The loop is organized in a clockwise fashion, starting from the town of Siles in the north, but the route can be ridden in any direction and the variants may be worked in for additional miles and exploration.

The terrain is at times steep and there are indeed places where pedaling a loaded bike will prove next to impossible, but most of the route is completely rideable, and quite a bit of it is decidedly superb. If you’ve been itching to visit southern Spain, and tempted by a first bikepack abroad, this could be a fine place to start. The scenery is great, the people are friendly, the food is good (and fairly affordable), and getting there isn’t too difficult. Read the details and how-to below…

  • Highlights

  • Must Know

  • Camping

  • Food/H2O

    💧

  • Trail Notes

  • 11 comfortable and convenient refugios (hiker huts) along the route make for a nice warm and dry place to sleep.
  • The majestic vistas in the Sierra De Cazorla are unmatched in southern Spain.
  • The moonscape quality of the plateau of Los Campos de Hernán Perea (stages 16 and 17).
  • Passing through quaint and historic small towns, such as Hornos de Segurra and Ponton Bajo.
  • Afternoon mid-ride cervesas and tapas.

Weather and When to go

  • Like most good mountainous places in the Northern hemisphere, the best times to ride the GR247 are in the spring and fall. The Sierra de Cazorla is one of the most rainy places in southern Spain (which doesn’t mean much), and the wettest time of year is late November through February. However, we rode it in December and saw nary a drop.
  • If it does rain, be prepared to stop. The mud here is particularly cement-like and can be a recipe for broken derailleurs.

Getting There

  • Although there are many ways of approaching and starting the GR247, the easiest is via Siles, the northern most town on route.
  • If flying in and out of Madrid, look for a Media Distancia train; at the time of this writing, the closest station accessible to Siles is Albacete, which is still along way. There are also busses that run from Albacete to Alcaraz, and possibly further. Or, you can use the Ruta de Don Quixote, GR266 and some gravel roads to get there…

Other need to know info

  • Fire is prohibited in most of the park, however, we found several small designated fire pits at various refugios.
  • Bring layers. It can get particularly cold at night in the shoulder seasons.
  • It’s not a bad idea to know, or be with someone who knows, a little Spanish; southern Spain is fairly removed, and there’s not much English spoken there.
  • There are 11 hiker huts that were built in a couple of different construction styles. Several are quite interesting with a rounded roof and block walls. Their interiors are quite nice, yet simple. Each have sleeping platforms and foldable tables, and a couple have well water pumps. Bring a sleeping pad unless you are OK with sleeping on a hard wooden platform.
  • Most small towns have hostal lodging which is usually coupled with a bar. Most range from 30-50 Euros per night for a double and include breakfast; singles are cheaper, respectively.
  • There are also a couple of campgrounds on route.
  • Wild camping is prohibited in some areas in the park, however there are a few spots which camping is allowed.
  • Although there are a couple stretches where water is tricky, most towns have a fountain (fuente) in their center (centro).
  • Several streams are scattered throughout the park; bring a filter.
  • A couple of the refugios have a well and pump.
  • Every town has a small market to purchase food supplies. If there is no market, look for a local carniceria; sometimes they are one in the same.
  • We found it quite challenging to find alcohol to work in our spirit burner stove. Most shops have an alcohol that is 97%, but it didn’t work well with the burner we were using at the time. Ultimately, we cooked on fire (when available), or ate cold sandwiches, cheeses, and sausage.
  • If you are on an ultra-tight budget, watch for panaderias, or bakeries. They usually offer the best bang for the buck.

Here is a short description of each of the trail stages taken from the Bosques Del Sure site. To find the full description, click here.

STAGE 01: Peña del Olivar Recreational Area – Segura de la Sierra

This stage of the Southern Woodlands Trail boasts a wide variety of landscapes within the low mountain areas of the natural park, where pine groves alternate with areas of Mediterranean understorey, olive groves and small villages and hamlets. In the area surrounding Siles you will find a beautiful mosaic of pine and olive groves and you will enter one of the finest Aleppo pine woods within the natural park.

STAGE 02: Segura de la Sierra – El Campillo Forest House Refuge

This short stage, which, for the most part, travels along traditional paths, and transitions from the low mountain landscapes bearing a strong human influence and the lush expanses of forest in the heights. There are three types of pine grove that displace one another as the track rises in altitude: Aleppo pine groves, black pine groves and maritime pine groves.

STAGE 03: El Campillo Forest House Refuge – Hornos de Segura

This stage joins the beautiful maritime pine groves of the slopes of El Yelmo with the historical and artistic site of Hornos de Segura, enabling us to enjoy a wonderful variety of environments, from natural woodlands to areas bearing a stronger human influence. This stage commences along the beautiful asphalted forest track that climbs to the summit of El Yelmo, subsequently abandoning the slopes of this peak.

STAGE 04: Hornos de Segura – Los Parrales Recreational Area

This stage traverses the low mountains of the interior of the natural park, amidst a landscape that is a mosaic of pine groves, small groves of holm oaks, villages and hillsides blanketed with olive woods. The route commences in the beautiful village of Hornos de Segura, declared a historical and artistic site, which affords a view of a large portion of the important territory taken in by the Southern Woodlands.

STAGE 05: Los Parrales Recreational Area – Hoya de los Trevejiles Forest House

Throughout this stage there are spectacular views of El Tranco reservoir and panoramas of the Sierras of Segura and Las Villas. The route commences close to Los Parrales Recreational Area, an excellent spot in which to contemplate the magnificent landscape formed by the reservoir and the surrounding mountains.

STAGE 06: Hoya de los Trevejiles Forest House – Fuente de los Cerezos Controlled Camping Area

This stage passes through the natural park’s lowlands, at an altitude of 550-950 metres. The terrain is steep, with extensive views along the entire itinerary. Attention should be drawn to the wealth of plant and animal life in the area. We set out from the Hoya de los Trevejiles Forest House, which, given its location, state of conservation and architecture, is one of the finest forest houses in the natural park.

STAGE 07: Fuente de los Cerezos Controlled Camping Area – La Parra Forest House Refuge

This stage traverses the isolated, rugged terrain and steep slopes of the Sierra de Las Villas. Featuring large geomorphological formations featuring the profiles that are so characteristic of this area, such as Piedra del Enjambre, Lancha del Tosero and Caballo de La Albarda, this geological landscape, known as a nappe structure, is one of the most striking areas in the natural park.

STAGE 08: La Parra Forest House Refuge – Majalserbal Refuge

The landscape we traverse in this stage features geological formations of tightly folded nappes, with limestone formations and dolomites that make very rugged, steep slopes. This area deserves its renown as one of the most spectacular stretches of the trail due to the sheer rock faces, rocky outcrops and level platforms that mark the way all along our trail.

STAGE 09: Majalserbal Refuge- La Zarza Forest House Refuge

This stage traverses a sparsely populated area that allows you to appreciate a landscape full of contrasts. From the precipitous headwaters of the Aguascebas de Gil Cobo we climb to the magnificent Lancha de la Escalera, where there are views of large section of the Sierra de las Villas, the Loma de Úbeda, the Sierra de Cazorla and even Sierra Nevada.

STAGE 10: La Zarza Forest House Refuge- La Iruela

This long stage traverses the natural park’s westernmost mountains. The itinerary passes through two very different landscapes. The eastern stretch takes in the valley formed by the headwaters of the River Guadalquivir, which flows northward. It is a very important section from an ecological point of view, flanked by massive, densely forested limestone mountains that soar to a height of over 1500 meters.

STAGE 11: Cazorla – Collado Zamora Forest House Refuge

This itinerary traverses the westernmost area of the park. It commences in the town of Cazorla, a historical and artistic site, and goes uphill, rapidly gaining height until it opens on to expansive views over the surrounding countryside and the towns of Iznatoraf, Chilluévar, Villacarrillo, Santo Tomé, Peal de Becerro and Quesada. The GR 247.3 alternative route starts near the beginning of this stage.

STAGE 12: Collado Zamora Refuge – Belerda

A long, 18-kilometre stage which descends for more than 700 metres to traverse the southernmost area of the natural park. During the first part you will experience sweeping views over the countryside in the provinces of Jaén and Granada, as well as the Sierra Mágina and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. The landscape is rugged and steep, with large rocky outcrops and limestone cliffs.

STAGE 13: Belerda – El Hornico Nature Study Centre

This stage of the Southern Woodlans Trail traverses the southernmost area of the natural park: Sierra del Pozo, to be precise. The trail winds through the mountains that served as a refuge for the last guerrillas in Jaén who fought against the dictatorship during the Spanish civil war in 1936-39.

STAGE 14: El Hornico Nature Study Centre – Fuente Acero Forest House Refuge

Most of this long stage traverses Sierra del Pozo, with the river Guadalentín running through its centre. It links El Hornico and Fuente Acero, with a gradient of just over 500 metres in between. This provides an opportunity to discover very diverse landscapes, from the temperate pasture lands near the stage’s starting point to the purely mountain environments at the end.

STAGE 15: Fuente Acero Forest House Refuge – Rambla Seca Refuge

This short stage in the southwestern part of the park traverses areas of great ecological importance. In fact, the Navahondona-Guadahornillos Reserve is always on the left side of the trail. It runs through the park at a considerable altitude of 1500-1600 meters, along a forest track over nearly flat terrain.

STAGE 16: Rambla Seca Refuge – Campo del Espino Refuge

This stage of the Southern Woodlands Trail traverses one of the most grandiose and authentic locations in the natural park: the plateau known as Los Campos de Hernán Perea. The terrain is almost level, yet full of dolines and chasms that are so characteristic of a karstic landscape, and flanked by the park’s highest peaks, such as Empanadas, Puerto Lézar and El Banderillas.

STAGE 17: Campo del Espino Refuge – Pontones

This is one of the stages that traverses the breathtaking plateau of Los Campos de Hernán Perea, at an average altitude of 1600m. Historically, this vast territory was deforested to clear pastures for Segura sheep. The sweeping views are stunning, surrounded by tall mountains, such as Calar de las Palomas on the right and Pinar del Risco on the left. In winter, the area may be covered in snow.

STAGE 18: Pontones – La Toba

Beyond doubt this is one of the stages that boasts the greatest contrasts of the entire Southern Woodlands Trail. It is the third and last trail that traverses the stark livestock farmlands of the extensive municipal area of Santiago-Pontones and ends by plunging down to the Segura river valley, where there is plenty of water and the scenery is forest again.

STAGE 19: La Toba – Prado Maguillo (El Bodegón Forest House Refuge)

This stage is short but intensive owing to the number and variety of its attractions, which fully compensate hikers’ efforts. Traversing this route we enjoy broad views overlooking the highest peaks, immense forests of black pines and small hamlets with white houses, hidden in the mountains, that are the true pillars of traditional life in Andalusia’s alpine mountains and still inhabited, such as La Toba.

STAGE 20: Prado Maguillo (El Bodegón Forest House Refuge) – Era del Fustal Refuge

This stage traverses the northeastern area of the park and most of it runs through woodlands where the predominant black pines are of the sort that grow in the flattened limestone mountains, known as calares, that are so frequently found in the northern area of the natural park. The stage starts in Los Anchos, one of the most picturesque valleys in the park.

STAGE 21: Era del Fustal Refuge – Peña del Olivar Recreational Area

Along this stage we enter one of the most singular nature sanctuaries in southern Europe: Las Acebeas holly forest. Most of the route is along narrow traditional paths, most of which will captivate us with stunning panoramic views. The route passes by a curious well known as Pozo de la Nieve, once used to store snow for use in the summer.

Additional Resources

Tags

  • mikeetheviking

    Damn, What a route! What type of spirit burner were you using that wouldn’t jive with 97% alcohol?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    We brought the Vargo Triad. It’s a little finicky and we tried 2 different types of alchohol with no luck. That said, it works fine with the methylated spirits we are finding in Uganda…

  • mikeetheviking

    About a year ago reading the spirit stove post on this site http://www.bikepacking.com/gear/hop-can-stoves-how-to-make-5-ultralight-bikepacking-stoves/ , I built and experimented with a huge variety of stoves…. became addicted for awhile… Just recently I built a stove known world wide and also featured in the comment section in the above link entitled the “FANCEE FEEST STOVE” It has been absolutely the best stove I have used thus far. After having excellent luck with the fancee feest stove, I decided to make a grande sized Texas sized version of the fancee feest that is more appropriately sized for my huge evernew 1.9 titanium pot. FYI my pot is much bigger than most people would ever need, I am using the 1.9L pot simply because I cook for more than one person usually. Anyways, by all means future stovers definitely give the fancee feest a shot…fwiw I built mine using carbon felt…you can see in my pic here how much bigger my Texas sized stove is next to a fancee feest can on the right.

  • Harley Raylor

    Hi there! I ride a specialized AWOL like the one recently reviewed on this site. Do you think I could ride this route with a panniers on the front only on the AWOL? Or do you highly recommend a bikepacking setup only for this route? Thanks!

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Well, it’s doable… However, not ideal. I would 2.1 tires on it and plan on dodging some rocks!

  • Lewis

    Another cracking looking route. I think we are still going to do the Trans sierra nevada this June as we have the time. But this is going on the ever growing list! Love the photos, Im sure you have said it on here already, but what camera are you using? im trying to decide on my point and shoot (cannon s95), or to take the dslr (Mkii) (maybe with just a single lens)…If I can find a easy access way of carrying the dslr that may win…

  • Rob Grey

    looks awesome. much nicer than the rain i’m dealing with right now, it’d be easier to take if the local hills could cool off and get some snow…

    too bad about the stove, i have the triad and love it. haven’t had any problems with it using 90% denatured alcohol. get a nice rolling boil in about 6min at sea level.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks Lewis! Check out the Porcelain Rocket Slinger… That’s how I am toting my 6d.

  • stefanrohner

    great place! what lens angle for example in the first picture? did you crop it? thanks!

  • stefanrohner

    you write its 10% single track, so it should not be a problem to do it with front panniers. ?

  • Wayne

    Mike: You need to add a couple of vent holes in the inner can (near the top) to allow built up vapor pressure to escape. Otherwise, you could get dangerous blowout through the carbon felt. See the comment section in the beer can stove link that you provided and watch the videos by Hiram Cook.

  • mikeetheviking

    Thanks for lookin’ out brother, I actually took this photo right after building the stove. I did drill vent holes moments afterwards.
    Loving my extra large fancee feest stove so much that I had to build my buddy Sean one to replace his fuel hog (see photo below). I did see Hiram’s video where he showed the volcano effect from not using vent holes. I’m sure someone will read this and not learn a lesson the hard way. Thanks Wayne!

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    That was my 135mm lens; no crop…

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Yeah, I could not figure out the issue, for the life of me!

  • stefanrohner

    thanks, so me feeling was good.

  • John Freeman

    I have thoroughly enjoyed this Spanish trail series. Great work as always!
    I rode through the Siles arbour arch last winter and am planning another trip to Sapin this spring. Looking forward to the entire route being posted here soon. Any recommendations for similar tracks to continue into France from the north end of the GR7?

  • Jelle

    thank you for the inspiration… Leaving on Monday to ride this one. Looks like there’s going to be snow on the high sections!

  • carl barnes

    Hi Logan, I have been very impressed with your reports of your travels in Spain. I have a question for you are the refuges open or do you need a key to enter them or do you need to book them? Or is it a case of turning up and using the facilities?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Thanks Carl. You simply turn up. First come, first serve…

  • Charles-Alexandre Desjardins

    Hello all, I tried to import the GPX file into Delorme online map software. It says there is an error with the file. Anyone tried to import successfully?

  • Batman

    Anyone successfully imported GPX file into Delorme map software (online)? It says to me there is an error with the file…

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    I haven’t had a problem with Garmin or other software; I don’t have a Delorne though. Maybe try importing to a RideWithGPS or MapMyRide account and doing it that way…?

  • Batman

    Logan, do I need a GPS to do the GR247 or is the trail well marked? It looks like it’s well marked. Thanks for your input and thank you for the amazing Website.

  • Jerry Griffiths

    Hi Logan, heading to spain next week and we may choose to do the GR 247 instead of the Trans Sierra Nevada. The GPX file isn’t complete though… ANy ideas where i can find the full GPX? Thanks for your help so far, Jerry

  • Jerry Griffiths

    Hi Logan, I found it now on Ride with GPS! Will update you on progress.

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    OK, cool. The GPX above is pretty complete though… without the alternates.

  • Maurits Polak

    Quick question. I’m thinking of singlespeeding this. #norush I have some experience with hilly terrain, not much. But since the ride is the destination I’m not too worried.
    But still…do you think it at all possible to do it singlespeed and what gear would you suggest?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Well, anything is possible. Not sure what gear to recommend but keep in mind that there are several steep sections. I’d recommend studying the elevation profile and making a decision based on your strength and tolerance…

  • Marc Hardeman

    Hi Logan,

    Thanks for sharing! The busses that run from Albacete to Siles, do they take bikes?

    Cheers,

    Marc

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    That I do not know… Sorry.

  • Miles Swanson

    Looking to do some bikepacking this coming May/June. Any suggestions for bike and gear rental over there for this or similar close by routes?

  • http://www.bikepacking.com/ BIKEPACKING.com (Logan)

    Hi miles. Click the Western Europe link at the top of the post to see other routes in the area. Not sure about rentals in Spain…

  • erwin lemmens

    Hi Marc, i’ve taken a lot of busses from cazorla to alicante, and allways took my bicycle with me, if there is space enough in the bus, no problem. If you want to inform you on schedules , you’ll find it on the rome2rio website, lots of greetings, erwin

  • Emilio Molero

    What a pleasure find your post!!!
    I´m Emilio Molero, one of the people who develop this long distance trail, through Jaén County Council, Andalusian Tourism Board and Spanish Tourism Ministry.
    Almost ten years after the opening, we have just joined different local bussiness to offer you a new network for lodging and supporting services: GR247´ers friendly.
    For futher information don´t hesitate and contact me (emiliomolero@dipujaen.es ) or our avatar on Facebook and Twitter: Quebranta, a female bearded vulture.
    Thank you!

  • giddyrider

    Hi there, is this route suitable for kids? (9 and 10 years old). Looking for our first bike packing trip in Spain.

  • Logan Watts

    Hmm. Well, overall I think it could be. The riding’s not too technical but there are a few steep climbs (but not too long). There are also a few spots that have moments of technical challenges. Not having kids I’m probably not the best to speak to that, but I would hypothetically say, yes, I could see taking a 10 year old on this route as long as they are pretty tough. Hope that helps…

  • Logan Watts

    Awesome, thanks Emilio! Great insight on the Quebranta. I wonder if you might offer advice to the gentleman who commented just above this one, regarding children?

  • giddyrider

    Thanks Logan…thinking…

  • Luis Belmonte Díaz

    I love this region, I cycled some sections of this route 20 years ago in a longer tour we made from the nearby Sierra de Alcaraz.

  • Emilio Molero

    I take into account. Thank for the advice.

  • Emilio Molero

    Hello and excuse me for the answer delay…

    You find all the details on the GR247 oficial website (English version): http://www.sierrasdecazorlaseguraylasvillas.es/gr247/en/ . About the GR247 as a route suitable for kids depends on their experience and the external supporting.

    Just about, you could use the services from the network “GR247´ers friendly” (obviously English version), asking through email toturismo@dipujaen.es -Tourism Service on Jaén County Council-.

    This new network offers you lodging, transfers, outdoor activities, supporting services… most of them adapted for two wheels travellers. It is suitable for family experiences. Most of the network´s members speak English. Anyway, if you are interested I would send you directly -PDF file-. My email: emiliomolero@dipujaen.es .

    Thank you for your interest.

  • Emilio Molero

    Thanks for your advice!!!

  • giddyrider

    Thx!

  • giddyrider

    Thanks Emilio!