Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
2,350.00 m (7,709.97 ft)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
32.40 km (20.13 mi)
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The Sierra Nevada range in Spain is truly impressive. People can enjoy the beach on the shores of the Mediterranean while looking at these massive snowy peaks that are also the highest of the Iberian Peninsula. On this overnighter, you will spend a night at the comfortable Poqueira Hut and summit Mulhacén, mainland Spain’s highest mountain.

The trail starts in the small village of Capileira. There are services, hotels, and restaurants here if you wish to spend a night or grab a bite. In the first stretch you will gain a bit of elevation and then lose it all as you descend to the abandoned village of La Cebadilla (about 6 km in). The Poqueira Hydro Central is just around the corner. With a four-wheel-drive or high-clearance vehicle, you can reach the Central and park your car, saving over 10 kilometers round trip.

The real ascent starts at the Central. The trail is somewhat faint in areas, but always easy to follow. The grade is manageable, but constant. Roughly 5 kilometers after the central, you will reach the Poqueira Hut. Before going in, turn around and enjoy the views. On a clear day, you will see the valley and the Mediterranean below.

The Poqueira Hut is big and can accommodate 100 outdoors enthusiasts. It has a room to dry wet clothes, flush toilets, pay showers, a fireplace, magazines, and games. It also has a full kitchen and the cooks prepare tasty meals should you wish to opt for full board. If you bring your own food, there is a cooking area, and the kitchen sells snacks and refreshments at a very decent price.

From the hut, there are two options to gain the summit ridge, or both can be combined to make a loop as described in this adventure.

Head northwest toward the Mulhacén River and follow it until the ridge, keeping a right toward the end to reach the Collado de la Mosca. This section can require good effort in winter as snow tends to accumulate there. On the other hand, it is mostly sheltered from the wind.

At the ridge, the Vivac de la Caldera Hut (no services; "vivac" means "bivouac") will be to the west, and the Mulhacén will be to the east (right). Follow the ridge to the summit. The top of the mountain is unmistakable. It has the typical Spanish concrete platform and concrete cylinder with a metal plaque.

From the summit, the views are impressive in all directions. The Veleta stands out to the west while the Alcazaba is the highest peak to the east. On a good day, you can see Morocco to the south and the far reaches of Andalucía to the north. This is the highest range in Spain, narrowly edging the Pyrenees. However, the latter is bigger and does have more peaks above 3,000 meters. The highest peak in all Spanish territories is the Pico del Teide in the Canary Islands.

To descend, follow what is known as the Loma del Mulhacén, essentially its southern face. Go over the Mulhacén II, a false summit, and keep descending for about 4 kilometers to the Alto del Chorillo. From there, you will see the hut, which is a little over 2 kilometers away to the northwest. The Loma is very gentle and follows a dirt road for most of the way. In winter when the snowpack is good, you may be able to descend gullies straight to the hut.

Once back at the hut and all packed up, follow the trail back to Capileira while enjoying the views of the valley and the sea.

Note: From the Poqueira Hut, the Veleta and Alcazaba can also be reached by hiking. The Mulhacén and Veleta’s north faces offer the best mountaineering routes in the range. The Mulhacén route is typically done in three days, as it has a very long approach.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Days

2

Pros

Fantastic views that extend to the Mediterranean. Solitude in winter.

Cons

Long approach. Crowds in summer.

Trailhead Elevation

4,711.29 ft (1,436.00 m)

Highest point

11,414.04 ft (3,479.00 m)

Net Elevation Gain

6,702.76 ft (2,043.00 m)

Features

Flushing toilets
Backcountry camping
Shelters
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Big Game Watching

Typically multi-day

Yes

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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