in , ,

Hozgarganta Trail: Between Craggy & Peaceful Shores of an Ancient River

Rosario Pérez | Photos: Fran Montes

Hozgarganta is a tributary stream that flows into the Guadiaro River in Jimena de la Frontera. On this picturesque hike, you will discover the remains of old flour mills and even an arsenal dating back to the 18th century.

The Carlos III Royal Artillery Factory was built in Jimena de la Frontera, in an area known as “Pasada de Alcalá” during the second half of the 18th Century. The factory once manufactured weaponry to help in defending Spain’s overseas colonies.

The chronicles of the time say that, from this location down to the mouth of the Palmones River, numerous ammunitions were transported for use during the Great Siege of Gibraltar (1779 – 1783).

Hozgarganta Jimena de la Frontera Hiking Trail Guadiaro River
Hozgarganta River, Artillery Factory Ruins | | ©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

Today, the remains of a canal that once supplied water to blast furnaces in this armoury (also known by the name “Cao”) is one of the many attractions that hikers traversing the Hozgarganta trail will come across during their walk.

Known as the “last virgin river of Andalusia” (as there is no irrigation in its entire basin), this tributary river of the Guadiaro offers stunning panoramas as it winds through the town of Jimena.

You will also find, in addition to other historical remains such as the flour mills, which are typical of the area, relatively accessible rock pools and riverbanks which are ideal for cooling off on a hot day.

©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

On this trail, which spans 3 kilometres, you can begin your journey from either direction – but the Town Council of Jimena recommends beginning your trek at the far end of the “Cao”, in the “Cruz Blanca” area, near the “Los Alcornocales” camping site.

This was once a crossroad between commercial routes from the North, mainly from the Cortes de la Frontera (Malaga Province) and Ubrique (Cádiz).

Ancient Fountains, Otters and Birds of Prey

Hozgarganta Jimena de la Frontera
©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

Setting off from the Cruz Blanca side, you’ll soon come across the Gaitán mill, “where you can see the water inlet and outlet, which once powered it, as well as the external architecture, which has been conserved for centuries.”

The trail leads down the river, along a cobbled path and several steps carved into the rock, which, during the 19th and early 20th centuries, provided access to the old water catchment points of the municipality.

Among them, the well-known “Fuente de la Teja” which retains its original decoration stands out.

Hozgarganta Jimena de la Frontera
©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

The Hozgarganta river, whose source is in La Sauceda (Malaga), at an elevation of about 160 meters, and flows 35 kilometres through the Los Alcornocales Natural Park, has some of the most beautiful scenery in Jimena.

The path runs parallel to the river and is home to an enormous variety of flora and fauna, which the experts attribute to the quality of its waters. You can even observe otters in their natural habitat, as well as the flight of numerous birds of prey.

Hozgarganta Hiking, Jimena
©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

Before reaching the canal, known locally as the “Fábrica de Bombas” (“Bomb Factory”), and leaving behind the well-known “Molino del Profesor” (“Teacher’s Mill”), the recommended route skirts the hill of San Cristóbal, at the top of which stands the Monumental Complex of the Castillo de Jimena, and passes by the El Risco Ethnobotanical Garden, which can be reached from the river via the so-called “Roman road”.

Throughout your excursion, you will come across lush vegetation growing by the riverbanks, mainly wild olive trees, cork oak, gall, eucalyptus, ash and oleander.

Hozgarganta Hiking, Jimena
©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

The trail, which can also be taken in reverse, or even from the middle by entering through the Vereda de la Encubierta, has several information panels available to guide visitors, and which explain, for example, how these old mills once operated and why the canal of the “Bomb Factory” closed in 1789.

Also, very recently, one of the information panels has been installed to of one of the strongest defenders of the river: the Jimena resident Kiko Rebolledo, one of the leading advocates at the environmental association Agaden, within and outside the Campo de Gibraltar, who died prematurely in February 2019.

How do I get to the Hozgarganta trail?

Hozgarganta Jimena Hike
Hozgarganta Trail, Jimena de la Frontera | ©Fran Montes, Reach Alcance

From the A405, towards Ronda, continue until you pass the Jimena intersection and, at the next exit on the left, take the exit for Ubrique (C3331).

From here, continue straight on for about one kilometre, and take the exit to the left along the Carretera de la Cruz Blanca. The other option is to start the route in the opposite direction, parking the car in the vicinity of Pasada de Alcalá.

What do you think?