A Guide to Gravel Routes in Málaga

Málaga Gravel

A growing hub of cycling of all disciplines in the heart of southern Andalucia, Málaga is much more than the Costa del Sol holidays it is often associated with.

The city, and by extension, the region of Málaga, is a veritable smorgasbord of sweet and spicy gravel routes that will take you from the pine-clad paths of Los Montes de Málaga to the dramatic views of the El Chorro gorge.

Leave whatever preconceptions you had of Málaga and the Costa del Sol to one side, because after seeing these breathtaking climbs, eyewatering gradients and stunning coastal spins, you’ll be rearing to join us and try these epic gravel adventures for yourself.

Gravel Cycling Routes in Málaga

Guadalhorce river, the airport and the Sierra de Mijas

Some of the easiest routes to access from the city centre are those that start from the Guadalhorce Park. The Park is located at the mouth of the Guadalhorce River, just to the west of Misericordia Beach. It’s hard to miss given that at any time of day, cyclists and walkers can be seen crossing from the tarmac onto the dirt track that runs parallel to the river.

From here there are two options: to continue straight along the right-hand side of the riverbank, or cross the wooden bridge and continue along the left-hand side of the riverbank. Either route will take you right under the flight path of landing planes, and to the boundaries of the airport, which can make for pretty unique photos.

Crossing to the left-hand side of the river will allow you to access the villages of Alhaurín de la Torre, El Romeral and Cártama. From Pinos de Alhaurín, there are several roads and tracks that lead up into the Sierra de Mijas, with some impressive climbs such as the Puerto de la Graja. This lush green route is signposted for cyclists and walkers, with a natural spring and look out points. This loop, starting from Málaga, is around 67 km in length with 1,100 m of elevation.

Once in the Sierra, a beautiful network of tracks and paths zig-zag through the dense forest made up of oaks, wild olive trees and palmettos, such as the ones leading up to the Cañana del Lobo lookout point, a large paved and partially-shaded rest area with uninterrupted 360º views, crowned by a sculpture of a howling wolf.

Los Montes de Málaga

Los Montes de Málaga Natural Park is a pine-forest playground offering the perfect terrain for gravel adventures. Easily accessible through the neighbourhood of El Limonar to the east of the city, after battling a couple of steep climbs on the road, this swiftly turns into a dirt track and you can proceed to get your wheels dirty to your heart’s content.

We recommend having the route planned out before you go, as a wrong turn in these mountains could get you quite lost… GPS signal isn’t always reliable once you are deep into this labyrinth of pathways, so make sure you stick to the pre-planned route unless you’re riding with someone who knows these hills well.

Routes through the Montes de Málaga can vary from 30 km to 60 km and more, with plenty of varied elevation and descents to sink your proverbial gravel teeth into. The views from this Natural Park are stunning, stretching both back over the city and out to the Mediterranean Sea, and deeper into the Andalucian hills if you face inland.

La Ermita de Los Verdiales

La Ermita de Los Verdiales is a small abandoned chapel located right on the dividing line between the Campanillas River and the Guadalmedina River; right on the border of the judicial districts of Verdiales and Roalabota. It is an architectural checkpoint for local cyclists that is believed date back to around the beginning of the eighteenth century.

The route from the centre of town crosses west out of Málaga and through el Puerto de la Torre. It is an almost 50-50 mix of road and gravel track, which gains elevation fast thanks to some steep ramps that eventually offer some pretty spectacular views across inland Málaga. This route averages out at around 38 km with around 650 m of elevation – short but sharp!

There is not a whole lot of shade on the route, so earlier rides are better if you want to avoid the midday heat. Unfortunately, there is also no water fountain once you reach the Ermita, so if it’s a warm day, take a couple of bottles of water along just in case.

El Chorro by gravel

To the northwest of Malaga sits the El Chorro gorge, which shares its name with a nearby village in the municipality of Álora, near the Guadalhorce Valley. That being said, it’s still within the region of Málaga and is close enough to reach by bike.

El Chorro is heaven for all kinds of “outdoors-y” adventurers. While it’s best known for rock climbing and hiking (home to the Caminito del Rey, a breath-taking natural ravine carved out by the turquoise waters of the Guadalhorce River. See our Cyclist’s Guide to Málaga for more information!), this area also offers plenty of gravel and mountain bike trails through the plunging gorge and dramatic canyon.

By car, El Chorro is about 60 km from Málaga, but cycling there adds a few extra kilometres into the mix, with the outbound route stretching for around 75 km. The ride starts at the Guadalhorce Park and essentially follows the Guadalhorce River up to the El Chorro gorge, passing through Cártama, Pizarra, Álora and Valle de Abdalajís. The return journey can always be shortened by hopping on a train back to Málaga in Álora, which will bring you and your bike right into the city centre.

Take a look at a road route we did in spring 2023 to feast your eyes on this breathtaking landscape!

The Eat Sleep Cycle Cycling Hub, Málaga

Málaga is also the home of our Malaga Cycling Hub. This city is a gateway to Andalucia, Portugal and beyond and our benchmark for culture, food, good vibes and amazing riding. For us, Málaga is the place to be, it’s a buzzing city that’s full of life and we’re proud to be part of Málaga’s journey as an up-and-coming cycling destination.

Come and see us, grab a coffee and let’s talk cycling!

Book Your Place on a Málaga Cycling Tour

If this has got you inspired to travel to Málaga, then why not view our cycling tours in Málaga and check out the trips and packages we have available. If you’re planning to travel here and don’t want to worry about bringing a bike, get in touch with our Málaga Hub and talk to us about our Málaga Bike Hire service to rent top-quality, fully-serviced road, gravel and mountain bikes.

If you’ve any questions about your possible cycling tour in Málaga give us a call now on +34 951 01 48 08 or contact us online for more info!

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Written by Louise Laker

The bike has always been an escape for me - a way to get rid of the stresses of the day, to set myself a physical & mental challenge, to meet great people and have ton of fun.

After years of studying, working in the sustainability sector and road racing on the UK circuit, I moved from London to Girona to pursue the dream of professional cycling.

Instead, something more incredible happened - I co-founded Eat Sleep Cycle in the cycling capital of Europe, Girona.

We create & deliver beautiful cycling tours all over Europe. We love what we do and that shows in our work.

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