Hiking in Serra Gelada Natural Park, Spain

I'm pretty sure this hike is going to be the end of me. I consider myself a decent walker and I cannot by no means call this hike hard o...

I'm pretty sure this hike is going to be the end of me. I consider myself a decent walker and I cannot by no means call this hike hard or even difficult but the constant ascents and descents are just steep. Very steep. The path across Serra Gelada national park follows the coastline and at the times the path is just few meters away from the cliffs and a massive drop to the sea down below. It’s quite nothing like I’ve seen on coastal Spain this far. The steep cliffs that shine in thousands shades of orange and the sea below changing color from the clearest turquoise to deep dark blue reminds me of southern Portugal. I’m surrounded by silence and my thoughts run free. This is what I love about hiking. It brings me peace. 

The main reason behind my trip to Alicante was to go hiking and peak some hills. Winter comes early in Scotland and I thus hadn't done proper walking in ages. I was more than keen on to get my boots on and hit some trails but as usually there was one thing I had not taken into a consideration: the limits that the public transportation sets for hiking. I had found tons of amazing hikes I wanted to climb but accessing natural parks and mountains without a car just seemed like a pain in the arse. There was either no information available or no buses going anywhere where I wanted to be.

I eventually abandoned my plans to hike in Maigmo and Mariola, and did what I usually do: searched for a hiking spot in a relatively short distance from a popular subway route and jumped on a train hoping for the best. It paid off as few hours later I found myself wandering on the coastline of Sierra Gelada natural park.

Hiking in Serra Gelada – The route across the natural park 

It's midday when I arrive to the start of the trail. I've spent hours in trams and waiting for them at the stations and I'm getting slightly worried. The hike I’ve chosen crosses the whole park and is estimated to last 4-4.5 hours and I got 5 hours until it's going to get dark. That leaves me no chance of getting lost which, in all honesty, is something that tends to happen quite often when I go hiking. Plan: minimal amount of photography and unnecessary stops until I hit the top and get an idea how challenging this hike is actually going to be.

The path leads me straight into a forest and starts ascending right from the start. The first part of the hike is all uphill but it’s rather easy to walk. There are painted marks on the ground and dozens of shortcuts for those willing to take steeper paths. There are few view points but otherwise I spend the first part of the hike under the trees. The first part of the route takes me up to the telecommunication station. There are quite few walkers walking on these paths but as I later come to learn, most of them are heading up to the top and down the same route, rather than continuing their journey across the park.

The route follows a paved road for a bit and then takes a turn towards the cliffs. This is when the paths start to divide and it becomes a wee bit hard to follow the marks on the ground but honestly speaking it’s not a problem. All the paths following the coastline keep connecting with each other and it’s impossible to get lost as long as one follows the coast. Its without the doubt the most beautiful part of the hike. The sun is shining, warm wind is blowing and you’re making your way across hills right by the sea. If you take a peak over the cliffs you can see waves splashing the coast dozens of meters below you. It’s easy to forget that you’re just kilometers away from the nearest towns because there is nothing to disturb you up there.

The fun begins. The coastline of Serra Gelada is pretty much just made of hills. You climb one up, you climb it down and head up the next one straight away. I lost a count how many hills I ended up ascending that day but I’m positive it was something between five and ten. The first few are alright but further you go more difficult the descents get. It’s one of those paths where you just kinda hope that you place your foot on a right spot and the rocks you place your feet on won’t roll off the second you put your weight on them. It’s one of those paths where you can easily find yourself on all four if you’re not careful (been there done that) and where, quite frankly, you don’t want to hurt yourself because nobody is going to find you there. I’m pissed at myself for, once again, not telling anyone where I was heading or at least leaving a note on my hostel bed.

There’s a point when I really start to wonder whether I’m going to make it out of this park alive. I keep slipping and the ground keeps moving under me. I’ve however, got to the point when I can’t really turn back. Firstly, because I wouldn’t make it down from the hills before the dark and secondly, because the hills I’ve descended seem so ridiculously steep from the bottom that I’m quite confident it is going to safer just to keep going rather than trying to climb back up. So I continue. The hills seem to never end until I suddenly realize that the path starts to take me away from the coast.

The last part of the hike is without a doubt the most boring one. The path, now marked by piles of stones, takes me down towards the skyline of Benidorm. The path ends to the cross of Benidorm but that won't be the end of the walk as the closest stops for public transportation are kilometers away. If you decide to take a tram back to Alicante like I did, prepare yourself for another 5 kilometers of walking.

How to get to Serra Gelada Natural Park 

The Natural Park can be accessed from either Benidorm (south) or El Albir (north). The hike to the lighthouse leaves from the northern end whereas the hike to the Benidorm cross leaves from the south. The path crossing the whole park can be accessed from both ends even though I recommend entering it from the north as the path can be a wee bit difficult to find from the southern end.

To get to northern end of Serra Gelada, I’d recommend taking a tram to El Albir and walking across the town to the start of the trails. The starting point is pinned in google maps under name Camino del Faro.

The southern end of the park is located in the outskirts of Benidorm. I took a tram back to Alicante but I would recommend taking a bus because the walk from the Benidorm Cross to the tram stop is around 5km.

Tips for visiting Serra Gelada 

  • There are three marked hiking routes in Serra Gelada: one in the south, one in the north and one crossing the whole park. The first two are easy walks, the third one quite lot more challenging. 
  • The hike itself is approximately 8km but including the walks to subway stations in both ends the total length of the route is around 15km. 
  • Even though the hike is not particularly long in distance it has lots of very steep ascents and descents that take time and can be rather dangerous. I wouldn't thus recommend this hike for everyone. 
  • Leave early and check the train times! It ended up taking almost two hours for me to get to Serra Gelada from Alicante because I didn't check the train schedule and had to wait ages for a train connection in Benidorm. 
  • Find more info about the hike in here

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