Hiking La Concha, Marbella's most famous mountain, can be started from Juanar just 25 minutes from central Marbella. This experience is a must for those that enjoy nature and experiencing a unique perspective of Marbella that few get to see.
We recommend you coordinate your first summit with an experienced guide, because there are numerous paths and some parts of the climb are treacherous. This hike is not recommended for children under the age of 12.
At 1200 meters above sea level, the mountain of La Concha is one of Marbella's most recognized landmarks with its chiseled shape and deep grooves. The hike starts at the natural park and resort hotel Juanar and continues 8 km to the top.
You can see olive groves, pine trees, berry bushes and walnut trees along the trek as well as Spanish goats, eagles and owls. If you visit La Concha take this advice from the Citizens Security delegation:
"Anyone who wishes to visit this beautiful mountain zone needs to take the necessary precautions: wearing adequate clothing, taking enough water and a mobile phone with charged batteries. In case of emergency, you should contact emergency services by calling 112 and stay in one place until you are found."
How to get there: Take highway A-7 direction Benalmadena-Algeciras. Exit "Centro Comercial La Cañada - Ojen" (A-355). Continue 11 km along road and turn left at sign indicating "Refugio de Juanar". Continue another 5km.
Parking: You can park at the hotel or continue further 0.5km to the entrance gates.
From the Refugio de Juanar, descend 100m to a junction, then turn right at the ‘Mirador’ sign.Looping up through the pines you reach a parking area, then pass a green metal gate and continue along the track following the sign, GR243.1 Istan.
After passing a ruined stone hut you reach a sign that says PR-A 168 La Concha, pointing right off the track. (20 mins)
Cut right away from the track towards the green mesh fence of Cortijo de Juanar, then angle hard right down through an olive grove for 100m to a four-way junction.
Cutting left into a stand of pines you come to a three-way junction. Here, angle left following another sign that says PR-A 168 La Concha.
Reaching the top of the ridge, head straight on for a few metres, then angle right and continue along the ridge, now heading almost due west between low-growing oaks.
Having run just left of the ridge, the path cuts up right to its highest point and passes a large cairn (1 hr 10 mins) before descending for a short distance.
Cairns mark the way from here.
Son's evaluation: Hiking La Concha with my friends was so fun. We had a great time climbing up trees and passing through little paths. The best parts were looking at the beautiful view from the top and having a hot chocolate when we came back to the bottom. Grade: 10
Daughter's evaluation: I think it is really fun hiking La Concha. As you walk, there are so many trees to climb and that is fun. It is also tiring. You will need a lot of water and food. Grade: 10
Mom's evaluation: We really had a great day hiking La Concha with the kids and some of our friends. We didn't make it to the top as we got to a point that was unfamiliar and we had already been walking for 2 hours. The children begged to continue, but we were afraid they would be too tired for the return trip. So we promised we would get up earlier and continue to the top next time.
I suggest you start as early as possible. Park your car as far up as you can. You'll get to a gate where you can no longer drive and have to start walking. Choose a day that's not too hot and not too cold. Spring and Fall are probably the best times to walk up. Look out for posts indicating the way as it's not always clear, however the path is pretty straightforward.
Our group consisted of children from 6 yrs - 10 yrs and we hiked a total of 4 hours. They all surprised us with their stamina although I have doubts my own kids could go hiking La Concha without complaining if they didn't have friends to keep them occupied. So go with friends if you can. We took our dog with us and he thoroughly enjoyed the freedom.
After about an hour and a half we took a break along a rock to eat the picnic we brought along with us. There are no trash cans around, so you'll have to pick up your waste and take it back with you.
All the children have after-school sport activities, but are used to traveling around by car, so we were all surprised at how long they could walk.
Bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Get the kids to go to the toilet right before you go as there are no facilities around other than the hotel. After hiking La Concha we had a coffee and hot chocolate at the hotel, which has a cozy atmosphere, but the lack of friendly service left a bad taste in our mouths.
If you have really small kids or babies, you can still visit Juanar and have a nice stroll even with strollers until you get to a rocky point where you need to somewhat climb. You can then turnback and still count in an hour or two of walking.
You must absolutely wear comfortable shoes and maybe even bring along blister pads or band-aids in case you reach this point. Overall, it's a wonderful place to go as a family that includes exercise, nature and it's free! Grade: 10
Dad's evaluation: Hiking la Concha from Juanar with children should take about 6 hours up and down (with a snack break). This hike is easier than the one starting from Istan as the path at the beginning is very wide, well marked and does not offer much difficulty for about two hours (there are only 2-3 steep, not too long segments). After that, the path gets narrower and requires much more attention. If you are walking with younger children, it is a good time to turn back. If you keep going, watch for loose stones and admire the view as you reach the top. It is worth the effort as you will dominate the entire Costa del Sol and clearly see Gibraltar and Morocco across the stretch. Don't forget to take a snack and enough water.
You are encouraged to hike La Concha with an experienced guide. Grade: 10
Wendys family (San Pedro)
Mom: At 8.30am 15 adults, 20 children (aged 11 - 16), 4 guides and 2 dogs left El Refugio del Juanar to start the trek to La Concha. As we were such a large group, of varying abilities, it was decided that we would make a stop every 30 minutes so that we could all stay together to some degree.
The first part of the walk took us up a wide track flanked by pretty olive trees and then into a shaded pine forest which gently zig-zagged upwards. After a brief water break we began a more demanding climb with with some loose stones and narrow paths until we reached the base of La Cruce, the smaller peak, we were again out in the open, this part had taken us about 1 hour.
The next 30 minutes was quite easy, on mostly level paths with some gentle inclines, already the views were amazing. As we proceeded there were some challenging areas, first a tricky descent down, some walkers had to use their hands to steady themselves, then along a narrow path with a steep drop to the right, up the other side and then along a ridge. The trickiest bit was to come, a steep climb down 2 metres with the need for hands, then a narrow ledge that required some care which all walkers managed without issue!
Another hours trek across a ridge, a small descent and then the final ascent to the La Concha peak and it was so worth it, the views were breathtaking, it had taken us 4 hours with stops.
After a bite to eat, some water and photos we began our return trip. There were more up hill sections than I had expected and after 3 hours we were back at the cars. A great walk achievable by most people of reasonable fitness.
I have done this walk before with my family and it took us 5 hours, my husband had also completed the round trip in 3 hours, so as you can see, depending on the level of fitness will determine the time it could take you.
Corinne's family (Benahavis)
Mom: We went hiking La Concha with my daughter (age 12) two weeks ago. The hike was organised by her school. The weather was not too hot, we started from El Refugio in Juanar and it took us about 3 hours to reach the top with 3 or more stops. At the end it gets more difficult, because the top has a long steep edge, so you have to be pretty aware of not losing your balance. I would say it's a pretty steep and difficult walk.
You will need to bring plenty of water - I would recommend al least 2 litres and plenty of sun block cream. And for the top, depending on the weather, a warm jacket, as it can get windy and cold. Don´t forget plenty of energy food!!
My advice would be to bring only children able to walk for a long time and not too young and not afraid of climbing! It would help to take other friends of a similar age to motivate them. And plenty of self motivation too!!!
Hiking La Concha is a good family activity to do and you will be very satisfied once you have done it!!! Something to definitely to recommend.
Vincent's family (San Pedro) grade:
Vincent: We received an invitation by the Pinsapo Ecological Association to climb the peak of La Concha, and we met our guide at the Juanar Refuge just off the Coin Road. Surprisingly, Carina, my wife and I were the only people to turn up, and enjoyed the luxury of a private guide and autumn colours.
I have climbed La Concha, the 1200 metre peak behind Marbella a number of times and have walked to the Mirador de Juanar frequently, but thanks to Antonio, the head of the Agrupación Ecologista Pinsapo, he made us see a completely new word. We did not know that in the forest at the base of the Cruz de Juanar, some 37 different species of orchids exist and flour in late spring. More surprising to us was the fact that the original forest of quejales was chopped some 120 years back, to feed the furnaces of Marbellas iron ore mines. Olive trees were then planted at an altitude of 1000 metres, but because of the height, the harvest often did not live up to expectations. Some of the olive farms were abandoned and now wild pine trees have taken over in many parts.
Agrupación Ecologista Pinsapo is reforesting the area with the original quejales and pinsapos, the rare Spanish fir. I can highly recommend hiking La Concha and participating in the Pinsapo Association activities and excursions. See www.ecologistaspinsapo.com. Here are some photos of our hike: