How to hike Rio Cerezuelo Cazorla

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Rio Cerezuelo in Cazorla is one of the most stunning hikes you can do from the village. Starting off along the lush river, crossing wooden bridges, leaving the river continuing up to the mesmerizing Malena waterfall, and rounding off with breathtaking views of Cazorla on the way back.

If you’re looking for an easy morning or evening walk that can be combined with exploring the village, this is it. You can also combine it with a walk up to the intriguing ruins of Castillo Cinco Esquinas which overlooks Cazorla. With or without a detour, this is one of the most beautiful hikes in Andalucia that you can do all year round.

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Passed Cascada de la Malena

Practical information

  • Province: Jaen
  • Mountain range: Sierra de Cazorla
  • Length: 5,6 km
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Elevation: 247 m
  • Route: Circular
  • Difficulty: Easy-Medium
  • Season: All year round
  • Hiking with dogs: Hiking the whole round trip with dogs is safe only from summer until January-February. After that, the pine processionary caterpillars come out which can be deadly for dogs and usually hang around until early summer. As an alternative, you can hike the river up and down with your dog, as there are no pine trees there. There are no natural water sources after Cascada de La Malena, so if you walk the whole round trip, make sure you bring extra water for your dog. Check out everything you need to know about hiking with dogs in my post here.

How to get to Rio Cerezuelo Cazorla

Rio Cerezuelo hike starts just above the tourist information walking towards the castle. Before the road turns left there is a small parking with space for only a few cars. This is the trailhead to both Rio Cerezuelo and Pico Gilillo trail.

Trailhead of Rio Cerezuelo Cazorla
The small parking at the trailhead of Rio Cerezuelo in Cazorla

How to get to Cazorla

There are a few buses from Jaen to Cazorla which take 2:30 hours and from Granada which take 4 hours. The connections are not very good for a day trip, so you should stay at least a couple of nights in Cazorla to be able to hike Rio Cerezuelo and see the village.

Cazorla and its surroundings do deserve a lot more time and there are plenty of hiking opportunities going straight from the village.

Yet, the best way to reach Cazorla is by car, and this opens up a whole world of other opportunities like seeing other villages and hike amazing trails like Rio Borrosa.

By adding Cazorla to the GPS, it will easily take you there. Here is the approximate driving time from the following cities:

  • Jaen: 1 hr 10 min
  • Granada: 2 hrs
  • Cordoba: 2 hrs
  • Almeria: 2 hrs 50 min
  • Malaga: 3 hrs

The closest airports are Granada, Almeria, and Malaga.

You can easily hike Rio Cerezuelo Cazorla all year round
One of several waterfalls along Rio Cerezuelo


When is the best time to hike Rio Cerezuelo

Rio Cerezuelo is a stunning hike all year round. Yet, in the summer months, it can get hot to do the last bit of the trail. After leaving the river, there is an ascent that can get sweaty before you arrive at the waterfall.

Once you pass the mesmerizing waterfall, Cascada de la Malena, there is no water to cool down the rest of the hike, so if you do go in the warmest months, you should do it early in the morning to avoid the heat. Here are some tips for summer hiking.

In the winter months, it can get frosty in the morning, and the shade covers the last part of the trail early as the sun goes down quickly. Thus, the best time of the day to go in winter is midday.

Rio Cerezuelo hike
Views across the valley after passing Cascada de la Malena with Cazorla village and the Castillo de las Cinco Esquinas on top of the hill to the left

What to bring

Though Rio Cerezuelo is a fairly short hike, it goes on uneven terrain and can be steep in parts. You can expect to get wet on your feet, especially when there’s a lot of water in the river, but also in wet, slippery weather.

Bring your hiking poles if you like as there are uneven and steep parts, but in general, you won’t need to bring a whole lot of hiking gadgets. The path is well marked.

You can also bring lunch on a fine day and either eat by the waterfall or with the breathtaking village views on the way back.

A minimum to bring on this hike:

  • water
  • hiking shoes
  • caps
  • sunscreen (in summer)
  • snack
  • camera

Where to stay when hiking Rio Cerezuelo

The best place to stay when hiking Rio Cerezuelo is in Cazorla, as the trail goes straight from the village.

But Cazorla is also the best place to stay in the entire natural park with plenty of hiking routes, castles, and hermitages. There is also a vibrant village vibe with plenty of restaurants and bars.

Views of Cazorla from the trail
Views of Cazorla from the trail

Here are the top places to stay in Cazorla:

La Casa de la Abuela

La Casa de la Abuela is a cute, traditional country house in the historical center of Cazorla, close to the trailhead. This is the perfect place if you want to stay a few nights and have your own space with a kitchen.

Book here

Albergue Inturjoven Cazorla

Albergue Inturjoven Cazorla is centrally located and has a private swimming pool, which is perfect for the summer months. They also serve buffet meals in the restaurant.

Book here

Hotel Balcón de Cazorla

Hotel Balcón de Cazorla is a comfortable family-run hotel that offers packed lunch for your hike and can help you with arranging tours. You can also enjoy the outdoor pool in the summer months, which even has its own café.

Book here

Hiking Rio Cerezuelo in Cazorla

Remember to follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles when hiking. You can read more about them here

Hiking Rio Cerezuelo

The first section of the hike is without a doubt the most stunning part, along the narrow path along the vivid river, passing small waterfalls, and crossing tiny wooden bridges.

The glittering water, lush green forest, and the tweeting birds all make up for fairy tale forest vibes during the first half an hour. Once you get to a junction, you’ll leave the river, following the sign to Cascada de la Malena to the right.

End of Rio Cerezuelo and sign to Cascada de la Malena
The first junction you get to when you leave Rio Cerezuelo and turn right towards Cascada de la Malena

The path slowly becomes steeper as it ascends through pine trees and breathtaking village views behind you. Following the trail, you’ll soon hear the rushing sound of the mesmerizing waterfall Cascada de la Malena.

Before you reach it, make sure you get a photo from the natural viewpoint. There is also an old traditional boiler pit to your left before the waterfall which is pretty cool.

Passing the waterfall, the trail winds back to the other side of the valley and starts opening up to views of Cazorla again.

You’ll soon get to a sign to a path to the left where you can extend your hike by 40 minutes to see the ruins of Castillo de Las Cinco Esquinas. This is the structure that towers above the village that you’ll see from you leave the waterfall.

It offers astounding views of the surrounding landscape and I highly recommend it if you have the time.

Not long past the path that goes up to Castillo de Las Cinco Esquinas, there is a path going down to the right, taking you to Castillo de la Yedra. This is a fairly steep trail, but a shortcut back to the trailhead.

To complete the Rio Cerezuelo trail, continue on the path until it meets a rocky descent towards narrow a village road. Turn right down the village road and keep following the zig-zag road all the way down to the tourist office.

If you have parked by the trailhead, turn right before the tourist office and the Santa Maria Church and continue up along the church and river for a couple of minutes, and you’re there.

Cascada de la Malena waterfall
Cascada de la Malena waterfall

Other river hikes in Andalucia:

Reflections on hiking Rio Cerezuelo

Hiking Rio Cerezuelo is a surprisingly pleasant walk packed with so much beauty. It’s definitely a must hike when in Cazorla and can easily be combined with other activities like Castillo de Las Cinco Esquinas or Castillo de la Yedra.

If you’re looking for a nice walk to do together with seeing the other main sights in Cazorla, Rio Cerezuelo hike is perfect. But remember, due to the location of Cazorla, all hikes going straight from the village will be fairly steep.

Happy hiking!

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