If you want to be one of the first to discover the newest hiking route in Sierra de Mijas, Malaga you’re in the right place. Ruta de Los Duendes is a sweet and short trail with spectacular coastal views and the highlights are the little gnome statues chilling along the path.
With word spreading like wildfire in local hiking communities Ruta de Los Duendes has quickly become the local curiosity in Sierra de Mijas. But fear not. It’s still only locally known as pictures of these mystical gnomes are piquing interest among hikers. Especially those with kids or those who are big kids (like myself) so I still haven’t found it crowded.
If you bring your kids on this hike, be aware that there are a couple of steep sections, especially as you get to the top of the quarry. If they’re used to hiking there shouldn’t be any problems, but keep in mind that they stay on the trail so they don’t slip and fall down and that they – like yourself – have adequate shoes. The hiking routes in Sierra de Mijas are not for flip-flop hiking and this is no exception.
At the moment there are two little gnomes along the trail, but rumor has it that there will be more. While we wait to see if there are more coming, here is a complete guide to hiking Ruta de Los Duendes, or the “gnome trail”, in Sierra de Mijas, Malaga.
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- Province: Malaga
- Mountain range: Sierra de Mijas
- Length: 6 km
- Time: 1.5-2 hours
- Elevation: 243 meters
- Altidute: 898 meters
- Route: Circular
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Hiking season: mid-september to May
- Hiking with dogs: You can bring your dog on this hike, but there are pine trees, so avoid the pine processionary caterpillar season as these larvae can be fatal to your pet.
How to get to Ruta de Los Duendes, Sierra de Mijas
The trailhead of the gnome trail is by the quarry, Cantera Los Arenales in Sierra de Mijas. There’s a big parking area there where you can leave the car. If you don’t drive, there are local buses between Fuengirola and Mijas Pueblo. From the village, you can expect to walk about an hour on the road to the trailhead.
You can put “Cantera Los Arenales” in the GPS to get there. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from Mijas Pueblo and 20 minutes from Fuengirola.
Once at the parking, you’ll see a big hiking sign indicating that you’re entering Sierra de Mijas.
When is the best time to hike Ruta de Los Duendes
Since Ruta de Los Duendes is a short trail you can do it all year round, but I don’t recommend going in the summer season as there are no natural water sources along the trail. If you do decide to go in the summer, make sure you go early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the worst heat.
The perfect time to hike the Gnome trail in Sierra de Mijas is without a doubt the winter season, but autumn and spring are also great as the temperatures are more pleasant for hiking in lower altitudes.
What to bring
Since this is a short route, there isn’t any need for fancy hiking gear, but you should not underestimate the trail. You will need good hiking shoes as parts of the trail (especially the section where the gnomes are) is uneven and rocky.
If you hike with kids, you should bring snacks and enough water in a comfortable day hiking backpack. There are nice spots to sit down and have a snack including a swing with views.
THINGS TO BRING:
- fruit or other snack
- good hiking shoes
Where to stay
The best places to stay when hiking Ruta de Los Duendes in Sierra de Mijas is either Mijas Pueblo or Fuengirola.
In Mijas Pueblo, I love La Posada de Mijas, a charming establishment in the heart of the village offering small apartments with a kitchen or kitchenette so you can prepare your own hiking snack and lunches. See availability here.
Hiking Ruta de Los Duendes (the gnome trail) in Sierra de Mijas
From the trailhead at the quarry, you walk straight up the dirt track with the quarry opening up to your left. After a short walk, you get to a junction with a large pine tree in the middle. There are a total of 4 trails threading out from the pine tree. You need to take the U-turn to the left that slowly winds upwards.
Follow this trail up a few minutes until it turns steep right in a U-turn. You’ll see a trail taking off into the woods to the left in this U-turn with a red/yellow/white marked wooden hiking pole indicating GR-249 Gran Senda de Malaga.
This short trail opens up to views to your left before it takes you straight to a set of concrete stairs. You need to squeeze behind a fence to get onto the steps.
At this point, you’re literally on the edge of the quarry. Continue up the stairs and keep following the trail until you get to a dirt road. Turn left onto the dirt track.
You only follow the dirt track for a short section before you get on a trail on your left.
This trail soon gets a little confusing to follow as it’s not well marked. That said, it takes you just slightly towards the right and crosses the woods upwards. If you look for it, you’ll see a poorly marked trail between the trees.
Once you get out of the woods and up to the top of the hill looking down at the coastal views, you’re at the part of the trail where the gnomes are placed.
This trail goes to the right along a small ridge keeping the epic views of the Mediterranean on your left side. But don’t get too caught up with the views so you miss out on the small gnomes along the trail. There’s also a fun swing with views that you can relax on.
Shortly after the last gnome, you get back on the dirt track. Turn right onto it and just down the hill, when it divides, turn right to loop back to the last place you walked on the track.
Keep walking on the track and you’ll also see that you pass the U-turn where you caught the small trail up towards the concrete stairs on the way up. You’ll soon find yourself in the intersection with the big pine tree. Now turn right to get back to the car.
Reflections on the new gnome trail in Sierra de Mijas
Having hiked in Sierra de Mijas for so many years it was really refreshing with a new hike and attraction in the mountains. Meeting other seasoned local hikers curiously looking for the gnomes too just adds to the adventure.
The trail is easy, though there are a few turns not to miss and the top of the quarry is steep if you go near the edge. If you suffer from vertigo you can most likely do the hike without issues, just stay clear of the quarry edge.
All in all, this is a fun hike to do for the whole family, big and small. Looking for the gnomes and especially with the rumors that there might come more, it means you might discover a new one on your walk!
I’m sure you’ll have a fun adventure. Happy hiking!