The walk of the ziggy zaggy mule track
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This walk, up the east side of the Sierra Alcaparain, was described by a recent Fuegoblanco guest as ‘one of the finest you could ever hope to do’. It covers stunning countryside, with views as far as the sea. It is mostly on easy track or paths, but includes some steep descent. It is either 20 or 24 km with ascent of around 600 or 500m. The high point is 1166m.
Cartografia Militar de España Serie L. Escala 1:50,000 Sheet 1037,1038,1051,1052
Mapa Topográfico Nacional de E Escala 1:25,000 Sheet 1037 4, 1038 3, 1051 2, 1052 1.
Most of the walk is on sheet 1037 /1037 1, but irritatingly the top point is right on the join of the 4 maps.
To get to the start of the walk
The start of the walk is off a laybye on the A357 ( Malaga – Campillos road ) immediately opposite the main turn off to Caratracca. The Campillas / Malaga road sign is built into the laybye. It is possible to drive with care for the first two kilomeetres, but you can only turn onto the track if travelling south, ie from Ardales..
Follow the track from here in the direction of Ardales for 500 m until you come to the three wooden signs, take the track to the left. Continue for 1.5 km until you come to a junction with two other tracks just before a mobile phone mast. The first of these to the right, with a bar across it, is where you will come out on the return walk. If you have driven up the track, park here.
Keep to the main track which bears slightly to the left, past the mobile phone mast. Continue on the track, ignoring all forks to the left. You will pass a stone quarry on the right after 1.5 km, and from there on there are wonderful views over Caratracca. Shortly after, when the track splits, keep to the main track bearing right. The road descends for a while but soon begins to gradually climb .
At around 5km there is a junction. The wooden notice board points to the Puerta Martinez down the left hand fork Take the right hand fork up the hill. The track now starts to climb steeply with views of mountains in front of you, towards the sea on your left, and the village in the valley below. Keep on the track until it begins to level out on the ridge of the mountains. Eventually you will reach a sign board that says " Puerto Alcaparain" .
Shortly after the sign you will see your third white water tank close to a sharp bend to the left. Around 90 metres before you reach this tank you will see two cairns marking a small footpath on your right. If you find yourself going steeply down hill you have gone too far.
Follow the path marked by the cairns for about 200 m on the path, where the left fork heads off towards the crags. Take the less well defined right fork, which shortly gets better defined, and takes you to the east side of the mountain with views over Carratraca village, La Huma, the lakes and Torcal. A further right fork by a rusty white marker links to the beautifully constructed ziggy zaggy mule track which heads back down towards Carratraca.
Folllow the track until you get to a junction. The way straight ahead has a line of stones laid across the entrance to indicate that this is not the way. Here you turn left and continue working your way down the mountain ignoring any minor mule track you might see. The track crosses over the valley and shortly after splits into two well defined paths. Do not take the one on the right which goes up over the ridge, instead go left and continue on this track past a roofless house and shortly after at the next fork turn right. This brings you out at the mobile phone mast you passed on your way up. If you are not parked here, turn left (not the sharp left) and retrace your original path about two kilometers back to the start of the walk.