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The Valley of the Age-Old Yew Trees

Arroyo Frío

Explore the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. Surround yourself with nature at the source of the Guadalquivir River, and stroll through the yew forest of the Cañada de las Fuentes, accompanied by the oldest trees in Spain.

The source of the "Río Grande”, in Arabic: Guadalquivir.

Andalusia is so much more than tapas, sun and the beach. The Sierra de Cazorla, in the province of Jaén, is a good example of the diversity of landscapes that is evident in the territory of Andalusia. It is one of the most spectacular mountain areas in the region, and its colossal range of mountains is home to more than 200 species of animals and over 2,300 plants.

These mountains also host the source of the Guadalquivir, which can be visited by making an excursion which is suitable for everyone. First you must reach the Puente de las Herrerías. Once there, follow a dirt track which is suitable for hiking and for vehicles (except motorbikes)

There is a sign denoting the official source of the river at the side of this same path, down a stone stairway. The sign is engraved with a poem by the Álvarez Quintero brothers. However, the actual source of the river is in a ravine called theCañada de las Fuentes, at the confluence of a number streams from the nearby mountains.

Curious fact: along the way it is easy to come across a group of foxes. The animals are so used to the presence of humans that they wait for them on the pathway, hoping to be fed.

The trail among the oldest trees in Spain and Europe.

After seeing the source of the "Río Grande”, the name given by the Moors gave him, the journey continues. Following the track, a few minutes later you'll come to a turn-off to the majestic trail of the Age-Old Yew Trees.

The trail gives you the chance to see one of the best-preserved ecosystems in Andalusia. It trail is short and quite easy to handle, a walk of barely half an hour on foot (and no steep slopes). All along the route and at its end there are magnificent signs of the emblem of the flora of the Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y las Villas: the yew tree. And not just any yew trees, but trees which are over 1,000 years old.

The trail starts in a shady area, where the temperature is cool and pleasant. The pine forest grows strongly and individual black pines and hawthorns easily reach eight metres in height. In this area, if you pay attention and are patient, you'll occasionally come across Iberian wild goats or deer, the two great herbivores which inhabit this area.

On the last part of the trail, the pine forest becomes more dense and the trail becomes a narrow pathway. This is where you'll find the yew trees. With impressive pyramidal trunks, the yew tree can reach heights of up to twenty metres. And there's still one more surprise. Look carefully. One of the solitary yew trees is twice the size of the others. This one is 2,000 years old, the oldest in Europe and its huge trunk is really something to see. Among the rocks in the mountains it has found the best place to grow without stopping for two millennia.

Curious fact: in autumn, if you're really lucky because it happens every six or seven years, you may get to see the fruit of the yew tree, the only part of the tree that is not poisonous.

Not to be missed: an unforgettable sunset over a sea of olive trees.

Once you're back, Cazorla is a town where it is worthwhile stopping over for a while. Built at the start of the mountain range that gives it its name, you get the chance to enjoy a sunset over the immense sea of Jaén olive trees. An incredible spectacle of reddish tones.

The Valley of the Age-Old Yew Trees
Cazorla, Quesada (Jaén)