Vacation this winter
in a warm, sunny, snow-free
We're inviting a few, keen hikers to join us this winter for 10 days in the mountains along the east coast of Spain.
The group will be small (nine people max), screened by us for on-trail compatibility. All will be accomplished, athletic, ambitious, adventurous.
If you’re among them, you’ll enjoy an affordable yet luxurious, hiking-focused vacation. You’ll capitalize on the five months of reconnaissance we did in this exotic, enthralling region, and the two, successful trips we previously led here. You’ll discover a warm, sunny, snow-free, winter-hiking haven.
We’ll base ourselves in two, optimal locations within the Costa Blanca mountains: a small, contemporary hotel perched on the edge of a canyon, and a lovingly-renovated historic finca (country estate). Both are ringed by craggy, limestone mountains. The Mediterranean Sea spans the horizon-view of both properties.
Together we’ll approach the hiking the way friends always do, with someone (in this case, us—Kathy & Craig) offering advice based on knowledge of the area. We won’t be guiding. Instead, think of us as your scouts.
Each day, we’ll follow ancient, sinuous trails rising through olive groves into limestone massifs where craggy peaks and airy ridges overlook the Mediterranean Sea. We’ll walk through old-world villages seemingly pinned to the earth by their dominating church towers. Each evening, we’ll return to the comfort of our private rooms.
7 premier trails, 9 hikers, 10 days
We’ll also explore the local cuisine. Breakfasts might include tortillas (Spanish omelettes), oven-hot baked breads, and orange juice fresh from a local grove. Dinners—accompanied, of course, by Spanish wines—will be traditional fare such as paella (a rice-and-seafood dish), pinchitos (spiced, skewered, brazed meat), fabada asturiana (bean stew), or tapas (varied appetizers), or sea bass.
We’ll all drive our own rental cars—in caravan—to and from each trailhead. We’ll make on-trail decisions together. In restaurants, you can order as you please from the menu. Or you can dine in restaurants other than those we scouted and recommend.
Unlike guided hiking, with its inherent restrictions, handholding, and invisibly inflated prices (tour companies profit by charging you far more than they pay—for everything), the trip with us will be financially transparent. You’ll see the actual costs, and that’s all you’ll pay. This makes our Spanish coastal-ranges hiking vacation as inexpensive as possible.
Your one additional investment will be $1200 USD per person for our counsel and organization. Throughout the journey, you'll benefit from our knowledge—painstakingly acquired on numerous, lengthy, winter odysseys in the Spanish coastal ranges.
Early on, we realized other serious hikers would be thrilled here—but only if they could devote weeks to rigorous exploration. So we did it for you. We sampled accommodations and restaurants, poured over maps, scoured three deficient guidebooks, talked and hiked with locals, drove and re-drove the roads, scrutinized all the possible routes, chose the optimal trails, then re-hiked them repeatedly to refine them.
For 25 years we’ve been writing and publishing, motivated by a desire to share with others the joy, wonder, and exhilaration we’ve found in wild places. Our motivation now is to share it with you in person.
10-day itinerary: February 10 - 20
Day One — Monday, Feb 10
• Pick up your rental car at Valencia airport. Drive 2 hours to our hotel in the mountains inland from Denia.
•. Arrive at our hotel perched on the edge of a spectacular canyon.
• Lunch is available at the hotel restaurant until 2 pm.
• Stretch our legs on the secluded, one-lane road leading 2 km through olive groves to a neighbouring village.
•. Dinner at a quaint, authentic, nearby restaurant. You can expect superb quality, generous portions, and excellent value on this and every other evening we dine together.
Day Two — Tuesday, Feb 11
Hike a 4.5-hour loop (distance 14 km, elevation gain 1030 m) starting in the neighboring village. We’ll follow a beautifully-engineered Mozarabic (Moorish) trail constructed 500 years ago. It drops into the barranc (canyon) immediately below our hotel. The fascinating loop entails three, approximately 330-meter descents and ascents. This canyon was the last Moorish stronghold in Spain before their expulsion. After driving back to our hotel, we’ll relax, then drive 15 minutes to dine in a nearby village.
Day Three — Wednesday, Feb 12
Drive about 45 minutes to a trailhead. Hike a 4-hour loop (distance 12.5 km, elevation gain 540 m). Starting above a tiny, picturesque village, we’ll ascend an ancient trail, rising onto an airy, panoramic ridge. After dropping through the upper reaches of a canyon, we’ll cross another ridge, then loop back—descending atop stone-walled terraces—to our trailhead. After resting at our hotel, we’ll have a delicious dinner at a village about 15 minutes’ drive away.
Day Four — Thursday, Feb 13
Drive about 15 minutes to a trailhead. Hike a 6-hour loop (distance 14 km, elevation gain 720 m). With your mountain legs under you once again, you’re ready for our trip’s most challenging and exhilarating hike. We worked through this barranc (canyon) five times, gradually piecing together the optimal route, so we can share it with you. It begins on a well-engineered trail ascending at a comfortably efficient grade. After surmounting a ridge, we’ll veer onto a minor but adequate route traversing the barranc wall. The vista extends beyond the coastal plain, over the blue vastness of the Mediterranean. But immediately across the abyss, it appears only a cabra (ibex) could negotiate the sheer, 300-meter cliffs ahead. Deep within the barranc, however, we’ll tag onto an ingenious route and complete a remarkable loop. That evening at our hotel, we’ll celebrate our accomplishment over a traditional, Spanish dinner.
Day Five — Friday, Feb 14
Relax and recharge after yesterday’s vigorous accomplishment. Sleep late, lounge, and marvel at the hotel's dazzling, 360° scenery. Before noon, we’ll begin a gorgeous, 40-minute drive: over Coll de Rates: “The Switzerland of Costa Blanca.” Shortly past Tarbena, we’ll arrive at a remarkable country inn—Can Sueño—where we’ll have a delectable lunch. Patrons and reviewers have praised this restaurant as one of Spain’s culinary treasures. Our previous groups loved it.
Day Six — Saturday, Feb 15
Drive an hour through countryside, then up a winding mountain road, to a trailhead. Hike a 4-hour loop (distance 8.5 km, elevation gain 315 m). The mountain we’ll walk around is a regional landmark, visible from far away throughout the Costa Blanca. Isolated from the main range, it rises almost directly from the sea. An exciting trail contours around the mountain’s midriff, high enough to offer constant, expansive views. That evening, in the valley below our hotel, we’ll dine at an intimate restaurant enthusiastically recommended to us by long-time residents.
Day Seven — Sunday, Feb 16
Leave our hotel on foot, and ascend to the nearby ridgecrest. Hike a 4.5-hour loop (distance 13.5 km, elevation gain 560 m). As we leave the houses and roads behind, path becomes trail, walk becomes hike. The ridge we’ll soon be atop is named after a mystical, green knight who was supposed to lead the Moors to victory but failed to materialize. The Moors were defeated here by the Christians. Upon gaining the ridgecrest, we’ll see villages far below, the Barranc del Infierno even farther below, and the Mediterranean extending to the horizon. We’ll stride the crest all the way to where a road nips over a col. There’s a popular restaurant here, and we’ll take advantage of it.mIf the weather is fine, we’ll enjoy our lunch al fresco. When we resume hiking, we’ll follow a Mozarabic trail dropping through terraced almond orchards, perhaps bright with white blossoms. The descent ends in the village immediately below our hotel. Dinner awaits us at a superb, East Indian restaurant in a nearby town.
Day Eight — Monday, Feb 17
Drive 1.5 hours west to the hilltop town of Bocairent, one of the most picturesque in Valencia province. We’ll visit Moorish caves and have a walking tour of what was a thriving silk-industry center from the 12th to the 16th century. After lunch at an atmospheric restaurant, we’ll drive 1.5 hours over the mountains to our guest house near the Costa Blanca's highest mountains. En route, we’ll stop to stretch our legs in an isolated village. We’ll prepare a simple dinner in our casa rural's common kitchen. Afterward, we can relax on the terrace and gaze at the sea.
Day Nine — Tuesday, Feb 18
Drive about 20 minutes a mountainside font where, for centuries, locals have collected spring water. Hike a 5-hour loop (distance 12 km, elevation gain 700 m). After ascending through terraces, we’ll cruise a ridgecrest for about 90 minutes with an ever-expanding view of the sea. This mountain-sea juxtaposition is the glory of the Costa Blanca mountains.
Day Ten — Wednesday, Feb 19
Drive about 30 minutes to a trailhead. Depending on our group's preferences and energy level, we'll choose from several possible trails. Perhaps hike a 4.5-hour loop (distance 12 km, elevation gain 550 m). Our final dinner together will be at a charming, generously-priced local restaurant.
Day Eleven — Thursday, Feb 20
Guests depart for Valencia to fly home, or continue exploring Spain on their own. We recommend driving 4.5 hours southwest to visit Granada and an astonishing Moorish palace: the Alhambra.