For anyone who likes a good hike the walk from Trevelez to Siete Lagunas is an excellent choice. The Siete Lagunas (seven lakes) lie at 2900m altitude in the Sierra Nevada, between the summits of Alcazaba (3360m) and Mulhacen (3479m), the latter of which is the highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada and the second highest in Spain.
Trevelez village is at 1500m altitude so there is a significant altitude gain on this hike. The trail is signposted from the village and marked along the way with yellow paint marks and occasional signposts.
After leaving Trevelez, the path initially runs parallel to the Rio Trevelez and follows narrow paths which pass farms higher up in the valley. It then steepens near a pine forest before emerging onto a flat area at an abandoned farm, Cortijo la Campinuela after about 2.5 hours hiking.
The path continues climbing gradually but steadily until you reach Chorreras Negras at about 2700 m altitude. The final section is a steep climb up the side of a waterfall before you emerge on to an open area containing the largest of the Siete Lagunas.
The Siete Lagunas is a good place for a break and for lunch or even to camp if you have gear with you. If you've left from Trevelez early enough it is possible to reach the summit of Mulhacen or Alcazaba and get back in one day. We had planned to climb Mulhacen the following day from Capiliera so we were happy enough to stop at Siete Lagunas. We were even lucky enough to spot a herd of Ibex in the Lagunas area.
The scenery was great on this trail, though the weather was mixed for our hike with occasional good views when the clouds broke. The path was very quiet; we met few hikers along the way. From Trevelez to Siete Lagunas took about 4 hrs 15 minutes, while the return journey was about 2 hours.
The three districts in Trevelez are separated by 150metres in height making it a tough walk to the highest point in the village, especially if your hotel is in the lower district.
Just above the highest district - Barrio Alto - there is a nice mirador offering great views of the town and the surrounding area. Follow the path up to the top of the town, then take the steep track above the built up area to the mirador. There is an information board at the viewpoint with information about the town and about what you can see from the mirador.
For any visitor to Trevelez, a visit to Meson La Fragua, a restaurant in the Barrio Medio district of the village, is highly recommended.
The food in Meson la Fragua was so good that we ate here on all 3 nights of our stay in Trevelez. The restaurant menu contains a number of local specialities, many of which we had never heard of. Despite speaking good Spanish, we needed to see the English menu to understand some of the dishes as the names are probably recognisable to locals from the surrounding area.
There is a good range of starters on the menu - these were reasonably expensive though worth the cost. Most evenings we shared a starter such as a plate of local cheese or the excellent local ham or something like Gazpacho, the famous Andulacian soup.
My favourite of the main courses was the leg of lamb - possibly the nicest lamb I've ever tasted. We had a bottle of house wine with each meal, which was very good, despite costing less than our main course or starters.
The service was excellent every evening. On our third night the waitress brought us a complimentary drink after our meal.
From Trevelez we made a trip to Capileira, another village in the Sierra Nevada, one valley to the west. It took about 30 minutes to reach Capileira by car, though we didn't stop long in the village as we planned to climb Mulhacen, at 3479m the highest mountain in the Sierra Nevada.
From Capileira a road winds 13km into the hills to reach Hoya del Portillo, a starting point for the Mulhacen hike. The road does continue past Hoya del Portillo, reaching almost all the way to the summit, but it's closed to traffic beyond this point.
Unfortunately the weather had turned poor by the time we started the hike and there was to be no let up throughout the day. We hiked for about an hour and a half along the track until we'd reached about 2550 metres altitude before deciding to turn back. By this stage we were both completely soaked and it was no fun trying to walk in heavy rain into a strong wind.
As we were walking around the Siete Lagunas we spotted what we at first thought was a dog but which on closer inspection turned out to be an Ibex, an animal which I'd never seen before but which is quite common in the Sierra Nevada.
We tried to get closer for a photo but as we approached the Ibex galloped away. We had only seen one up to this moment, but there was actually a group of 6 or 7 which all moved together. They moved very fast over the mountainous terrain, but stopped to graze shortly after. They appeared fairly indifferent to our presence though we didn't want to get too close and risk scaring them. We saw more Ibex on the hike back to Trevelez, but again it was only a fleeting glimpse before they scampered.
According to the Andalucian authorities, Trevelez is the highest (inhabited) village in Europe. Trevelez is a place I have taken visitors to. Perhaps the highest inhabited village in Spain (Iberian Peninsular) but the claim for the highest in Europe appears entirely false. The village lies on the southern side of the Sierra Nevada in the ´Alpujarras´.
Now, Europe could either be the European Community or the European Continent. Other contenders for the title include Saint-Véran in the French Alps, Trepalle in Italy, Juf in Switzerland and Ushguli in Georgia.
I would discount Ushguli as you would not get to many Europeans to concede that Georgia was in any way connected with Europe, lying as it does between Russia, Iran and Turkey (give or take Armenia and Azerbajan). So we´ll consign it to Eurasia and exclude it from the competition (though at 2,200 metres it´s a goodie).
Saint-Véran in the French Alps - 2,042 metres (6677 feet)
Trepalle in Italy - 2,069 m. at the parish church, with the village stretching up to the Passo d'Eira, at 2,209 m
Juf in Switzerland - 2126 m
Switzerland is, one should note, part of Europe´s land mass but is outside of the European community and so, for the community Trepalle would seem to be the most likely candidate, and even so for the continent, excepting arguments over whether one chooses the Parish Church in Trepalle as the marker or it´s highest point.
France, of course, loses out by a whisker, as is quite normal and Spain joins the list of unrealistic pretenders with Trevelez being a mere 1475 metres (4840 feet) and one might suggest the next holiday destination for the Andalucian tourist authorities as Fantasy Island :)
From my brief excursions Trevelez certainly does not have the appearance of a regular tourist trap, such as nearby Pampaneira, but it is a gateway to explorable areas of Sierra Nevada, definitely not for the faint hearted :)