It’s a lot to expect every ride to take your breath away. But even after 11 years, the rides here still have an uncanny ability to detangle my thoughts and make me brake for a moment, even though I’ve passed the same spot dozens of times before, because it’s just so extraordinary. Mostly it’s the views and tranquility that can still stun a person, and they require some suffering to experience them, but you get to choose how much pain to inflict. You decide how far, how high, and how steep you want to ride; Granada will not disappoint. These 4 short(ish) gravel rides near Granada are meant to do when there’s simply no time to go farther afield or higher up into the mountains.
La Malahá Loop, south of Granada
The easiest of the four rides, this ride follows the dirt roads that flank both the Genil and Dilar rivers until turning south toward La Malahá at Las Gabias. You can start from the parking lot of the Inmaculada hospital and just follow the bike trail south until turning left at the intersection with the Dilar river. Ride alongside the Dilar for 4 km and turn right to skirt Las Gabias and connect with the dirt road that runs parallel to the road to La Malahá. From here it’s a gentle climb until the last 20 meters, where the grade shoots skyward and requires some extra power and technique to clean the climb. Lately there’s been significant progress on a highway project that will eventually connect highway A-44 with towns across the valley. It interrupts the gravel route between Las Gabias and La Malahá but it’s not too much of a nuisance. Drop down into La Malahá on the road and stop for a coffee if you’d like. The route picks up on the other side of town and heads just east of Montevives, where you’ll get an expansive view of the Sierra Nevadas. You’ll pass through highway construction once more before hooking up with the river Dilar to return to the start. This route is a good one for winter because there’s sun exposure the entire route, there’s not a lot of elevation gain (what goes up must come down and that gets mighty chilly), and the snowcapped Sierras aren’t bad to look at. This loop runs counterclockwise.
distance = 53 km/33 mi. elevation gain = 463 m/1,519 ft
Beas Fast Loop
This is a relatively quick ride that heads toward the Sierra Nevadas via the Carretera Sierra Nevada but turns off toward Dúdar. After about 10km of easy climbing on the road, you’ll turn left onto the dirt and keep climbing for another 4km to reach the ridge between Quéntar and Beas de Granada. Ride the ridge for 1km until you reach the road and turn left to descend into Quéntar, then right to return to start the way you came.
Admittedly this has more pavement than you’d probably like, and that’s easy to fix (we’ll update this post to reflect that) but if you only have 90 minutes for a ride that takes some work but is worth it for the views, then this checks those boxes. This loop runs counterclockwise.
distance = 31 km/19 mi. elevation gain = 562 m/1,884 ft
Güéjar Sierra-Argumosa-Quéntar Loop
This ride starts out same as the previous one but continues on toward Pinos Genil instead of turning off to Dúdar. In fact, you’ll want to drop down to the Genil River and ride alongside that instead of taking the road. Once you reach Pinos, go through the village keeping the river on your right, and connect with the main road to Güéjar on the other side of town. Climb for 5km to reach the camping area on the right, turn left to continue climbing another 3km to the highest point of this ride. From here the downhill is well-deserved and it’s even better once the route levels out so that you can admire the viewscape a little instead of keeping your focus locked on the descent. Except for a sharp uphill at around km 16, it’s mostly downhill to return to the start. This loop runs counterclockwise but can be done in either direction.
This ride can be combined with the Beas loop and the Camino de Beas Loop for a little extra riding.
distance = 30km/19 mi. elevation gain = 635 m/2,083 ft
The shortest (and hardest) of 4 short rides near Granada – Camino de Beas-Barranco del Estanque Loop
Easily the most challenging of the 4 short rides near Granada, at about 90% off-road, this is the most gravel-ly ride too. After climbing up toward Llano de la Perdiz, turn down toward the Jesús del Valle abbey. We’ve opted for a stretch of singletrack that connects with the Camino de Beas but avoids the first of five water crossings, which are mostly rideable – it’s just this first one can be deep. Continue on the Camino de Beas until you reach Beas, pass through town to pick up the dirt road on the other side and prepare for a bit of climbing. The uphill sections can be steep but they are short so they don’t last long. Once you reach the top, it’s all downhill until you reach the intersection with the dirt road that will take you back to where you started from. The descent is somewhat steep and technical and might be harder on your hands than anything else since it takes some strength to control your speed here. This is a good ride for summer and early fall because there’s lots of shade along the route. This loop runs clockwise.
distance =24 km/15 mi. elevation gain = 610 m/2,001 ft
Granada’s vastness has been personalized by probably every rider who’s catalogued routes that fit his or her criteria for time, distance, and elevation. There are also other considerations, like where to start from, weather, surface conditions, and where the best post-ride tapas can be found. There is such an abundance of route options here that choosing a route will probably be the most challenging part.