Our hike started from the town of Montanejos and followed the GR7 before we separated and continued following the Bojera trail around the Barranco Maimona ravine. The Bojera trail follows the box valley on either side with steep ascents and descents to cross the river that cuts through the canyon. We ended the trip by swimming in the natural hot springs of Fuente de los Baños which flow into the Mijares river.
We arrived at Montanejos and walked up through the town to the start of the GR7 trail. The trail was mainly rocks and loose stones, in many places it was only wide enough to walk in single file and occasionally we had to stop to let other hikers pass. The trail lead steeply upwards and varied between walking through trees and sheer edges with afforded us great views of the town and Barranco Maimona. We could see the rock wall on the other side of the canyon which is where we were heading, although from our vantage point the way to get there was not clear.
We walked deep into the valley, following the path until we reached a crossroads. Here we split from the GR7 and continued on the Bojera trail. Now we were heading downwards towards the river. Here the terrain changed to earth and dirt rather than stones as we descended through the forest and down the zig-zagging path.
We reached the river and had to cross it. Fortunately this was easy to do using the rocks as stepping stones. From the valley floor we could appreciate the height of the rock faces and how far both up and down we had come. The river roughly marked the centre of the valley so it was time to start heading up the other side of the ravine.
We continued heading steadily upwards, occasionally climbing over or under fallen trees. We were mainly walking through forest following the ravine round. Eventually the forest changed to rocks and we were walked along the arete to the end of the rock wall.
Lunch was on this pinnacle which afforded us stunning views in all directions. From here- we could see a large part of the route we had taken on the other side of the Barranco Maimona, our destination of Fuente al Baños and the the bottom of the valley. We were lucky enough to witness vultures riding the wind currents and circling below us. One flew close enough that we could see its individual feathers and also appreciate how big they are!
As nice as it would have been to enjoy the sun and watch the birds all day, after lunch it was time to head down towards Fuente de los Baños. This steep path down from the outcrop returned to the loose rocks and dust and zig-zagged round many tight corners. Coming down we saw a bambi (bambi being the international word for deer) that seemed amused that we were having trouble getting good footing at time.
The trail went all the way down to the road and this marked the end of the Bojera Trail, but not the end of our trip. We walked a short distance along the road to Fuente de los Baños.
The Fuente itself runs into a giant natural pool surrounded by high cliff faces either side. The crystal clear water is a balmy 21 degrees as it is heated by natural hot springs. Legend says that the water is so good that the Moorish king Zayd Abu Zayd built a bathhouse here so the women of his harem could maintain their youth and beauty. The river bed is mainly stones and gravel and most of the pool is shallow enough to stand up in. It is possible to swim further into the canyon where there is a small cave and waterfall to see. The blue skies, high cliffs and warm water made it easy to forget it was the middle of January.
There are two ways to get back to Montanejos from the Fuente, the first is to take the road but the second if the far more pleasant board walk along the river. This path lead lead us past bridges and provided many photo opportunities of the crystal clear river – no filter required.
The hike provided a fantastic range of trails and scenery. The walk up and down were certainly worth it to appreciate the scale and beauty of of the valley. The vultures were and added bonus as it’s not often you can look down on birds. The swimming at the end was a wonderful way to relax after a quite strenuous hike and going in January meant we avoided the crowds that flock to the area in the summer months.