With a total surface area of nearly 210,000ha and covering almost a fifth of Jaen province, the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas National Park is Spain’s largest protected area and one of its most extensive forested zones. In eastern Jaen province in Andalucia, it connects the Sierra Morena and the Subbética mountain ranges. The highest peak in the park is Pico Empanada at 2,107m and all of the park is higher than 600m.  Given its southern position it might be surprising that this gives it a refreshing feel with snow common in the winter and temperatures much lower than you might expect.

It is a haven for wildlife with many red deer which you are likely to spot early in the morning or deep in the forest if you venture that far.  Wild boar are prevalent and in one or two places they are “fed” by local restaurateurs at certain times of the day guaranteeing sightings.

The walks are spectacular and give you dramatic views as far as the Sierra Nevada which when snow clad are easily visible.  Looking in this direction you are sure to see some of the 6.5 million olive trees that adorn Jaen province.  There are fewer walks than you might expect for such a vast area but some of the engineered paths bring joy to the heart and a relief to the lungs and legs.  There is accommodation all through the park – some expensive – but Cazorla town and its outlier of La Iruela have the greatest range and variety.