The Cascada de la Cimbarra was said to be one of the top waterfalls in the Andalucía (or Andalusia; pronounced "ahn-dah-loo-SEE-ah") region of Spain (though it was actually quite close to the Castilla-La Mancha border). During our visit, the falls was struggling to flow, but given the fact that it had been hot and dry in this region of Spain for at least over a month, perhaps the fact that it still had somewhat satisfactory flow (as you can see in the photo at the top of this page) was a testament to its staying power. Nevertheless, even despite its struggling flow, the falls was popular enough that we had encountered dozens of people during our visit here.
From the car park (see directions below), we followed a well-signed loop trail heading counterclockwise. The trail headed right towards the rim of the gorge carved out by the Río Guarrizas before following its contours in the downstream direction. While on this stretch of the trail, Julie and Tahia had noticed that there was a tortoise sunbathing next to the trail (one of the benefits of getting a reasonably early start). Eventually, the trail would curve around one side inlet before it started to descend towards a junction.
At this junction, we first went right to continue the descent down a couple of switchbacks. This eventually descended through the ruins of an old mill (called El Molino de la Cimbarra) where there were still walls standing as well as a couple of circular mortars where I'd imagine local nuts could be ground into powder. The trail continued to descend deeper into the gorge through it started to became a little bit rough and less defined in spots. But it wasn't much later until we found ourselves right in front of the impressive Cascada de la Cimbarra at its base.
From this perspective, we could see that there was a little bit of an alcove behind the waterfall. Moreover, it appeared that with a little climbing, it was possible to take an informal trail-of-use from the mill along the cliffs towards the alcove for that unusual back-of-the-waterfall experience. We didn't do that detour, and given the apparent exposure to dropoffs, it seemed like it would be prudent to be very careful if one were to be so inclined to do this.
When we had our fill of the base of the falls (voices seemed to echo down here), we then climbed back up to the junction, then continued the ascent a short distance further before reaching the Mirador de Cascada de la Cimbarra. From up at this sloping railed overlook, we were able to look right down at the waterfall itself as well as its surrounding gorge contours. The overlook up here was wide and full of open space (i.e. it was also very exposed to the hot sun). And a short distance beyond this overlook, there was a signposted trail pointing to a spur leading to the Mirador de Desfiladero, which was actually a very visible fold in the rock layer hinting at the violent forces that gave rise to this gorge in the first place.
Although the trail map said that the loop hike could continue back to the trailhead from the junction of the Desfiladero spur and the Mirador de la Cimbarra, there was actually another trail hugging the other side of the rim of a different gorge. It turned out that this trail could've easily led us far away and downhill towards the Sendero del Arroyo de Martín Pérez, and it almost did that to us (as we thought we were looping back to the car park). Fortunately, we caught our mistake and wound up going back the way we came instead of taking our chances and trying to find the trail that would have completed the loop (it turned out that there was indeed a signposted trail between the false trail and the way we came, but we stuck with what we knew anyways).
So overall, we spent about two hours away from the vehicle. When we returned, the trailhead was full of cars (when we were the only ones here at the start at around 10:40am). So that attested to this waterfall's popularity. Anyways, the signage here said the loop trail was 1.2km and it should've only taken 30 minutes with low difficulty. So that should give you an idea of how much time to budget, especially if you want to linger here and not be in a rush.
For our Cascada de la Cimbarra excursion, we based ourselves in the town of Úbeda (just under 2 hours drive away), which was said to be a UNESCO World Heritage town thanks to old buildings like this
Not to be outdone, Baeza (like a sister town to Úbeda) was also a UNESCO World Heritage town for its historical structures like those around Plaza de Santa María shown here
Roughly a 2.5-hour drive west of Úbeda was the city of Córdoba, which featured the amazing Mezquita (shown here). This strange blend of Muslim and Catholic architecture was on full display here
Further north of the turnoff for Aldeaquemada along a combination of the E-5 and CM-42 was the town of Consuegra, where there were windmills that seemed like they were straight out of Don Quijote
Looking back on the unpaved road we took to get from Aldeaquemada to the trailhead for Cascada de la Cimbarra
Knowing that it was going to be a hot day, we made sure to pick a shady spot (even when we'd return from the hike). We arrived early enough in the day to have our choice of where to park at this car park
Julie and Tahia on the well-defined trail to reach the Cascada de la Cimbarra as we were approaching the rim of the deep gorge
Now the trail was skirting the rim of the gorge
This was the tortoise that both Julie and Tahia spotted alongside the trail when it was still hugging the rim. It was a good thing that we got here early because when we came back, the tortoise had already moved on
The waterfall trail hugged the contours of this side gorge as it started to make its descent around its head
As the trail continued to descend in the shade, we were about to approach a junction where going right would lead to the base of the Cascada de la Cimbarra while going left would climb up to its mirador
We first descended the trail on the right to access the base of the waterfall
We eventually found ourselves surrounded by these walls, which apparently belonged to what was once the Molino de Cimbarra (or the Cimbarra Mill)
We passed by a couple of these circular mortars, which I believed were used to grind nuts or grains into powder or flour
The trail to the base of the waterfall became a bit rougher and less defined the further down we went
At the base of the Cascada de la Cimbarra and its plunge pool. Notice the ledge at the base of the upper tier, which appeared to be where some intrepid folks were able to climb up to in order to get behind the waterfall
As we headed back up to rejoin the main trail to the mirador, we managed to get a different perspective of the old mill
Julie and Tahia leaving the shade and continuing the hot climb up to the mirador
Contextual look at the slanted hard rock layer giving rise to the Cascada de la Cimbarra seen from its mirador
Looking further up the trail beyond the mirador towards a sign pointing the way to the Mirador de Desfiladero, which was a wrinkle in the hard rock layer that gave rise to the main waterfall further upstream
Julie and Tahia heading to a different mirador overlooking a different gorge. We almost made the mistake of continuing on the trail past this point thinking it would wrap up the loop back to the trailhead when in fact it was descending further into the gorge towards the Sendero del Arroyo de Martín Pérez
We noticed quite a few of these lizards while doing the Cascada de la Cimbarra hike, which attested to how hot and dry this area was during our visit
From Úbeda, we drove west on the N-322 for about 36km to its junction with the A-44 autovía. We then headed north on the A-44 for about 3km before it merged with the A-4 autovía (Autovía del Sur). We would follow the A-4 for the next 51km until we exited onto the A-6200 road heading towards Aldeaquemada. Note that this turnoff was within the park boundaries of the Parque Natural de Despeñaperros.
Once we got off the autovía, we then followed the A-6200 eastwards as it climbed up a series of switchbacks and blind turns until it summitted the mountain then continued going east along the similarly narrow but more straightened out road towards the town of Aldeaquemada (some 23km later). Once we were in the town, there were signs directing us to head south (turning right) on the Prolongación de Avenida Andalucía. We then followed this road and the signposts for the Cascada de la Cimbarra for about 2.3km (the road became unpaved once it left the town) before reaching the trailhead near the summit of a some hill.
This drive took us just under two hours as most of the time on the road was spent navigating the narrow and twisty confines of the A-6200 between the A-4 autovía and the town of Aldeaquemada.
For some additional context, Úbeda was 10km (under 30 minutes drive) east of Baeza, 146km (90 minutes drive) north of Granada, 150km (over 90 minutes drive) east of Córdoba, 281km (about 3 hours drive) east of Sevilla, and 315km (over 3 hours drive) south of Madrid.
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