Pinar del Rey (Google Maps: 36.232305,-5.399997) is a suburban park spanning 338 hectares at the heart of the local region. It is nestled between the surrounding hills and the city of San Roque. This nature park can be enjoyed at any time of year and access is free of charge.
This singular wooded beauty spot features a remarkably interesting historical background. The forest dates back to 1800 when the Spanish Navy planted pine tres here to supple timber to build warships. Fortunately for nature lovers, these trees were nver cut down as the combined French and Spanish fleet was defeated in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 and Spain ceased to be the world's first naval power. It was the Spanish monarch Ferdinand IV who donated this area to the City of Gibraltar in 1310.
The woods are divided into two main parts, the southern zone is where there are generally more visitors and the wilder northern zone which is out of bounds for motor vehicles. The southern zone includes the Recreational Area with picnic and barbecue facilities, the Alhaja stream and the Nature Centre. In contrast, the northern zone offers ramblers two options: The Tajo del Pajarraco (Big Ugly Bird Gorge) and Cerro del Águila (Eagle's Hill) nature trails, where the old Alcaidesa safari park can often be observed at the gorge.
Upon entering Pinar del Rey through the main access gate, you will come across the Alhaja Drinking Fountain, a very popular spring amongst the people of San Roque and visitors from the Gibraltar area.
The Nature Center, run by San Roque Borough Council, includes an information point, a botanical garden with a wide variety of flora from this eco-system. In fact, the Nature Centre has been awarded Blue Flag status.
You can enjoy a stroll or go on a bike ride along the Alhaja stream nature trail, which follows the river course and features some of the most exuberant vegetation in the park. This nature trail is one of the most beautiful routes among the four nature trails available within the park.
The environmental guides at the information centre can offer you full details about the other three nature trails: Big Ugly Bird Gorge, Eagle’s Hill and Pinar del Rey.
The two most demanding nature trails are Eagle's Hill (medium to high difficulty level) and Big Ugly Bird Gorge (medium difficulty). However, the circular route around Pinar del Rey is suitable for all, especially less active individuals, and runs through the lower part of the park.