Spain. Images are probably already popping up. Beaches. Tapas. Wine. It is hard to think of Spain without imagining warm nights sipping a cool Verdejo, salt spray on bronze-toasted skin or thinly-sliced jamon on fresh white bread.

However, a mere 30 minutes outside of Sevilla you’ll find a luscious emerald green landscape: Las Doblas, an overgrown haven in the municipality of Sanlúcar la Mayor. It is unlike anything you would expect to see in the dry, arid and steaming hot region of Andalucía. But a river can work magic!

Las Doblas was once nothing more than an abandoned gravel pit. There is no doubt that the plan to turn it into something more was inspired by its ideal location along the Rio Guadiamar. What began as an artificial lake soon blossomed into a very real riverside woodland, the river and the marshy ground providing the perfect fodder for a variety of trees and shrubs ranging from poplars to ash to elms to oleander. It’s a far cry from the pebbly coasts of the Mediterranean!

Las Doblas offers a 70-kilometer trail ideally suited for biking, horseback riding or simply strolling. This trail crosses a lengthy wooden footbridge traversing the lake and sinuously navigating the abundant vegetation. Further along, it winds its ways in and out of towns and villages passing by antiquated roman baths and medieval churches. It is the perfect path for discovering the diversity of southern Spain’s hidden corners.

The next time you’re in Spain, remember that there’s much more to explore than a cold drink in a crowded plaza. Let the beauty of Spain’s lesser-known secret treasures whisk you away to tranquility and blissful solitude.