National Park Picos de los Europa is definitely a must – visit for hiking lovers! Spread across the provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and León, Picos dellos Europa National Park might very well be Spain’s best kept secret. It is the least known national park of Spain and perhaps the most underrated area of the country. I traveled through this national park for over a month and fell in love with its awe-inspiring rockmassifs, rugged peaks and deep ravines. It is a pure and unbridled area that will leave you breathless at every turn. I did some of my best hiking in this national park and thoroughly enjoyed every mindblowing trail. It can be a challenge to decide on which trails to hike in an unfamiliar area so let me make that easier for you! Below you’ll find my pick of the five best trails I did.
Pasá del Picayo
You’ll find this hike in the province of Asturia. Starting from the tiny alpine town San Estéaban, this hike will seriously kick your butt! The trail will take you over rugged mountains, nervewrecking drop-offs and technical patchways to Tresviso. This hike was definitely one of the more technical trails I have done in the Picos. The majority of the trail would probably qualify as a via ferrata and we had to climb for quite a bit. However, it made for a sensational adventure and the views will make you forget the fact you can’t feel your legs anymore and the burning sweat in your eyes has left you somewhat blind.
How to get there. The hike starts in San Esteban.
Level: Hard. Even though the distance to Tresviso is just 6,7km one way, you’ll ascend around 700hm. On top of that the trail itself is very technical and demanding.
Ruta del Cares
One of the most famous hikes of this national park is the Ruta del Cares; a stunning trail that has been repeatedly mentioned as one of Spains most beautiful hikes. So of course we went to check it out and decide for ourselves! The ruta del Cares meanders alogside the impressive Rio del Cares; a powerful river surrounded by impressive limestone massifs. The trail is often referred to as ‘The divine gorge’ and is considered one of Spains most beautiful sites. The trail will take you over rugged peaks, breathtaking caves and nervewrecking drop-offs. The trail is mostly carved out of the rocks and makes for a spectacular hike.
How to get there: You’ll find this famous trail in the north of the national park, running between two little alpine villages; Cain and Poncebos. You can access the hike from either one, depending on your preferences. However, there are some advantages to starting the hike in Cain. Because even though the trail isn’t too difficult, it is fairly long. So if you are looking for a shorter hike and want to make sure you don’t miss out on the most beautiful part you should definitely start the trail in Cain. This part of the trail is without a doubt the most beautiful and adventurous.
Level: Medium. The trail is 12km one way but mostly flat and is therefor a family friendly experience. Even though the hike isn’t all too difficult, the distance still makes for a challenge. It took me almost 7 hours to complete the entire hike.
Covadonga lakes circular route
The Covadonga lakes are probably another signature site of the picos. Thousands of people come to visit the lakes of Covadonga every year and having been there I truly understand why. Deep into the mountains of Covadonga you’ll find two cristalclear mountainlakes; lake Enol and lake Ercina. The awe-inspiring backdrop of snowcapped mountains makes for an spectacular reflection in the water and a stunning environment for several beautiful hikes. I hikes several trails in the area but I found the circular route around the lakes to be the most memorable one.
How to get there: If you take the main road from Covadonga you can just follow the signs to the lakes. The area was obviously built for an influx of tourists because everything is very well marked. There is plenty of parking space near the lakes. However, if you want to visit the lakes in the high season I’d recommend to leave early. The route starts from the parking place near the lakes.
Level: Easy. The loop is around 5km and will take you around two hours to complete. The trail is mostly flat and very family friendly.
Ruta de le Reconquista
This is actually a 4 day trek through the picos. However, it is also very possible to make several daytrips out of it, like I did. This multiple day trek was designed to take you through the most beautiful parts of the national park and over the three major massifs. The entire trail is almost 60km with 2873hm and will take you around 4 days to complete. I did several parts of it and I must admit that it was well worth the effort. The hike to Bulnes from Poncebos is highly recommended!
How to get there. The entire thruhike runs from Poncebos to Cosgaya and is accessible at many places in between However, I left the van at the Poncebos parking and hiked the first part of the trail from there.
Level. Hard. The entire trail is 60km but you can easily hike separate parts of the trail and turn them into dayhikes. The trail will take you deep into the mountains over rugged terrain. I did several short hikes but they all kicked my butt. Well worth the effort though!
Vega de Liordes
This trail starts at the floor of the valley at the teleferico and will take you all the way up into the majestic cirque. When I hiked this trail in may there was still plenty of snow and the views were just out of this world. The trail will take you through alpine forests, panoramic vistas and spectacular mountain scenery. For the best experience it is recommended to do this tour circulate clockwise.
How to get there. The trail starts at the cable cars in Fuente Dé. If you follow the main road from Potes to Fuente Dé you will automatically arrive at the teleferico. This is the end of the road and the starts of many beautiful trails.
Level. Hard. The route is 11km and will take you around 6 hours to complete. This is mostly due to the fact that you gain around 1000m in elevation and that the trail will take you over pretty rugged terrain.
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