Duraznero crater on the Volcano Trail in La Palma, Canary Islands

The Volcano Trail

La Palma

La Palma

Trekking among volcanoes on the island of La Palma

In the south of the island of La Palma (Canary Islands) you can walk this exciting trail in Cumbre Vieja Natural Park. Although it’s fairly challenging, it’s worth doing for the close-up views of the lunar landscapes created by long-extinct volcanic craters. As well as several volcanoes, you’ll see the coasts, the sea of clouds, the imposing Taburiente Caldera, the neighbouring island of Tenerife, and with a little luck, native wildlife like rooks and kestrels.

Welcome to the Beautiful Island

La Palma, known as the Beautiful Island, really is a paradise for hikers. It boasts magical forests and in the centre, the imposing Taburiente caldera, over eight kilometres in diameter.  Although this volcanic island was originally formed by the caldera itself, this trail is designed to show how La Palma has changed with the volcanic eruptions of the last 500 years, most recently in 1971. All along the way, you’ll see the reds and blacks of the volcanoes contrasting with the green pine trees.

A challenging first part with stunning views

The ideal start is at the visitors’ centre at El Pilar, which explains the trail. The path begins in a landscape of Canary Island pines. The first stop is at the Brigoyo viewing point to see the valley of Los Llanos de Aridane and the volcano Mt Bejenado. The views here are breathtaking: Roque de los Muchachos looms over the immense crater of the caldera and the sea of clouds, and in the distance you may be able to see Mt Teide on the island of Tenerife, Spain’s tallest peak.Next, the viewing point at Hoyo Negro was the main epicentre of an eruption in 1949. After that, you come to one of the most iconic volcanoes on the trail: El Duraznero. You can still see the remains of the lake of lava which once flowed from it. Further on is Las Deseadas, at 1,945 metres above sea level the tallest volcano in Cumbre Vieja. Take a moment to enjoy the amazing views from up here –the best anywhere on the trail– and see how nature fights back against the volcanoes, with pines and scrubland recolonising the lava fields and chaotic terrain.

Several views of the Volcano Trail in La Palma, Canary Islands

A rest along the way

After this last fairly steep climb you come to Llano Guanches, a plain with a landscape of scrub and pine trees, the perfect place to stop for a snack. This type of flatland was created by a rain of volcanic ash. 

"The Transvulcania, one of the world’s toughest ultramarathons at nearly 80 kilometres, follows part of this route."

The landscape starts changing, with the green pines and blue Atlantic becoming more dominant. Now you come to the volcano Martín de Tigalate, created by an eruption in the 17th century which was active for over 80 days.

Tourist on the Volcano Trail in La Palma, Canary Islands

Journey’s end and a drop of wine

The trail ends in Los Canarios, at the centre of Fuencaliente. Volcanoes once exploded here too, in the 17th and 20th centuries. The first was called San Antonio, and the second, in 1971, was Teneguía. There is a visitor centre with different rooms explaining the events, and offering a walk around the volcano of San Antonio.  Two bits of advice: don’t leave Los Canarios without taking a selfie with the monument dedicated to hikers, the “El Caminante” statue, or without tasting the famous Malvasía dessert wine with almonds. It’s a reward for all that hard work!

Sunset at the Fuencaliente salt pans in La Palma, Canary Islands

Extra route

Some hikers may want to go another six kilometres to Fuencaliente lighthouse, next to the famous salt pans of La Palma. If you have energy to burn, this last walk also has fantastic views as you get closer to the sea. After the lighthouse you can go for a swim from a nearby beach, and watch an unforgettable sunset.

Tips and recommendations

How to get there

El Pilar mountain hut and visitors’ centre is about a half-hour drive from Santa Cruz de La Palma and Los Llanos de Aridane. As this is a linear trail, you’ll have to plan your return trip, or perhaps just walk part of it. Many visitors opt to leave their car at Los Canarios and get a taxi to El Pilar at the start of the trail.

Things to bear in mind

Take a raincoat and warm clothes in winter, and a hat, sunglasses and suitable footwear at any time of year.Bring food and most importantly plenty of water, taking into account the hours you can spend walking the trail. Also, remember that there are stretches without much plant cover, and with steep slopes.Try to start off early in the morning to avoid the hottest time of day at the start of the trail, especially in summer.

The best season to walk the trail

There are pleasant temperatures all year in the Canary Islands, but do try to avoid the hottest summer days.

Other things to do

In Fuencaliente there are several wineries where you can see how vines are grown in volcanic soil, and taste the results. Both in Los Canarios and by the salt pans, there are restaurants offering traditional island dishes in spectacular settings. Nature lovers should be sure to visit Caldera de Taburiente National Park La Palma is also one of the best places in the world for stargazing. Several companies offer night-time tours. And in the daytime, you can visit the Observatory at Roque de los Muchachos.

What to do

More things to see near here