Walking in the “Picos de Europa” Mountains: The Cares River Route


Principado de Asturias

Walking in the “Picos de Europa” Mountains: The Cares River Route

Some 300,000 people do the Cares route every year. This gorge, with its narrow passes and gullies, is right in the heart of the Picos de Europa Mountains. The area’s stunning landscape affords unique views of the National Park. Come and discover it with us.

The Cares River route is situated in northern Spain, between the provinces of Asturias and León. This protected area is criss-crossed by rivers and deep gorges, dotted with lakes, forests and peaks of over 2,000 metres. It is a unique, rugged, wild landscape of incomparable beauty that leaves visitors enchanted.

Getting to know this route is a unique experience. The trail is narrow, surrounded by wild vegetation, with water ever-present. The river flows along the valley-floor, its sound a constant companion en route. Now and again the path takes you through small tunnels carved out of the rock and across bridges that hang over the abyss. All the while, rocky mountainsides tower up on either side of the trail.

The itinerary we suggest here runs between Caín, in León province, and Poncebos, in Asturias. It runs parallel to the Cares, the area’s wildest river. The route covers 12 kilometres over easy terrain and is recommended for everyone. The walk should take between five and six hours. You do not need to be especially fit, although you should take a few minor precautions: take water and something to eat; wear suitable clothing and footwear; take a waterproof with you in case the day turns rainy and apply sun-cream in summer. The Cares is accessible at any time of year, except during the winter months, when snow covers the peaks and valleys of the Cantabrian Mountains.

The Cares area, like the rest of the Picos de Europa, Mountains, is home to a rich and varied fauna. Among other species, there are chamois and Griffon vultures, as well as the Capercaillie grouse, currently in danger of extinction. Be sure to visit the area’s mountain villages. Sampling the exquisite regional cuisine is also a must, with its cured meats and internationally renowned cabrales goat’s cheese. There are also beef and game dishes, fabada (sausage and bean casserole), pote asturiano (regional stew with beans, potatoes, greens and meat), vegetable casseroles, peas and broad beans, along with desserts made from chestnuts and walnuts. To drink, local cider is the perfect choice.

Apart from walks, hikes and biking routes, these mountains also offer a wide range of adventure sports (canyoning, rafting, caving, climbing, quad biking, paragliding, horse-riding and kayaking). Nature, fun and respect for the environment go hand in hand in this unique part of Spain. Do not forget your camera – there are a host of spots offering some of the most beautiful views you could imagine.

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