I have wanted to do this hike for quite some time after meeting some Spanish friends and hearing them describe it while in Nazaré last year. It is the Ruta Del Cares Trail in the Picos de Europa mountain range in Northern Spain.
Since I live about an eight hour drive and now that I have a car, it made total sense to get there that way. I figured I’d get there on a Thursday, hike Friday and Saturday then drive back on Sunday. It should be perfect! I asked a buddy of mine if he wanted to go since he is an avid hiker and traveler too.
The scenery along the drive there was amazing. I am now used to driving through cities now like Obidos, Coimbra, Nazare and Ericeira but every time is more enjoyable. We got there at 5pm and checked into the hotel rooms which just happened to be about 200 yards from the path to start the hike! Nobody, but nobody who worked at the hotel spoke English. That startled the hotel owner behind the desk, this happily big-bellied proud Spaniard. When we tried to ask him what time we could get coffee in the morning, he said, “breakfast is at eight”. We asked if we could get it earlier as we wanted to start the hike early, he said, with raised eyebrows, “breakfast is at eight”. Ok, eight it is!
So, off to a bad start with the hotel staff but things definitely changed. When we came to the restaurant later for dinner, turns out, the owner works there at night too. I had my drone with me to make sure it was prepared and charged for the big hike tomorrow. The owner was completely fascinated by my drone and showed great interest. He wanted to know all about it. And, so I told him everything from how it works and how to fly it in my broken Spanish. When I asked him if he wanted a drone video of his hotel / restaurant that he could use on his website, he just beamed! Who would have known that a drone could have broken down barriers!
In the morning, at breakfast, it was some of the best, strongest and flavorful coffee I have had in my life! Of course, there was also bread, cheese, ham and OJ to complete the breakfast. Then, it was time to hit the trail!
The hike was amazing. The trail had such amazing scenery every step I took. The backdrop of the Cares River at the bottom of the gorge flanked by imposing 5000 foot mountains looked different from every turn and angle we took. I will tell you that what I thought I would expect was nothing like being there. I tell my brother every time I got to a new place that, “Now that I have been to ‘city’, I have a visual of what it looks like when I hear the cities name”.
I’m not gonna lie, the narrow ledges were sometimes pretty scary in some places when I look back on it, I was pretty bold with my walking camera shots. And yes, there have actually been deaths that occurred on these ledges. In fact, there have been six just since 2019. Five people from trying to get that elusive Instagram shot, and one who had a heart attack.
I absolutely love flying my drone in amazing locations. This was certainly one of them. We must’ve stopped five or six times for drone footage, but it was certainly worth it. As bold as I thought I was on the mountain, I think I was even in bolder with my drone between the mountains in that canyon!
After going through those series of tunnels at the end, we reached Cain at 2 PM, one hour before we were supposed to meet the 4 x 4. We chose the 4 x 4 to take us back instead of having to hike back another 4 hours. Plus, it was a 4 Hour Dr. back anyway and we stopped at various locations in the Picos da Europa. Dinner wants back at the hotel consisted of the amazing local bean dish. And of course, a few local beers!
It’s a fantastic hike and I highly advise you put it on your list if you can! On the drive home, you drive through the mountains at very high altitude where there are no gas stations. I was very close to empty and we hadn’t seen a gas station in some time. The ‘number of miles left’ reading dropped from 80 to 25 in a heartbeat. At that point I was worried we were going to be stuck on that mountain. We got down to 16 km left and thank God we passed a sign that said gas in 5 km! That one cut it close but we made it!
What a trip!!