All about the Ruta del Cares

In the magnificent setting of the Picos de Europa there is a hidden hiking trail that attracts hikers like a magnet every summer and spring. It is the Cares Route in the north of Spain; which, provides a route that flows through an impressive gorge and a great view.

Also known as the Divine Throat, the Cares route was carved out of the limestone rock of the massif. It is a path of sand and gravel that extends along an insinuated gorge in the direction of the Cares river and that is located precisely between two small towns such as Poncebos (Asturias) and Caín (Castilla y León).

This Cares gorge is an ideal trail for trekking . It is bordered by rugged mountains with huge peaks that reach up to 2,000 meters in height and the width of the trail ranges from 1 to 3 meters. A sufficient space to walk and allow the passage of a person.

The richness of its landscapes is so unique, that it will not only allow you to enjoy a path full of tunnels, bridges or appreciate a river of clear and crystalline water, but it also runs close to historical and cultural spaces such as the Hermitage of Corona, the necropolis of Barejo and the Chorco de los Lobos.


Story behind the route

In remote years, the Cares path was used as the path of the goats, since it was the only way of passage, during snowfall, that connected the towns of Caín and Poncebos. However, by then his journey was complicated. Already for the years 1945 and 1950 the trail was remodeled; regardless of the inclement weather or the characteristic steep area , the path was marked out by digging through the rocks of the mountains. For this, the labor of 500 employees was required, of which 11 died during the arduous work. All this, with the sole purpose of hydroelectric exploitation of the Cares River and therefore facilitate the transfer of workers.

At present, the hydroelectric plant is still working and channeled water from the Cares River enters and exits through some 71 drilled tunnels. Likewise, this 12-kilometer route is open to the public for tourism, who will be able to enjoy its landscapes, thanks to the great effort of all those who made it possible.

A wide tour

The excursion of this route could last between approximately 3 or 4 hours. It is a route without loss, because you only have to follow the canal and enjoy the natural landscape, the stone arches, the bridges, the Cares River and even the goats.

When asking yourself how to do the Cares route, you will know that the two possible options are from Austrias or from León. Both are located opposite each other and the difference by car between the two towns is 2 hours. Keep in mind that if you start the Cares route from Cain, part of the route will be downhill and then flat until Los Collaos, where the descent towards Poncebos begins. But, if you start in Poncebos you will have to overcome a 2km slope for 45 minutes.

If you leave your car where the Cares route begins, you will have to do the outward and return route, therefore covering 24km. Now, if you only want to walk the 12 km, you will have to exchange the car with someone else or hire a company to return to the starting point. The decision to start the route in one or another town will depend on the planned planning, because if you are already in Asturias or Cantabria, the logical thing would be to start in Poncebos, but if you arrive from the area of ​​León or Burgos, you will have to start the route in Cain.


Accommodation and restaurants in the area

If you decide to do the Picos de Europa route, you will have to know the accommodation and food options that this place offers you. In both Cain and Poncebos you will find good services, but in high season it can be complicated and prices increase. However, in the surrounding areas you will find towns with alternatives such as Posada de Valdeón, in León, or Las Arenas in Asturias.

Depending on where you start, the Cares routes take you to eat either in Caín, where you will find meats such as lamb, kid and sausages, or in Poncebos, whose specialty is Asturian bean stew and Cabrales cheese. If you want to be more practical, you could have a picnic and eat outdoors on the trail. Do not expect to find any food or drink stall within the route.

Tips to keep in mind

For many, the best time to hike in Spain is spring and autumn, as the climates and colors are more enjoyable. Although, it is always essential to start the walk first thing in the morning. On the other hand, as the path is located in areas with very high cliffs , you should evaluate your visit if you suffer from vertigo.

Now, if you want to do the Cares route with children , always remember to take them by the hand on the inner side of the path, explain the dangers to them and do not let them carry a backpack, as they could get tired or stumble. Also, if they are very small it is better to load them in a baby carrier.

Anyone who is interested in doing this tour must have appropriate clothing . The path is full of stones and, therefore, you must have good trekking boots (by clicking on this link you can find some options to choose from) that are not slippery and that protect your feet. On the other hand, as the mountain climate is very changeable, it is important to be prepared with a coat, in case the temperatures drop or it rains. Remember that it is a long route that can only be done on foot, so bring a thermos of water to stay hydrated.


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