Asturias is one of the most unique regions in Spain, full of green mountains and incredible landscapes. If you drive from the south to the north of Spain, you will truly be amazed by how much the Spanish scenery changes, from the golden, vast and open landscapes of Castilla to the green and mountainous land in Asturias. You will probably think you’ve left Spain and you’re somewhere in the UK since the weather also changes considerably.
Asturias has places that will take your breath away, and no matter how many times you visit this region, you will always want more. One could have there every type of adventure and practice a wide range of extreme sports, from plenty of challenging hiking routes to kayaking in the Sella River. In this story, I’ll tell you about the best hiking route I have ever done, the Ruta del Cares (Cares Trail in English) in the impressive Picos de Europa National Park. If you love hiking and nature, get ready because after reading this, you will probably want to be there immediately!
Ruta del Cares, which is the most popular one within the National Park, receives approximately 300.000 hikers every year and is located between the provinces of León and Asturias. It runs from the Asturian village of Poncebos to Caín in Leon along the Cares Canyon. In the past, this was the only route allowing you to reach both of these towns during the snowy winters. The Cares Trail runs in between the Cantabrian Mountains, along caves, bridges, and pathways sculpted in rock, and is also known as the "Divine Gorge" of the Cares river.
This route is famous for its views and the narrowness of the path, which crosses an impressive defile. With rock on one side and the precipice on the other, it has a width that goes from 1 to 3 meters. This is enough space to pass and cross, although, be careful if you have vertigo!
You can enjoy this incredible landscape during the entire way since if you look up, you can see the majestic Picos de Europa, and if you look down, you can see the Cares' river flows. It is a pathway at mid-height of approximately 11 kilometers in length, which can be done in 3-4 hours roughly. It’s difficult to get lost, as you need to follow the canal and enjoy the landscapes, the bridges, the limestone cavities, and the occasional cute goats along the way.
The route can be started in Poncebos or Cain; it doesn't make much of a difference. If you begin in Poncebos, there is a 2 km slope which can be a bit difficult. If you start in Cain, it will be just downhill. The rest of the route is almost entirely flat! Make sure you have appropriate footwear, though! Keep in mind that if you leave the car in one of the villages, you will need to go back to where your vehicle is parked and therefore hike for 24 km (double the route). However, there is always a way around this. The options are to exchange cars with someone or hire a company to come and find you. Remember that although the route is 12 km, the road length from Poncebos to Cain is more than 100 km.
Enjoy every minute of this breathtaking hike, which is a must-do while visiting the northern Spanish region of Asturias!
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