León and Asturias, Spain
In case you decided to visit Spain, you mustn’t miss the Cares Trail. Or as Spanish call it, the Ruta del Cares. It makes the connection between the Leon province and Asturias. Spreading on a distance of almost 12 kilometers, once upon a time it was the only accessible route during the snowy winter months, for traveling between the village of Asturias and Posada de Valdeon. It has incredible scenery, and it is the best place to be if you like mountain hiking since the road follows the Cares Canyon, formed millions of years ago by the Cares River. So dress comfortable and start your exploration in this rocky land.
The gorgeous route was first used a pathway to take supplies and food to the hydroelectric power plant, located in Camarmeña – Poncebos area. This happened between the years 1916 and 1921. Of course, it did not have the look it does now, with the spectacular tunnels and bridges because the route was modified, to expand and improve it. These operations lasted for about five years, between 1945 and 1950. Today, it is used as a hiking trail for enthusiasts and it is one of the most appreciated hiking trail in the world, many people coming here from all around the world to enjoy the savage beauty of these gorges.
Located in the Cantabrian Mountains, the pathway offers spectacular views, especially in the upper areas, caves, high rock walls on one side and the other, bridges, and unique flora and fauna that developed in time in this harsh and steep environment. The waters of the river manage to do such spectacular sculptures in the rocks, during its extended history, due to the fact that all the cliffs here are made out of limestone, a rock that can be easily dissolved and molded by water. The pathway is rather narrow, being accessible only on foot. The deep verge bordering the trail can be rather close sometimes. So, even though the scenery is breathtaking, it is highly advisable to watch your step, especially in the areas where it narrows down. Also, always wear adequate hiking shoes on the trail, to make sure you have a proper stability and grip and on the rocks. Nothing can go bad and everything is safe, as long as you are equipped accordingly and stay away from the edge of the verge.
But the exact narrow ways, surrounded by impressive walls, makes this place so unique. The slopes are moderate, so it doesn’t need a high amount of effort to walk the entire trail. It may seem long, but it will be a pleasure to walk on it and experience the wonder of nature, seen nowhere else in the world. The Cares Trail is so popular among hikers that every year about 300,000 hikers come here to enjoy a walk through the limestone walls. The route is rather straight almost throughout the entire length, having a single climbing segment, of about 2 km, being the most difficult part of the trail. And this section is very close to the start of the trail when you still have enough energy to not feel it being that challenging.
In case you wish to explore this incredible hiking route in Spain, but never experience hiking before, you need to make some preparation before starting your journey on the Cares Trail. First, wear comfortable clothes and hiking shoes. Even though you visit the gorge in the summer, do take a rain coat with you, since weather can be unpredictable. Also, prepare a backpack with enough water and some food. You will need to remain hydrated and to eat something, as the trail extends for 12 km, and it takes a bit of effort to complete it. Another advice would be to wear sunscreen since there are extensive areas of the trail that will be in full sunlight, to avoid sunburns. And whatever you do, be respectful of nature, places and people you meet.
Nevertheless, the Cares route is a perfect reason to visit Spain and enjoy its beauty. It is an excellent opportunity to be in the outdoors and do some physical exercises. The fresh air, the movement, and spectacular views will offer you fantastic memories. And don’t forget your camera at home, because the gorge will offer you a stunning scenery and beautiful sighting you will want to immortalize. If you wish to avoid too many people and enjoy the canyon in peace and quiet, choose to go in the middle of the week or extra season, if possible. In peak season and weekends, the trail becomes rather crowded, flooded by people who heard about its beauty and traveled here to enjoy nature’s monument.