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Complete Cares Route (Map, tips and accommodation)

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Ruta del Cares, for many, the most beautiful route in Asturias and in Picos de Europa. A route whose protagonists are a defile of more than 9km, a river of crystalline waters and more of 70 tunnels carved into the rock Whether you like hiking or not, these rugged and rugged mountains can not be missed if you visit Asturias or Castilla y León. Simply, you will fall in love.

A little history

First of all, the Cares Route is not only owned by Asturias but also by Castile and Leon, since depending on where you leave, you will start in Asturias, specifically in the town of Poncebos, or in the province of Leon, in the town of Posada de Valdeón or in Caín de Valdeón.


Images of the early twentieth century

The origin of the Route of Cares comes from the construction of a hydroelectric power station in Poncebos, Asturias. Due to the location and geographical complexity of this, the gorge was used to power this plant through dynamite blow tunnels. More than 500 workers participated in this monumental work, of which 11 died due to the complexity and danger of this work. Just by setting foot on this route, one of you realizes the magnitude of it.

Hiking on the Cares Route

What you should know before leaving

Although we are not to do busy routes yes we had the thorn nailed to make one of the most beautiful routes of Asturias and the north of León. The Route of Cares is one of the most famous routes and of the most visited of the Picos de Europa, mainly because of how beautiful it is because of its little difficulty. In it you can enjoy an impressive gorge along the Cares river and a multitude of excavated tunnels at the beginning of the 20th century, which makes it a true engineering work.

For those who are not used to walking, except for a small stretch, the road has little slope and is usually a wide path made of sand and gravel. Of course, being next to a gorge the views are incredible, but a supposed fall, since there is no railing, would be clearly lethal. But don't worry, it's a very, very safe route.


Route from Cares to Poncebos
Route of Cares

The route is linear and therefore it is not circular, and there is the possibility of being able to do it in any of the two senses it has. From Poncebos to Posada or Caín de Valdeón or vice versa. The same is true, but if you really want to enjoy it, the best option is to go round trip, covering your more than 20km away.

The full path it covers from Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón, but it is possible to do it only to Caín de Valdeón, since the latter has access to cars and taxis. Besides, this is the most beautiful section but also the busiest.

Round trip or one way?

If we talk about the complete route (round trip) we have to take into account that we will have to travel about 23km. If you decide to do just a stretch, for example from Poncebos to Caín de Valdeón or Posada de Valdeón, we will have to plan the return by taxi or in two cars, one on each side. It is the preferred option for tourists.


Cares Route Map
Route of Cares

Hiring a taxi is easy, since there you can see many posters with the phones of taxi drivers in the area. By the way, there are shared taxis, 7 seats, which always come out somewhat cheaper. Here are several taxi numbers we noted:

  • 636-360-273
  • 985-846-450
  • 657-681-546 (8 seats)
  • 985-846-798 (8 seats)

We recommend doing the round trip (from Poncebos to Caín de Valdeón), since you don't always see the same thing when you walk in one direction or another. Experience tells us that you leave behind many things that you see around them. Besides, being a very narrow gorge You can find it with more light or shadow depending on the time you spend. As in all canyons, when the sun is vertical there is better light, which is usually at 12 o'clock.

How long does it take to make the Route of Cares?

The average is between 5h and 7h if you do the complete route. If you only do a stretch, calculate about 3 hours, including stops and breaks.

  • From Poncebos to Caín de Valdeón (round trip): 5h
  • From Poncebos to Posada de Valdeón (round trip): 6-7h

Poncebos - Cain de Valdeón - Poncebos Route

Departure from Poncebos

We leave from Poncebos at 8am, very early for only one reason. The Route of Cares is the busiest route with Covadonga of all the Picos de Europa, and as the saying goes, the one who rises early God helps him. The traditional tourist, very frequent on this route, does not usually get up early, so if you go soon you will see few, very few people.


Route of Cares
Route of Cares

Before leaving we had breakfast at Hotel Garganta del Cares, the only one that was open at that time (it is before the parking entrance). Coffee, toast and extra strength for the body.

First leg, a long climb

Leaving Poncebos behind, the first section is what we call the zombie slope, since if you are not accustomed this slope you can go through a bit. On the way to be soon we did not meet anyone, but on the way back, down this section, we were watching and collecting zombies along the way. Therefore, if you do not go much to the mountain, climb this stretch calmly. In the end it is not so long, and the best, there is no hurry. Don't become a walker ...

During the climb you can see several abandoned houses and especially goats, goats that you will see on the entire route of Cares and that we recommend never feed them. They get used to it and in the end they become what they are not, pets or entertainment for tourists.


Route of Cares
Route of Cares

After the climb, calm comes. Almost everything that remains of the route is flat and sometimes the road goes from being very narrow to very wide, capable of holding up to 4 people in parallel. On the way you always leave the gorge on the left, where if you are lucky you can see how the clouds try to cross it. A magnificent view


Route of Cares
Route of Cares

Except at the entrance or exit of the gorge it is not possible to go down to the river, since the slope is too dangerous. Before arriving at Cain de Valdeón there are several pools that if you are lucky and are sunbathing, they are a perfect place to bathe. The waters, although very cold, are crystal clear.

Final stretch

In much of the route you have to go through several tunnels, some in total darkness, and the odd catwalk. In addition, it is possible to see the course along the path of the channel that feeds the hydroelectric power station.


Route of Cares
Rebecos Bridge

The most famous sections of the route are the Martínez catwalk, the Bolín bridge and the Rebecos Bridge. The latter, on the way back, became a real bottleneck. The funny thing is that it is still one of the most modern sections, but being not far from the entrance by Cain de Valdeón generates a lot of expectation.


Route of Cares
Route of Cares

Before reaching Cain de Valdeón there is a dam and a canyon that begins to open to give way to another bridge, a wide river and curiously a bar and an ice cream stand. An ideal place to regain strength before returning on the same path.


Route of Cares
Route of Cares

Practical data

How to get

If you leave from Poncebos, Asturias, you can arrive by the AS-264 from Las Arenas or by the CA-1 from Tielve or Sotres.

Guided tours in Asturias

We leave you a series of activities that you can do in the area of ​​the Route of Cares.

  • Guided route in Cares
  • Sella descent by canoe
  • Rafting in Asturias
  • Canyoning
  • Quad route through Arriondas

More excursions in Asturias

Asturias offers a multitude of adventure activities, especially for its hilly terrain

Seasonal tips

Winter

We recommend you bring the following winter material:

  • Long pants, thermal shirt and fleece
  • Hat and gloves
  • Primaloft
  • Raincoat or third layer for wind or rain
  • Long boots and winter socks
  • Flashlight or frontal. Black Diamond for example are excellent
  • Leggings. Here you have a good example of leggings and eye with size. Only if there is snow!
  • Backpack of at least 35l
  • Trekking sticks
  • Map/GPS. Without this, don't even show up. As GPS our recommendation is Garmin GPSMAP 64

Summer

In summer it is usually very hot and there are hardly any shadows except for the tunnels. We were short and perfect.

  • Summer shoes, short if possible
  • Shorts and short sleeve t-shirt
  • Polar lining, on the top it can be cold
  • Raincoat in case of wind or rain
  • Polarized sunglasses and cap
  • Solar protection
  • Water in quantity and food

Accommodation on the Cares Route

Here we leave you the closest accommodations on the Cares Route All of them in privileged environments

In Poncebos

  • Hotel Mirador de Cabrales. In the same entrance of the Route of Cares
  • Hotel Garganta del Cares. In the same entrance of the Route of Cares
  • Poncebos Hostel. We can say that the picture of this river first thing in the morning makes anyone fall in love. What a reflex!

In Posada de Valdeón

  • Hotel Casa Abascal. Simple and in a privileged environment

Not too far

  • Camping El Cares. A few kilometers from Poncebos


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