Spain is a very beautiful land, full of unique corners both in the north and in the south. Precisely the Ruta del Cares is located in the north, in the heart of the Cantabrian area, in the Principality of Asturias. With this simple guide you will be able to know how to carry out this beautiful route with full safety, so that you only worry about enjoying what this route offers you.
Part 1 of 3: Know the environment
Step 1. Find out about the place
It is among the most famous trails in the Picos de Europa, approximately 12 kilometers long. The mountains between which you will find yourself are almost 2000 meters high. It is located between the provinces of León and the Principality of Asturias, from the Asturian town of Poncebos to the Leonese town of Posada de Valdeón, crossing Caín.
- Its approximate duration is 8 hours round trip, a considerable duration due to the difficulty of the crossing.
- It makes its way through the “Divine Throat” of the Cares River, through which you can enjoy a walk between bridges, gorges, caves and paths carved out of pure rock.
- In the past, it was the only way of communication between these towns in the harsh snowy seasons of winter.
Step 2. Research how to get to the area
To get here you must drive along the AS-114 towards Cangas de Onís until you see the town of Arenas de Cabrales. Once you arrive at this town, within its urban area, you will take the AS-264 that leads to the Poncebos Bridge, since the starting point of the Ruta del Cares is in this town, which belongs to the Principality of Asturias.
- Take the path to the left when you reach Puente de Poncebos, and later to the right.
- There you will find a narrow path that will take you to Collaos (or Los Collados).
- Keep going up that road, you will immediately see the Cares river.
Step 3. Evaluate the difficulty
It is a route of medium-high difficulty, although it is not recommended for beginners due to its altitude and its transit through high gorges. Become aware of them if you want to do it, since you cannot abandon the route until you have reached Caín or Poncebos, as it is a route between gorges.
- It is quite flat as far as the road, but there are elevations. Watch where you step, do not forget that it is high mountains. It is recommended to do the route on sunny days, so that the rain is not an added difficulty.
- The roads have a width of one and a half meters, on average in their total route. They are designed this way so that in the old days a car could go through them, so it is a pretty decent width.
- It is not a relaxed trail, you must be vigilant. It has no protections of any kind on the uneven sides, adding to its difficulty.
Part 2 of 3: Prepare Your Equipment
Step 1. Fill your backpack
The supplies that you carry in your backpack can facilitate your journey. It is very important that you go well equipped, since you can always have an emergency. That is why, among the supplies, take your mobile phone with enough battery for the whole day.
- Bring enough water, it is important to hydrate properly. Surely you use this route almost all day, so it is important that you are hydrated.
- Cover your head (especially if you do the route in the summer months) and use cream with a high sunscreen, since the sun hits heavily.
- Equip yourself with a map. Although this road is quite busy and it is not very common to get lost, it is always good to have a map. You can download it here
Step 2. Fit your clothes
The way of dressing can totally condition the journey, and more so on a trail with the characteristics of the Ruta del Cares. You will always wear suitable clothing and footwear to fully enjoy yourself and without unwanted discomfort, adapting to the time of year in which you make the route.
- Proper footwear is essential. This route has many large stones and rocks throughout its length, so it is not recommended that you wear any type of open footwear. Put on your best hiking boots or strong sports shoes.
- Put on simple cotton clothes that facilitate perspiration on your body. The last thing you want would be to walk all day with uncomfortable clothes or that when sweating from the effort of the road prevents you from continuing comfortably.
Step 3. Insure your children
If you decide to take your children on this route, it will be at your own risk. It is not very advisable for children, due to the great slopes that the path presents. It is essential that you take all the security measures if you finally decide to take them.
- Your child should always walk inside, close to the wall. You must take it by the hand, to prevent it from escaping.
- If you come across another group of hikers, it is best for one of the groups to stop for the other to pass, not to cross both at the same time.
Part 3 of 3: Enjoy nature
Step 1. Start the road
You will start by descending the path next to the canal. You will see a few meters ahead a path that goes down to the river, continue through here until you see a booth. On the right you will see the Canal de Saigu, walk to the cave of Canal de las Avareras. The path continues through the Tableru and La Raya canals, arriving at Culiembro. To the right of your canal, there is a cabin. In this part the path divides in two.
- On the one hand, the detour to the GR-202 (Reconquista Route), which goes up the Culiembro canal to Ostón. There you will cross Vega Maor and Vega de Comeya, up to Covadonga.
- You should continue through the other detour.
Step 2. Be amazed by the scenery
During the journey you will be able to observe some places of immeasurable beauty, which will make your visit worthwhile. Half of the route is the most beautiful as it has the most spectacular rock formations on the way.
- Here the walls of this gorge get narrower and narrower to the point of almost sticking together.
- Later, we will pass the limit from Asturias to León. Here the path gets higher, over the river.
- You must cross the Bolón bridge, passing the river at a considerable height, so you must cross carefully. A little later you will cross it again on the bridge of the Rebecos.
Step 3. Finish the route
Towards the end of this path, you will see that a section will go through a tunnel with windows dug into its rock wall, through which you will be able to see the exterior. It is something very curious about this route that everyone remembers. After this you will arrive at the Cain Dam. Here the valley finally opens and you will arrive at the Leonese town of Caín.
The return is done the same way you have done, so it is perfect for taking photos of what you may have missed at first sight
- It is a route not suitable for those who suffer from vertigo, since it crosses very high gorges.
- At the entrance of the town of Poncebos, you can find 2 parking lots. It is highly recommended that you leave your car there, since if you go in high season it will be impossible to park closer to the town.
- If you do the route in low season, you can go further up the town. There you will find the Bulnes funicular and the very beginning of the Divine Throat.