Monday, 19 March 2018

El Teide National Park Running Route, Tenerifa

Click here for route map
Length 3.5 km (2.2 miles), terrain: rocky, one steep section, gain 211 meters

NOTE: If you like this short route, you might want to add-on one of the others that begin at the Parador.

The most spectacular place on the Canary island of Tenerifa is El Teide, the huge volcano dominating the island from every viewpoint. So you're almost sure to be drawn upwards to this fascinating stone wilderness, with other-worldly rock formations, lava flows, yellow sulphur vents and scrubby desert plants.
View over the caldera from the peak of El Teide
El Teide is enclosed within a national park. It's full of hiking trails and amazing vistas of the surrounding cliffs. If you're a runner who likes wide open spaces and amazing terrain -- and you don't mind the rough footing -- you'll find a few routes to your taste.

Our route in this post, the Roques de García, are a group of spectacular rocks down in the main caldera, or volcanic cone valley. The valley stretches out at the foot of the Teide peak, which is a much higher cone than the big one below it. The peak rises to over 3,700 meters, Spain's tallest mountain. The surrounding valley, with los Roques, is just over 2,000 meters high.
Some lava chimneys along the Los Roques trail
Los Roques provide a collection of amazing rock formations and volcanic chimneys, with a variety of local plants along the way. There is a lot of cactus and lots of white-flowered broom plants.

This trail circles los Roques, starting near the park lodge, the Parador. The lodge has parking, and -- even more important -- refreshments for later. The lodge is a meeting place for hikers and bicyclists from all over the island.
Looking back at the Parador and south rim from the trail
Quite a few hiking trails radiate out from the Parador, some heading along the southern crater wall, others heading northwards towards El Teide peak.

A paved foot-trail connects also the Parador to the nearby Roques de García trail, across the main park road. A parking area there means a lot of visitors stop at the base of Roques de García. But don't despair, after just a few minutes on the hiking trail itself, you'll hardly see anyone else.
Start of the trail at Los Roques
So, if you've gotten yourself up the seemingly endless serpentines on the road to El Teide, let's park near the Parador and wander over to Los Roques.

At the far end of the parking area, the rocks begin. There is a scenic lookout there, the Mirador de la Ruleta.
View towards El Teide from the trail
Look for the trail beginning to the right, Sendero 3, that heads north along the east side of the rock formations.

Now just head up the trail, with the rocks to your left side. The way is fairly flat here.
Formations along the trail
You'll go between volcanic chimneys, columns of magma which cooled before they reached the surface, and the surrounding rock weathered away.

Los Roques look like a steep, crumbling ridge, with rubble lying at the base of each rock. Between the stone towers, El Teide rises up along the northern horizon.

At about 700 yards, you'll pass a lava flow that came down the mountain from the north.

Past the first kilometer mark, another trail leads off upwards towards the second highest peak, the Pico Viejo.
Pico Viejo as seen from a high trail, with island of La Gomera in background
When you reach the 1.5-kilometer mark, the trail starts heading downhill into the valley called Llano de Ucanca, west of the rocks. You'll pass a lava flow called the La Cascada (The Waterfall), which looks like the flowing stone froze in mid-air.

The trail will continue downwards to the south, towards a solitary stone tower, called the Cathedral.
The Cathedral in shadows, on the right, as seen from higher rocks
You'll now pass right below the Cathedral, standing alone to the west of the others. At its base the trail now heads uphill fairly steeply, heading back to the Mirador de la Ruleta, passing the Cathedral.

Once at the top, it's just a short walk back to the Parador to grab some pizza and a cold drink, and sit on their terrace for a view of this amazing national park!
Back at the Parador, with view of Los Roques and El Teide

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