One of the places that every visitor to the Picos de Europa National Park must visit is undoubtedly the Covadonga Lakes. Lake Enol and Lake Ercina form, together with the mountains that surround them, a landscape of great beauty that, no matter how many times we see it in photos and videos, will never cease to amaze us at every step we take. One of the best options we have to visit this area is to follow the circular route of the Covadonga Lakes. We actually have two circular routes around the Covadonga Lakes, a long one of 7 km and a shorter one of just over 3 km, ideal to do with children.
To get to the Covadonga lakes we can take the Asturian town of Cangas de Onís as a reference point. Not far from there, following the AS-114 road, we reach Soto de Cangas, from where the road that leads up to the Sanctuary of Covadonga starts. Once there we will have to continue ascending along the narrow mountain road that leads to the Covadonga Lakes where we will have several parking areas, the Buferrera car park and a little further on the Ercina car park, with an approximate price starting at €2.
Access to the Covadonga lakes by private vehicle is regulated in order to protect the natural environment. Specifically, from June to November, from 8:30 in the morning onwards, access by private vehicles is not permitted. Of course, this restriction also applies to the main long weekends and public holidays and is usually adapted to the current year.
Bus tickets range in price from €3.5 for children under 12 to €9 for adults and can be purchased both at the bus station and at the Sanctuary of Covadonga, but it is best to buy online to avoid problems. Of course, a taxi service is also available.
In our case we start this circular route to the Covadonga Lakes from the parking place of La Buferrera (0h 00min). Right at the end of the car park furthest from the road access to the car park begins the conditioned walkway that climbs up to the Pedro Pidal Visitor Centre, without a doubt a must-see place to learn more about the history of the national parks and of this one in particular. After the visit, we cannot miss the opportunity to go, after a short ascent, to the Príncipe viewpoint, from where we can enjoy magnificent views.
This part of the route takes us to the Buferrera mines, which remained active until 1979. Iron, manganese and mercury were extracted here, and its activity dates back to 1848, although throughout its useful life it saw how both its owners and its reference mineral changed. After walking through this beautiful area the waymarks lead us to the parking place of Ercina (0h 40min).
This parking area is another possible starting point for the different hiking routes around the Covadonga lakes. Once there, we start the ascent that takes us up to the hill where the viewpoint we are heading towards is located. When we reach the top we find ourselves at the Viewpoint of between the Lakes or the Picota (0h 55min) as it is also known. Here we have the option of descending towards the lake of Enol, some 500 m away, and from there return to the car park of La Buferrera, another 500 m away from the lake, thus completing the short circular route of the two that visit the lakes of Covadonga. This is one of the most popular options for many visitors, especially if accompanied by children.
Once we have enjoyed the scenery and provided we intend to do the long route, we retrace our steps down to the vicinity of the Ercina car park. From there we only have to walk the distance that separates us from the Ercina Lake (1h 10min), through the green meadow that separates us from it.
The markings on the path take us around the lake with the Mosquital peak to our right and Ercina Lake to our left. At the end of the lake a new ascent begins that takes us to the Reblagas hut. The path leads us around the mountain next to us in search of the Vega el Bricial. Here, at very specific times of the year, we may come across a third lake of Covadonga, although we usually know that we have reached this spot because of the huts and the grove of trees that mark it.
All this part of the route is a continuous up and down in which the abruptness of the terrain means that we have to walk carefully. After a while we reach the Vega de Enol almost at the same time as we leave this rocky area behind us and come across the path that we must follow. This path leads us in the direction of the refuge of Vega de Enol, which we leave aside to follow the course of the path to the lake of Enol (2h 30min).
We follow the path along which we arrived at Enol Lake until we come across the trail that we must follow. This path continues to skirt the lake, leading us with each step to the road that climbs up from the Sanctuary of Covadonga. A path that fortunately allows us to avoid the asphalt, taking us almost to the crossroads that gives access to both car parks of the Covadonga Lakes. Here, if our destination is the Ercina car park, we will have to go up along the prepared path that runs next to the access road to the car park. After a while, the path turns off the road and climbs up to the viewpoint between the lakes. If our destination is the car park of La Buferrera (2h 50min), there is also a paved path that leads us to our final destination.
|1-La Buferrera car park||0h 00min||1040 m||0 km||30T 338851 4793397|
|2-Viewpoint of the Prince||0h 15min||1080 m||0,5 Km||30T 339072 4793633|
|3-Ercina car park||0h 40min||1125 m||1,5 Km||30T 339118 4792915|
|4-Viewpoint between lakes||0h 55min||1160 m||1,8 Km||30T 338956 4792963|
|5-Ercina Lake||1h 10min||1120 m||2,8 Km||30T339059 4792525|
|6-Bricial Lake||1h 40min||1125 m||3,8 Km||30T 338755 4792037|
|7-Enol Lake||2h 30min||1080 m||5,7 Km||30T 338530 4793136|
Coordinates UTM Datúm WGS84
This schematic with the path is approximate and has been created from the derived cartographic base © Instituto Geográfico Nacional "Cuadrante 55-2 1:25.000".
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Route information updated on 02-09-2020. The route can vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution of the natural environment where it is located. SENDITUR is not responsible for any misuse or inappropriate use of the comprehensive guides of its routes and/or publications, nor for any variations in their descriptions for the aforementioned reasons, and recommends that everyone be responsible and prudent in carrying out the activity. Likewise, we invite you to read books and specialised guides to complement the information described. All the times are approximate and take an orientative character, the stops have not been taken into account, no matter how small they may be. All the information related to the route, texts, images, videos, maps, diagrams, tracks, towns, and places of tourist interest are published as a guide, and may not coincide with the current state of each place. Before undertaking any activity, assess your technical knowledge, your physical condition, find out about the weather and the variations that the route may undergo, equip yourself correctly, be prudent and responsible at all times, and do not exceed your capabilities. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day and always taking as a reference to trained and experienced people, with a high level of physical and technical preparation, as well as properly equipped, therefore all opinions, assessments and/or advice are for guidance purposes only.
¿Did you know that...
The group of lakes, as they are colloquially known in Asturias, or Llagos de Cuadonga or Llagos d'Enol in Asturian, are of glacial origin and are actually made up of three lakes: Enol, Ercina and Bricial. Although the latter only usually has water during the thawing season.
Don't miss out...
A visit to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Covadonga, a point of reference for Asturias. Apart from the basilica and the museum, it is the Cave that most attracts the attention of visitors to this emblematic spot.
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