The Peaks of Europe National Park boasts a considerable number of spectacular spots and routes with their own name, such as the Cares Route, also known as the Divine Gorge. The popular Cares trail links the towns of Caín, in León, and Poncebos, in Asturias. This route was created by man in 1945 to facilitate access to the canal of the hydroelectric power station, which accompanies us practically the whole way.
To answer this question we need to know if we want to do the whole route, there and back on foot, in which case it doesn't make much difference whether we start from Cain or Poncebos. It will of course depend on whether we are in Asturias or León. If you are not used to long walks or if your idea is not to walk the whole of the Cares trail, it is best to start from Caín, in the province of León. This part of the route is arguably the most spectacular part of the route, and the difference in altitude that we will have to overcome is not remarkable. For example, we can go as far as Los Collaos, just before starting the descent towards Poncebos, and turn back. Another possibility is to return to the starting point by public or private transport from the town where we finish the route, although we should be aware that we have just over 2 hours of road travel between Cain and Poncebos.
The official PR-PNPE 3 or Cares Route links Posada de Valdeón with Poncebos for 21 km, but nowadays the easy access to Caín de Valdeón (0h 00min) has made it the main starting and finishing point of this hiking route, thus reducing its distance. The starting point will depend on where we can park our vehicle, in any case the route is perfectly signposted and the course of the river Cares also serves as a reference to follow. We leave Caín behind us following a comfortable path that leads us to cross a first bridge to continue along the other side of the river. We soon reach the start of the Divine Gorge where we cross over the dam on the other side of the river.
After a while we reach the photogenic Rebecos Bridge, which we cross. After crossing this vertiginous bridge and now on the other side of the gorge, we arrive almost without noticing at the Bolín Bridge, which allows us to cross the gorge again and continue on the other side, with no more changes of side. This area also offers us more tunnels and vertiginous areas where the river flows a few metres below the path we are following. We continue on to find the Martinez footbridge, another of the most representative places on the Cares Route. This point can serve as a reference point to differentiate the Leonese side of the Cares from the Asturian side of the Cares. From here the gorge gradually becomes wider and wider as we gain altitude until we reach Los Collaos. Once there we only have to start the descent that will take us to Poncebos (3h 15min).
If our starting point for the Cares Route is Cain, we must take the town of Posada de Valdeón in León as a reference point, as the road that will take us to Cain starts there. Posada de Valdeón can be reached either from the N-625 which links Cangas de Onís with Riaño and León. Or from the N-621 which connects Potes with Riaño. Once in Caín there are several parking areas, although in high season they fill up quickly and some of them have to be paid for.
If our starting point for the Cares Route is Poncebos, then we will take the Asturian town of La Arenas as a reference point. From there, the road leads to Poncebos, which is actually just an area of hotels and rural houses. It should be borne in mind that the funicular railway that goes up to Bulnes also leaves from Poncebos, which means that the area is even more crowded with people and vehicles if possible. To get to Las Arenas we have to follow the AS-114 road either from Panes or from Cangas de Onís. We can also reach this road from the A-8 Cantabrian motorway at Llanes and Ribadesella. Once in Poncebos there are several car parks on both sides of the road.
If our idea is only to do the outward journey, and we do not have the possibility of leaving a car at each starting point of the route, we have available both taxi and 4x4 transport services. In addition, in high season there is usually a public bus service, for which information is available at the bus station in Cangas de Onís.
|1-Caín||0h 00min||460 m||0 km||30T 345250 4786267|
|2-Poncebos||3h 15min||230 m||12 Km||30T 351214 4790974|
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, 55-4, 56-1 y 56-3 1:25.000".
¿Did you know that...
From 1916 to 1921, the Viesgo electricity company built a water canal linking Cain to the Camarmeña load chamber in Poncebos. Later, from 1944 to 1950, a path was built parallel to the canal to clean and maintain it. The construction of these works claimed 13 human lives, and the Cares Path is currently one of the most visited hiking routes in Spain.
Don't miss out...
If your starting point on the Cares Route is Cain, you should not miss the different viewpoints, such as the Tombo Viewpoint, which you will find both on the road to Cain and on the road to Posada de Valdeón from the N-625.
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Route information updated on 27-08-2020. The route may vary greatly depending on the time of year, weather conditions and terrain, as well as the actions of third parties and the evolution suffered in the natural environment where it is located. All opinions, advice and/or assessments made by SENDITUR in their descriptions are for guidance only and are subject to and/or refer to the specific conditions of the specific day of the route, referring to that specific day, taken from trained people, with the appropriate experience and with a high level of physical and technical preparation as a reference, as well as correctly equipped.
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