Hiking in Tenerife’s Spectacular Teide National Park

Hiking in Tenerife’s Spectacular Teide National Park

It has been a while since I have been able to write a blog.  The focused has been on writing a dissertation for my Electronic Engineering Degree which I have been doing part time for the last 5 years.  This blog is about a small excursion made to the Teide National Park in Tenerife in March.

The Teide National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the 3718-meter volcano, Mount Teide situated in its centre.  The national park was declared a world heritage site in 2007 and is full of extraordinary rock formations and unique biodiversity. As an avid hiker, the Teide National Park is a hiker’s paradise.  Outstanding views and hundreds of trails to explore.

Mount Teide can be seen from almost anywhere on the Island of Tenerife, and in early March the Southern flanks of the volcano were still full of snow making for a jaw dropping view. 

Mount Teide framed by rock formations of Roques de Garcia. This is the northern aspect of the volcano, it is not snow in this photo.

To go to the summit of Mount Teide, you can take the cable car which takes you to La Rambleta at 3555-meters then walk the rest of the trails or, it can be hiked from Montaña Blanca to the summit in approximately 7 hours.

Both options require a permit to access the top of Mount Teide as the summit is limited to 200 people per day.  If you purchase the cable car tickets, the permit to the top is included but if you are planning to hike, a permit must be purchased months in advance.  If you do not want to get a permit you can still get to the top of Mount Teide as a permit is only required to complete the last part of the ascent from the cable car station to the summit.  If you pass this point before it is staffed at 09:00 am, you do not need a permit.  A friend of mine did exactly this a couple weeks after I was in Tenerife.  

Linked here is the website to book permits and the cable car – link

We did not hike to the summit of Mount Teide as the allure of good wine limited our enthusiasm for an early start, instead this blog is about our hike up Pico Viejo.  Pico Viejo is the second highest volcano in Tenerife.  At 3135-meters it is a significant summit which is not to be underestimated.  We hiked the trail in early March, and it was still hot.  There are no facilities once you leave the parking on the TF-21.  Check the forecast and carry plenty of water and food. 

We parked our rental car near Parador de Cañadas del Teide, there is an information point here where you can get a map and recommendations on trials. 

A hiking map collected from the information point near Parador de Cañadas del Teide

There is also a café, but the espresso was not good. From here we walked to the La Ruleta Lookout Point which is the start of Hiking Trail 3 – Roques de Garcia. 

Los Roques rock formations

This 3.6-kilometre trail winds around the Los Roques rock formations.  We walked the trail in a clockwise direction passing gorgeous spires and wild rock formations until reaching the smooth tongue of lava know as La Cascada (The Waterfall). 

The smooth volcanic rock that forms La Cascada

The landscape is truly breath taking and passing famous rock formations such as La Catedral (The Cathedral) and Roque Cinchado (known as Finger of God) is only a taste of the National Park. 

The vast La Catedral rock formation is on the right

At approximately the halfway point of Trail 3, there is a signpost on the left (right if you are going in an anticlockwise direction) which indicated the start of Hiking Trail 23 – Los Regatones Negros.  This is a 5.2-kilometre trail with 1000 meters of elevation. 

This trail has a ‘High’ degree of difficulty rating.  It is long, steep, over unforgiving terrain and at high altitude.  If this has not put you off, then you will have a wonderful hike to Pico Viejo.  The trial is well marked with signposts making it easy to follow. 

The signs seen along the trail

You would have to try hard to get lost, but I do not recommend trying.  Leaving Trail 3, we started up Trail 23.  In places the path is well defined and easy to walk.  In other sections, we hiked over lava which was difficult due to the loose and sharp nature of the rock. 

As we ascended, the wilder and more remote the trail felt.  Trail 3 had been full of people but through the entire hike up and down Trail 23, we saw approximately 10 people, instead we had Broom Bushes and boulders to keep us company. 

A few boulders and Broom bushes to keep us company on the remote trail
A rather formidable boulder. Can you imagine that hurtling out of a volcanic blast?

At approximately the halfway point there is a crossing of dark volcanic rock which takes you to a stunning viewpoint. 

We stopped for sandwiches admiring the view.  From here you can see the plateau containing the Roques de Garcia and just past the mountains in the distance, the cloud inversion could be seen.  The clouds were clinging to the lower reaches of the mountains far below our elevation. 

After quick break, we continued up the trail.  It took us approximately 4 hours at a steady pace to reach the end of the trial.  The summit crater of Pico Veijo is a little bit further.  We scrambled up some loose rock to reach the top.  The 720-meter diameter crater of the volcano is mind blowing.

The 720 meter crater of Pico Veijo. The clouds can be seen behind the craters edge.

Looking around at the extraordinary rock formations and the rock types, all of which have come from Pico Veijo and the surround volcanos is incredible.  The last eruption of Pico Veijo was in 1798 and the path of the lava flow can be seen clearly from the high vantage point.

The author having enjoyed the trail with Mount Teide in the background

After gawking at the sensational view, we needed to start descending quickly.  We still had food and water, but the sun was hanging low in the sky which made the lack of head torches a nerve wracking prospect. 

Long shadows being cast by the low sun

We turned around retraced our steps back down the 5.2-kilometre trial.  As we descended, the low hanging sun lit up the amphitheatre of rocks below us in a beautiful golden glow.  A magical experience seeing the famous rock formations in the golden hour sun.

Roques Cinchado, one of the most famous formations in the national park with the golden glow of the evening sun

After approximately 2.5 hours we re-joined Trail 3 and followed this back to our rental car, marvelling at the astonishing landscape. 

The last kilometre of the walk was beautiful with all the formations being lit up in the golden light

I cannot recommend this trail enough; we were very isolated and saw only and handful of people.  This compared to the more popular trials makes for an intimate experience with the national park.  However, Trail 23 is a serious undertaking.  It is steep, isolated and at a high elevation.  You do need to have a reasonable level of fitness to comfortably manage the trail. Top tips for taking on Hiking Trail 23:

  • Carry 2+ litres of water, 3 if a hot day
  • Wear suitable footwear, the volcanic rock will tear trainers to pieces
  • Take a head torch if you start in the afternoon
  • Leave no litter
  • Enjoy
A final view from our rental as we left

This blog has only touched on a tiny aspect of the Teide National Park.  There are hundreds of peaks, trails, and viewpoints to see and explore.  The Novo Monde blog linked – here, has lots of great information on other hikes around the Teide National Park.

Happy adventuring. 

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