It is the most popular route in Picos de Europa, connecting the Leonese town Posada de Valdeón with the Asturian one, Poncebos. The path is 18km long but easy to go through since there are not many slopes (around 720m decending and 100m going up) which allows everyone to enjoy the walk regardless of how fit you are.
This route is made of two different parts:
The first part, from Posada de Valdeón to Cain, goes down the leafy green forest surrounded by peaks reaching altitudes of over 2000m, passing a gorge between the Central and the Western Massif.
To begin with you need to go down the river and cross the bridge. By taking the left road through a beautiful path you will end up in Mirador del Tombo (a view point) where you will find a chart which will help you identify the most important heights of the Central Massif and the statue of a Cantabrian chamois, the most characteristic animal in Picos de Europa.
Going past the river, you need to go through a path in the right side, up to a forest clearing where the emblematic Eremita de la Corona is constructed, and eremite where according to the legend was crowned Pelayo.
If we keep on going through the motorway we’ll come across the chorco de los lobos, an old well used to defend the village against the wolf. The men of the valley were forced to take part in this activity of hunting and when the bell rang they occupied their positions.
Following that path we reach Las Vegas, where river Cares meets the Peguera, then we cross Capozo bridge. We keep on going and after crossing Canceles bridge to the right side of the Cares, we follow the route through Caínes Canyon, which makes its way to Caín twisted among huge crags.
Caín is hidden in the depths of the canyon, between the highest peaks in the Central and Western Massifs. The hostility of the spot helped its inhabitants to develop great skills when getting around the verticality of the place. It must be say that it is known to have great climbers as Cainejo (Gregorio Pérez) who was the first person to climb the Naranjo de Bulnes peak.
- The second part from Cain to Puente Poncebos, known as garganta divina (the heavenly pass), makes its way through a path sculpt in limestone, sometimes we might find tunnels and bridges that cross the river Cares, from where you can catch the sight of the peculiar path. This stretch is railroad crossing until you go up Los Collados, from where you can get a magnificent view of the canyon, and it’s when you have to go down a slightly uncomfortable steep stony slope to Poncebos, the end of the route.
Depending on everyone’s ambitions, the trip could be planned in several ways. Even though both parts are impressive and very different from each other, what we recommend in The Cares Campsite, as long as there is time enough, is to go through both parts in different stages (there and back in the same stage, or returning by any other mean of transport). If you lack the time, the best option is to do the first part together with some kilometres in garganta divina which is the most characteristic one, where the canyon gets more narrow and where you can find tunnels and bridges, returning to Caín to catch the train or a taxi and head to Posada de Valdeón.