Divine Gorge, the Cares Trail
The Divine Gorge is the best known route in Picos de Europa, connecting the Leonese municipality of Posada de Valdeón with the Asturian municipality of Poncebos.
The Cares Route is a long route (about 22 km). Although of little difficulty, as it is not very steep (about 720 m of descent and 100 m of ascent). But it allows anyone to enjoy it regardless of their physical preparation. In fact, the second stage, which is called The Divine Gorge, consists of a small path carved into the rock. It is therefore a route with no gradient until you reach “los Collados”.
There are two clearly differentiated parts of the Cares Route:
– Ruta del Cares – First stage
From Posada de Valdeón to Caín,
The route descends through a lush green beech forest, surrounded by high peaks of more than 2000m. And with each step, we enter the gorge between the central and western massifs.
To begin with, we descend towards the river and cross it over the bridge. Taking the path to the right, you will reach the Mirador del Tombo viewpoint along a beautiful route. At this point we will see an interpretation table to identify the most important peaks of the Central Massif, and the statue of a chamois, the most characteristic animal of the Picos de Europa.
Chapel of Corona and the chorco de los Lobos (wolf hunting)
Then, going down towards the river and crossing it, we must continue along a path on the right bank until we reach a clearing in the forest where the emblematic Ermita de la Corona stands. It was where, according to legend, Pelayo was crowned.
There is also another point of interest. If we continue along the road we come across the “chorco de los lobos” (wolves’ hut). Although it is an old construction, we can see the well that was the end point of an ingenious system of palisades, in which the wolf was cornered until it fell and was killed with sticks and stones.
In addition, the men of the whole valley were obliged to participate, and at the ringing of the bell they took their assigned places in the hunt.
Continuing on, we reach Las Vegas, where the Cares meets the Peguera. And cross over the Capozo bridge. We continue and after crossing the bridge of Canceles and passing to the right side of the Cares we continue along the gorge of the Caines. Which twists and turns between large boulders and makes its way to Cain.
In short, Cain is hidden in the depths of the gorge, between the highest peaks of the Central and Western Massifs. And this hostile environment helped its inhabitants to develop the skills to move through the verticality of the terrain. They are certainly known to be expert climbers. It is also worth mentioning the great feat of the “Cainejo” (Gregorio Pérez), who made the first ascent of the Naranjo de Bulnes.
The Divine Gorge – Second stage
From Caín to Puente Poncebos
The part known as “The Divine Gorge”, it opens up along a path carved in the limestone, sometimes with tunnels and sometimes with bridges that cross the Cares, and allows us to see the peculiar path.
Although this section is level until it climbs up to the Collados, from where there is an extraordinary view of the gorge, there is a somewhat uncomfortable rocky slope that takes you to Poncebos, the end of the route.
Depending on your ambitions, you can plan the excursion in various ways.
Although both parts of the Cares Route are impressive and very different from each other, what we recommend from Camping el Cares is, as long as you have time, to do both parts in different stages (round trip in the same stage, or return by means of a transport option).
And if you don’t have time, the most appropriate thing to do is to do the first section and the first kilometers of the Divine Gorge (which is the most characteristic part, where the gorge is more closed and where the tunnels and bridges are), returning to Cain to take a bus or taxi to Posada de Valdeón.