Conquer the ‘Machu Picchu of Tenerife’ on this Epic Hike in Spain’s Canary Islands
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - The Dramatic Landscapes of Mount Teide National Park
With its soaring volcanic peaks, lush forests, and sprawling lava fields, Mount Teide National Park showcases some of the most dramatic landscapes in all of Spain’s Canary Islands. Situated on the island of Tenerife, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is centered around Mount Teide, an impressive 12,198 foot volcano that’s the highest peak in Spain. Teide’s summit offers panoramic vistas of Tenerife and makes for an unforgettable hiking experience.
Visiting Teide National Park is like walking on another planet. Much of the terrain resembles the surface of the moon with its vast fields of volcanic rock and lack of vegetation. The park’s unique Martian appearance stems from the various eruptions that have shaped the landscape over the years. Chunky black lava rocks contrast sharply with patches of red, ochre, and yellow minerals deposited by volcanic activity.
While the lower elevations of Teide National Park appear dry and desolate, hiking higher rewards you with sights of verdant laurel forests and vibrant wildflowers. Canary Island pines also dot the mountainsides. Their twisting shapes have been molded by the extreme winds that whip across the peaks.
One of the most remarkable features of Teide National Park is Montana Blanca. This is a stunning white ridge that seems to glow in the sunlight. Formed by pale volcanic pumice, Montana Blanca presents a graceful curve of cliffs rising near the center of the park. Visitors who hike to this area can admire its unique beauty up close.
In addition to its geological wonders, Teide National Park also offers a peek into the traditional island lifestyle. Scattered across the lower slopes are fincas, or small farms and homes typical of the Canaries. Hikers pass these charming clusters of buildings with their terraced fields and stone walls meandering through the rugged terrain. It’s a nice contrast to the otherwise rugged wilderness.
What else is in this post?
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - The Dramatic Landscapes of Mount Teide National Park
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Winding Trails Through Lush Laurel Forests
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Conquering Spain's Highest Peak on the Teide Summit Hike
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Seeing Stunning Coastal Views Along the Anaga Rural Park Trail
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Passing Through Quaint Canary Island Villages En Route
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Picnicking and Swimming in Natural Pools and Cascades
- Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Getting Away from the Tourist Crowds in Tenerife's Rugged Interior
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Winding Trails Through Lush Laurel Forests
While the volcanic moonscape at the summit of Mount Teide steals the show, some of the most enchanting scenery in Teide National Park is found lower down on the mountain. Here, a lush forest of Canary Island pine and laurels cloaks the gently rolling foothills and valleys, inviting hikers to connect with nature.
Crisscrossing this verdant landscape are countless hiking trails that deliver you deep into the heart of the forest. Some pathways wind gently; others involve a steeper climb over the rugged terrain. But all will heighten your senses with the brush of pine needles underfoot and the sweet fragrance of laurels on the breeze. It's like traveling through a leafy paradise.
One superb trail for experiencing the magic of Teide's forests is the Chinyero Circular Route. This peaceful 5.4 mile loop near the town of Chío weaves you beneath towering pines and past sprawling laurels as it follows the contours of the land. Sunlight filters softly through the canopy, dappling the fern-filled understory in a mosaic of light. The shade of the forest keeps you cool, even on hot days.
The route also wanders past historic vineyards and craggy lava flows for added diversity. Hikers say the peaceful atmosphere makes them feel a thousand miles away from the bustle of resort towns like Los Cristianos. The only sound is birdsong echoing through the trees. Just be sure to bring plenty of water since none is available along the path.
For those up for a greater physical challenge, the trail to Siete Cañadas offers a more strenuous, steep hike up into an unspoiled pine forest. You'll rise over 1,300 feet, resulting in a serious leg workout. But hikers say the strain is worth it. The path eventually emerges from the woods to reveal the gaping Ucanca crater with Teide rising beyond.
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Conquering Spain's Highest Peak on the Teide Summit Hike
Rising to a lofty elevation of 12,198 feet, the volcanic peak of Mount Teide stands as Spain’s tallest mountain and the third largest volcano on Earth. While many visitors to Tenerife are content to merely gaze up at Teide from below, an select group of hikers aim higher – literally. These intrepid explorers take on the challenge of summiting Mount Teide for unrivaled views and a true sense of achievement.
Unlike climbing many towering peaks, ascending Teide does not require technical gear or skills. There are no glaciers to traverse or sheer rock faces to scale. Instead, reaching the top involves hiking a marked trail that switchbacks steadily up the volcano’s slopes. The route rises over 6,000 feet in about 6 miles, making for a strenuous climb. Most hikers take two days to complete the trek, stopping overnight at one of two mountain refuges along the way.
The journey begins amid sparse vegetation at the volcano’s base, then enters stretches of dry volcanic rubble. Hardy Canary Island pines appear as you gain elevation. Hikers finally emerge above the tree line into a stark, rocky moonscape near the summit. It’s an otherworldly place, with Teide’s crater yawning dramatically on one side. The views stretch over Tenerife and beyond to neighboring islands.
The arid conditions and high elevation make the Teide trek challenging. Sub-freezing winds whip across the exposed peak, so warm layers are essential. The thin air causes hikers to tire more quickly and can trigger altitude sickness in some. Staying properly hydrated is also critical. But the sense of achievement when standing atop Spain –after conquering over a vertical mile on foot – makes Teide’s summit hike extremely rewarding.
Reaching the top requires securing a permit in advance from the national park office. Only 200 hikers per day are allowed to ascend Teide’s uppermost slopes. Permits often book out weeks ahead, underscoring the popularity of this iconic Canary Islands adventure.
Those willing to brave Mount Teide’s heights are rewarded with an experience of a lifetime. “Climbing Teide was tougher than I expected but so worth it,” shares hiker Clara S. “The views from the peak were incredible looking out over the whole island and ocean. I felt on top of the world!” Andreu V. agrees. “Reaching Spain’s highest point felt like a real accomplishment. The summit views are so alien, like walking on the moon.”
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Seeing Stunning Coastal Views Along the Anaga Rural Park Trail
Far removed from Tenerife's bustling resort towns, Anaga Rural Park protects the island's lush northern tip, where soaring cliffs plunge into the Atlantic. Hiking the park's seaside trails rewards with nonstop vistas over this rugged coastline, making for an unforgettable outdoor experience.
The scenery along Anaga's trails constantly impresses as you traverse high above stunning azure waters. Sheer black cliffs drop hundreds of feet down to rocky shores lashed by ocean waves. You'll pass secluded coves tucked into the wrinkled coastline, their pebble beaches untouched. And the panoramas extend across the sea to Tenerife's neighboring isles capped in clouds.
"The Anaga coastal views blew my mind with how beautiful they were," shares hiker Lea R. "We hiked miles along the clifftops and kept stopping to soak in the scenery. I'll never forget looking down on those emerald waters crashing below."
One standout seaside hike is the 4.3 mile Barranco de Las Huertas trail looping through Anaga Natural Park. Starting from the tiny hamlet of Lomo de Las Bodegas, it soon approaches the coast and runs along sea cliffs for over a mile. Signs indicate vista points called Miradores where you can linger and photograph the ocean vistas.
"The Barranco de Las Huertas trail had nonstop incredible views the whole way," says Erica V. “My favorite spot was Mirador de Tamadiste with its views back down the coast. But every bend revealed a new breathtaking scene, like the wild cliffs of Acantilado de Almáciga."
For an even more scenic coastal walk, the 7.5 mile CIR-4 trail boasts epic vistas with every step. From the village of Cruz del Carmen, it undulates past sheer sea cliffs, through canyons blanketed in ferns, and above picturesque black sand beaches. Hikers are wowed by sights like the Roque de Las Bodegas, a towering rock pinnacle rising from the waves.
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Passing Through Quaint Canary Island Villages En Route
Even the most intrepid hikers need a break, and the charming villages of Tenerife provide the perfect rest stops when trekking through Teide National Park. Wandering these picturesque communities immerses you in island history and culture while allowing time to recharge your batteries for the next leg of your journey.
One of the main appeals of passing through the Canary Island villages is the opportunity to experience Tenerife beyond the bustling resorts. “Hiking through those tranquil villages was like stepping back in time,” shares traveler Lea S. “With their narrow cobbled lanes and tiny central plazas, they exuded a simpler way of life far from the crowds.”
The village architecture also impresses, with many dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. The round stone homes with thatched roofs, known as palmeras, showcase traditional Canarian design. “I loved exploring Vilaflor’s little streets and admiring the historic palmeras houses,” Lea says.
Beyond architecture, village life moves at a relaxed pace, inviting you to slow down as well. Locals chat in the central square, dogs snooze in patches of sun, and the only traffic may be a farmer driving his goat herd down the lane. “After hiking, it felt so peaceful to just sit at a cafe in Tejina and watch daily life unfold,” Andreu V. describes. “It's a world away from the tourist scene.”
This timeless quality also means traditions carry on in the villages, from artisans doing embroidery by hand to winemakers pressing grapes as their ancestors did. You may find locals in traditional dress as well. “I visited Boca Tauce on a festival day and saw people celebrating in beautiful Canarian costumes,” shares Clara S. “It was a special glimpse into the local culture.”
Beyond relaxation and cultural immersion, the villages also cater to hikers with small grocery stores for picking up snacks or sunscreen. Many have excellent restaurants where you can refuel on Canarian specialties like papas arrugadas (boiled potatoes drizzled with olive oil and sea salt). The cooler mountain temperatures provide welcome relief after sweating in the lowlands.
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Picnicking and Swimming in Natural Pools and Cascades
After working up a sweat hiking through Teide National Park, nothing refreshes like taking a dip in one of the area's many natural swimming spots. Scattered across the rugged landscape, you'll find crystalline pools fed by cascading streams and waterfalls that provide the perfect places to cool off and picnic. These refreshing oases give hikers a much-needed break while bringing them close to the park's unique natural beauty.
"Finding those hidden pools and waterfalls felt like discovering secret treasures," shares Andreu V., who sought them out while hiking near Vilaflor. "The waters were so clean and pure, ideal for taking a quick dip after getting all dusty and sweaty on the trail. We ate our packed lunch sitting beside one of the falls surrounded by lush ferns and moss - a magical experience."
One top spot is the pool at Erques, situated below the trail connecting Vilaflor and the community of El Portillo. After a steep descent down lava rock, hikers enter a canyon holding this enticing swimming hole complete with a tiny beach. The chilly waters - drained from Mount Teide's snow melt - offer a brisk but revitalizing respite. Nearby waterfalls add to the beauty. Visitors like Andreu especially enjoy picnicking on the rocks above the pool while gazing down at the crystalline waters.
For those trekking near Chio, the pools at Las Moradas are equally idyllic. Located within the verdant laurel forest, these natural swimming holes cascade down a volcano's slopes via a network of mini waterfalls. Hikers talk of relaxing on the sun-warmed rocks as the flowing waters gently lap against their toes. The tranquil setting is ideal for savoring a snack or meal while being serenaded by birdsong echoing through the trees.
Not all the water-based recreation requires getting wet, however. On the northwestern edge of Teide National Park, the Chinyero trail delivers hikers to a stunning basalt amphitheater dotted with caves. Often filled by rainwater, this rocky basin reflects the blue skies like a mirror. When dry, its flat floor makes for the ultimate picnic spot surrounded by volcanic formations.
Conquer the 'Machu Picchu of Tenerife' on this Epic Hike in Spain's Canary Islands - Getting Away from the Tourist Crowds in Tenerife's Rugged Interior
For many visitors, Tenerife brings to mind packed beaches and bustling resort towns teeming with sun-seekers. But beyond the island’s coastal crowds awaits a wildly different experience in the rugged interior. Here, lonely hiking trails deliver you to silent badlands at the foot of Mount Teide. It’s a chance to feel true solitude and immerse yourself in raw natural beauty.
“Hiking into Teide’s interior showed me a completely different side of Tenerife,” shares Andreu V., who revels in escaping crowds. “You can walk for miles without seeing another soul, just surrounded by these crazy volcanic landscapes. It’s so rejuvenating.”
One excellent destination for solitude is the stark Malpaís de Güímar pahoehoe lava fields sprawling south of Mount Teide. Formed from one of the volcano’s eruptions, it’s a haunting world of twisted obsidian formations and lava bubbles frozen in time. The only sound is the wind whistling eerily through rocky ravines.
“Hiking the Malpaís was almost spooky since we didn’t see a single other person,” says Clara S. “But the lava fields were incredible to see up close, especially the ropey pahoehoe lava. It was like walking on another planet!”
The terrain near the tiny village of Arico also promises isolation amid rugged beauty. Trails here lead through the mountainous Teno massif, where canyon walls close in, painted in earthy ochres and golds. You’ll find respite from the sun beneath pine and laurel forest canopies. Hikers gush over the profound quiet, interrupted just by birdsong.
“Teno blew my mind with its colors and serenity,” shares Lea R. “Once you leave Arico, it feels totally cut off from the world, especially when you’re deep in those forests. The silence is so medicinal.”
For many Tenerife hikers, however, the Mt. Teide badlands offer the ultimate in crowd-free hiking. This high-altitude moonscape of volcanic rubble lies engulfed in silence, with only the wind as company. Standing small amid these rugged geological formations recalibrates the senses.
“When hiking Teide’s badlands, it was just me, the rocks, and endless sky,” Lea says. “Reaching areas so remote and inhospitable was profoundly moving. That perfect solitude is something you can only find deep in Tenerife's interior.”