The Cares Route is one of the most beautiful and impressive we can do in the Picos de Europa. Named the ‘Garganta Divina’ (Divine Throat), it covers 12 kilometres (24 roundtrips) between the Asturian town of Poncebos-Arenas de Cabrales and the Leonese town of Caín.
It is a relatively accessible route as long as we know the details of it because, not in vain, the gorge created by the river Cares, which divides the central massif from the western Picos de Europa, is surrounded by mountains over 2,000 meters high, so it depends on the time of year, we will be more or less bearable.
How to get to Poncebos and Cain?
If we want to start the Cares Route from Caín arriving from Asturias, we will take the N-625 road in Cangas de Onís towards Riaño. There we will find a detour to Posada de Valdeón and from there to Caín. From León we will do the same, arriving until Riaño and following the previous indications.
If our intention is to start in Poncebos, our first stop will be Arenas de Cabrales, where we will arrive by the AS-114. In the village there is a descent where we will take the road that takes us to Poncebos (it is almost five kilometres).
On which side do I start doing the Cares Route?
The Route of the Cares has as difficulty the length. It’s 12 kilometres one way, which will take us about three or four hours, so if we’re not used to walking or we’re not very sporty, maybe we should consider doing just the one way, as 24 kilometres could make us very heavy.
If we decide to make only the outward journey, the recommendation is to start from Caín because from the Asturian side we are going to find ‘the hill’, a two-kilometre climb which is undoubtedly the hardest part of the route.
It is also true that the area of Cain, if we are not going to do the route of 12 kilometers and we simply want to know a part, is more spectacular. Let’s not forget that we will be ‘boxed’ between a wall and a precipice, with the river Cares below, along a path between one and three meters wide.
If we want to do the 24 kilometres, the ideal is to start in Poncebos, bearing in mind that in the middle of the high season (July, August or Easter is very crowded) we are going to have a hard time parking despite the parking facilities in the town itself and in Arenas de Cabrales where a bus service makes it easier for us to get to Poncebos.
12 tips and recommendations to make this Route
Autumn and spring are ideal because of the temperature and because the road is not so crowded. In summer, especially July and August, and Easter, it can be overwhelming.
2.Bring water and food.
There are no fountains or restaurants along the route so there is plenty of water, especially in summer, and if you are going to do the route slowly or back and forth, don’t forget food. Remember to pick up the trash and keep the route clean.
3.Wear comfortable footwear and clothes suitable for the season in which you make the Cares Route.
Don’t forget that you are in high mountain and a raincoat and warm clothes should always go with you.
4.He’s got his cell phone loaded.
In some areas there is no coverage but it is convenient to carry the phone operational in case anything happens.
5.Kids, yes or no?
Depends. In the Cares Route there are no handrails so it is recommended that children have an appropriate age and sufficient physical endurance. From the age of 10 it is a good route to do it with them but if they are younger they can get too tired or put themselves in danger if they let go. It is recommended that children go without a backpack, hand in hand and glued to the side of the wall, if they are small in baby carriers, and always controlled by the narrowness of the road, stopping if we come across other walkers and having a lot of patience.
6.You can’t do the route on a bicycle.
It is forbidden because we could endanger hikers and there are areas where it would be very annoying, for example in tunnels.
7.Watch the weather.
If we go in winter, we must be very careful with the snow. It is rare that it falls in Poncebos but it does fall in Posada de Valdeón, a situation that would make it impossible to reach Caín. On the other hand, let’s not forget that we are surrounded by large massifs and their peaks will be snowed in winter, which means that snow may fall or further ahead, when spring approaches, the thaw will play some bad trick on us. Both the thaw and rain can drag stones and we must be careful if the weather is not favorable.
8.Dogs, yes or no?
It’s allowed to take our dog if he’s properly tied up.
9.If you’re dizzy, don’t do the Cares Route.
Narrow roads, precipice on one side and no railings and bridges over the Cares River, are not great allies for people with vertigo. The route does not have ‘shortcuts’ or can be abandoned until you reach your destination so it is advisable not to start it if we will not be able to finish it.
Along the route we will probably come across mountain goats, queens of the peaks in the Picos de Europa, so we must be careful with possible rock falls that may cause. It is also preferable to leave them alone as they are wild animals.
11. The route starts early.
Especially in summer, as temperatures are rising and it is advisable to get up early. This advice is not only to park, but to avoid crowds on the road and heat overwhelm us.
12.Organize the Cares Route in advance.
It is true that there are hotels and restaurants in the surroundings of Poncebos, such as Arenas de Cabrales, and Caín. But if we are going to want to stay or eat in those areas, especially during the busy season, it is better to do things with time so as not to be surprised.