El Pilar Walk
This 6.5km walk, as described in detail in “Walking La Palma” by Charles Davis and Jan Kostura is a circular trail, which we started and ended at El Pilar refuge, high up in the hills of La Palma.
The road up to El Pilar (LP-301) is worth a paragraph in itself. If coming from the El Paso direction on the main LP-2, the turn-off is just before the Cumbre tunnel, and takes you up a gradual ascent to the ridge of the Cumbre Nueva, where El Pilar is located. Prior to reaching the ridge, you drive around a few volcanoes, the black lava landscape providing a dramatic contrast to the lush forest behind, and green slopes of the plateau below. At one point you can stop at a signposted mirador with fantastic views in all directions. Further on up the road and you enter the dark green forest of the Cumbre Nueva; at El Pilar there is ample parking, an information centre, toilets, playground and campsite. There is even a burger van.
To commence the walk we started at the highest point, a slight deviation from the route detailed in “Walking La Palma”. This involved a short climb on the LP-301 to its summit. The road turns to the right, the trail to the left. The path we were supposed to take for a brief distance- the GR-131- runs parallel with a track which runs all the way along the ridge. Not being overly observant, we ended up on this track for about 5 minutes, only noticing later the path we were supposed to be on in the undergrowth of the forest. This was a lucky mistake though, as we came across a clearing where the forest had been cut to run some pylons. The views from this vantage point were incredible. Being on the ridge you could look out to both the East and the West sides of the island. We could see Mount Teide, Tenerife in the distance. After stopping for a few snaps, we walked back the way we came, but along the correct GR131, to the point where it meets the PRLP-18, our next part of the trail.
The PRLP-18 section is a downhill forested path, a very pretty tranquil trail that antakes you through the laurisilva (laurel wood) to Pared Vieja, another recreational area found on the eastern side of the mountain. Once you reach Pared Vieja you follow a fairly non descript track (the SL-132), with a gradual ascent but very easy walking. There are no views or discernable features until you turn off this track onto a small footpath to the right (you need the book to establish where all the correct turnoffs are as the paths are unclassified). The path we took gets very overgrown but takes you up over the terraces, where again the views of Mount Teide are stunning.
This path eventually takes you to the PRLP17, whereupon it’s a hard slog back up the hill through the forest again. Eventually you cross the main road (LP301), which you can either follow back to El Pilar, or follow the footpath through the recreation area back to your car.
This walk is definitely best done on a clear day, so as to enjoy the views. It took us about 3 hours, factoring in wrong turns and a few breaks, of which about a quarter is fairly strenuous. The rest is pretty easy walking. It’s a good option if you want to stretch your legs and see some lovely scenery, but not go on epic route march to do it. I imagine it would be pretty grim and cold in the rain though, so if there are clouds in the Cumbre I’d suggest leaving it for another day.
Links to More Walks
Walking Peurto Pollenca To Cala San Vincente, Spain, Balearic Islands, Majorca
Puig De Maria Monastery Walk, Spain, Balearic Islands, Majorca
Boquer Valley Walking, Spain, Balearic Islands, Majorca
Fuencaliente To Los Llanos De Aridance Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
Pista De Los Lomos Santa Cruz Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
Cubo De La Galga Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
El Guro Waterfall Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Gomera
Rincon To Malaga Walk, Spain, Andalusia, Malaga
Caldera De Taburiente Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
El Pilar Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma
Caldera De Taburiente Waterfall Walk, Spain, Canary Islands, La Palma