The worn out Camino de la Candelaria
Camino de la Candelaria is a pilgrimage trail, which runs from the north coast of Tenerife to the Sanctuario of Candelaria in the south of the island. It follows age old trails which have been established in pre-Hispanic times by the original inhabitants of the Canarian Islands, the Guanches. The pilgrimage trail scales the Cumbre Dorsal Range approximately in its middle, at the Crucita Saddle (Degollada de la Crucita), which is overlooked by the summit of Montaña la Crucita.
Today the pilgrimage trail is still in use, especially during the Canarian holidays, but also at all times of the year by sincere tourist hikers. While the routes up to the Cumbre Dorsal Range are quite easy, they still scale about 1000m of elevation from Aguamansa in the north and 1600m (!!!) of elevation from Arafo in the south.
The northern route for most of the time runs through dense forests of Canarian pines with the pilgrimage trail worn down into the sides of the mountain like narrow bobsled runs. The upper part of the trail runs along beautiful reddish (or downright red) slopes of tuff and only in the topmost part you will encounter pines again.
Follow the instructions on the main page which lead to the picnic area at La Caldera above Aguamansa. There are several possible routes up the mountain, one of which makes a long detour across the Òrganos Rocks. The route described here, follows the pilgrimage trail directly, however.
The Orotava Valley seen from Camino de la Candelaria
- Start altitude: 1070m
- Summit altitude: 2054m
- Prevailing exposure: N
- Type: 2 - 3h one way
- Protection: None
Effort: 1000m elevation gain
Power: 2 - Long and tiring
Psyche: 1 - Easy
Orientation: 1 - Easy - except for the small pine covered summit cone
From the circullar road around the picnic area at La Caldera several hiking trails head upwards through the forest towards the ridge of the Cumbre Dorsal. However, there is only one road, which heads out in south-easterly direction (signs Los Òrganos, Pedro Gil). Right befor the road turns sharply eastwards across a creek the Candelaria Route starts to its right side. Signs still direct you towards the log cabin of Pedro Gil but the pilgrimage trail can't be missed. It is worn into the slopes of the mountain, often forming trench-like grooves, sometimes several of them.
The chutes head up in switchbacks, crossing a couple of other trails (to the cabins of Pedro Gil and Chimoche). At about 1500m you cross the "timberline" as you head out into a reddish lava desolation beneath the Cumbre Dorsal Ridge. This part of the trail offers the best views, the summit of Montaña la Crucita included. The path turns eastward in a wide sweeping curve and traverses a wide cinder valley before disappearing in the pine forest again. Close to theCumbre Dorsal Ridge the path gets very steep and there are some short scrambling sections. Finally you head out on the highway at the Crucita Saddle, from where a barely visible path leads up to Montaña la Crucita itself.
Essential GearBring hiking gear and lots of water. The trail can be slippery thanks to the long and soft pine needles. For descending back to La Caldera you definitely need good profiled soles.
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