After a terrific month on Tenerife, where we did a fair bit of hiking, for some reason we upped the activity quotient even further for our last 10 days in Europe, hitting the nearby island of La Gomera, which is even more famous for its nature trails. In addition to a steeply sloped terrain leading from the remains of an old volcano in the middle of the island down to the rocky and expansive coastline, La Gomera is generally considered the best of all the Canarian islands when it comes to hiking. 10 nights, 9 days, 8 very different hikes.
With more hikes to choose from than Tenerife, and far less online information, we chose to purchase a highly recommended guidebook: La Gomera: The Finest Coastal and Mountain Walks (Rother) and found it very useful. It was excellent for helping us choose which routes to hike from among the surprisingly wide variety of trails. The only thing every hike had in common – lots of hills. I challenge you to find a flat spot anywhere on La Gomera. The maps weren’t the most detailed, but we typically used Wikiloc to get a more specific look at turns and such.
- Bailadero – Los Roques – La Laja (Wikiloc 21434204)
9 km loop, 3-4 hrs – strenuous
Stunning hike along the Roques ridge, then way down to La Laja (cute village), then all the way back up to Mirador Bailadero on some rough, rocky trail. Great views all the way but the stretch between La Laja and Bailadero is not for the faint of heart. Steep, with lots of scrambling and slippery in parts. I definitely do NOT recommend doing it in the opposite direction. Much easier going up that part than down. And don’t try it in the rain. Besides all that, thought, this was probably the most scenic hike we did on Gomera. We started in Bailadero to do a little bit of the uphill at the beginning instead of all at the end, but there is more parking at La Zarcita if all three spots are taken at Bailadero. All in all, well worth it if you’re up for the challenge. Like hiking in the Rockies, but with cacti growing next to the pine trees.
- Barranco de Guarimiar (Wikiloc 21394960)
11 km loop, 4 hrs – strenuous
Spectacular hike starting at the cute little village of Imada and heading down the Guarimiar gorge. Long, scenic downhill, tough, scenic uphill, then a bit of road walking through Targa and Alojera, then some more great views on your way back into Imada. Amazing hike, but I wouldn’t try it in the rain, if you are uncomfortable hiking down steep rocky trail or don’t like heights.
- Cumbre de Chijeré (Wikiloc 21363502 starting in Santa Clara, 2338613 from Vallehermoso)
13 km loop, 4-5 hours – strenuous on the climb to Santa Clara, the rest is easy
A long, tough hike with great views basically the whole way. It is also handy because you can start and end in Vallehermoso. From Vallehermoso to Ermita Santa Clara on foot you gain about 500 m altitude over 4 km hiking steadily uphill through some nice valleys and gorges, but we did it a little differently than most. Laynni wasn’t feeling great so we drove up to Ermita Santa Clara (the high point of the hike) – about half of which was on the highway, the last half on a tiny dirt path that runs precariously along the outside of a steep ridge. We did it in a tiny rental car, so it was manageable, but avoid this if you don’t like driving on the edge of a cliff. From Santa Clara it is a pleasant gradual descent along a ridge with expansive views (including Mount Teide on Tenerife if it is clear enough) for about an hour when you reach a particularly good viewpoint, then you head straight down to the bottom of the valley with good views back up toward Vallehermoso. It is not particularly difficult but you’d want to use caution if it happened to rain (sensing a theme here?). Then an easy uphill stroll from near the beach back up to the town. Of course, I still had the big climb back to Santa Clara to get the car, but you will probably get this part taken care of while your legs are still fresh. Great hike with views of the ocean, valley, ridges and distant Teide.
- Chipude to La Fortaleza (Wikiloc 21372766)
5 km return, 2 hrs (including time at the top) – moderate
The views to exertion ratio on this one is terrific. The climb up La Fortaleza is steep and rocky but short. You’ll have to do some clambering and will find yourself pretty close to some long drops, so it is not a hike for those with limited agility or a fear of heights. For the rest, though, the ridge at the top is almost a rock bridge, and the views from each side of the summit are pretty amazing. Make sure you follow the trail all the way to the end to get the best panoramic.
The guidebook starts this hike in the little village of Chipude, and that is probably where it is easiest to park, but if you want to shorten it further you could easily knock off another kilometre each way by driving past Chipude to where the trail starts to climb. You can’t really miss it.
- Agulo – Mirador Abrante – El Roquillo (Wikiloc 21410495)
7 km loop, 2-3 hrs – strenuous
You have to climb straight up the side of the cliff to get to the mirador, but the views are outstanding the whole way. Then there is the glass-bottom mirador and restaurant (and road and parking lot). After continuing on a little bit past the mirador you can choose to continue up to the visitor centre (which adds a kilometre each way), or can just cut across to El Roquillo. The way down isn’t too steep in this direction, but if you go the other way it definitely would be. Altogether, a nice hike to and from a nice village.
- Alto de Garajonay from El Contadero (Wikiloc 21650241)
2.8 km return, 1 hr (from El Contadero) – easy
Maybe the most famous spot on the island, it is definitely the highest. The hike is easy – either an hour loop from El Contadero or 3.6 km each way from Pajaritos – but this is all about the big views at the top so make sure you tackle it on a nice clear day. If the skies cooperate you’ll see El Hierro, La Palma and maybe even Gran Canaria, while Mount Teide sits there in plain sight right next door. 360 degree views like this aren’t usually so easy to get to.
- Playa de la Caleta – Punta San Lorenzo (Wikiloc 21457096)
5 km return, 1 ½ – easy
Easy, scenic hike along the cliffs just next to Hermigua. Views of the beach, Teide and Tenerife, and the ruins of a former dock at the end. The trailhead is at the last hairpin just before the beach and there are a couple parking spots. The drive in is pretty sketchy but if you’ve done much driving on La Gomera then you’ll be used to that by now.
- Raso de Bruma (Rother 28)
3 km return, less than an hour – easy
Short hike through tropical forest. The first time we tried to do the Barranco de Guamiriar hike the trail was clouded in but we set out anyway, then after it started raining and we received a number of dire warnings from a (possibly crazy) old farmer digging seemingly random holes we turned around and went back to Imada, to be saved for another day. Since the clouds didn’t seem to be letting up anywhere else, either, we chose an easy forest hike near the road instead. There were a couple miradores which provided expansive views of whiteness, but these would probably be more interesting in better weather. The mossy trees and thick undergrowth were suitably fascinating, though, and well worth a short stop on your way to or from Vallehermoso. It starts near the Las Cruces bus shelter about 1 km north of the Las Hayas turn-off on GM 2.
So there you have it, a nicely varied cross-section of hikes in all different areas around the island. Obviously, there are dozens more worthy choices and, honestly, with an island built like this you’d be hard-pressed to find a poor hike. But this list should give you a pretty good starting point. Feel free to message me if you have any questions.