When planning our vacation to the Canary Islands, we knew we wanted to visit Tenerife, but we were unsure which other islands to see. Our choice to visit La Palma was clear when we discovered La Palma’s nickname is La Isla Bonita (The beautiful island) and the entire island is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Add to this an ample number of volcanoes and we knew there would be a lot of amazing La Palma hiking trails.
We explored every corner of La Isla Bonita and discovered some amazing La Palma hikes to share with you. Note, that even though we visited La Palma with kids and did all these hikes with them, not all of these are your ‘typical’ kid-friendly hikes.
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6 Best Hiking Trails in La Palma
1. Pico Bejenado Hike (Mirador de la Cumbrecita)
If you are a regular hiker and are looking for a challenging La Palma hiking trail, we highly recommend the Pico Bejenado hike in the Mirador de la Cumbrecita area of Caldera de Taburiente National Park. We did a lot of hiking on La Palma, and this was our favorite hiking trail on the island. In fact, the Pico Bejenado trail is one of the most rewarding and scenic hikes we’ve done anywhere in the world.
The incredible scenery of the Mirador de la Cumbrecita area begins the moment you step out of your car. Pica Corralejo (2,044 m) instantly makes you feel small, towering over 700 m (2,300 ft) overhead.
The Pico Bejenado trailhead is found in the opposite direction of Pico Corralejo. The hiking trail to the amazing Mirador de la Cumbrecita viewpoint is a good workout, as it begins uphill and stays that way pretty much until you reach Pico Bejenado 4.1 km (2.5 mi) later.
As you begin to get higher, take a moment to look to your right for some incredible views of the rock walls all around the caldera – some of the peaks across the caldera are over 1,000 m (3,300 ft) higher than you are. Caldera de Taburiente National Park is truly one of the main reasons why La Palma has earned the nickname the beautiful island (la isla bonita).
The initial ascent on the Pico Bejenado hike is challenging, with many switchbacks to contend with, but you’ll be walking through a beautiful forest of Canarian pine trees. If you are lucky, there will be a carpet of beautiful yellow wildflowers on the forest floor.
There are a few spots where the Pico Bejenado trail reaches a viewpoint of the caldera. Take a moment to stop, soak in the caldera views and have a few sips of water from your hydration pack.
After 1.6 km of climbing, you’ll reach the top of the ridge, allowing you to look down into the caldera as well as the views outside the caldera. The ocean comes into view and you can also see the brave villages settled just outside the caldera. We love the dual views that walking on a mountain ridge provides.
After approximately 800 m (0.5 miles) of reasonably flat and very scenic ridge hiking, you’ll reach the summit of El Topo (1,601 m). The flat ridge walk is a great opportunity to give your legs a well-deserved rest as the Pico Bejenado trail starts to climb again beyond El Topo.
As you begin the final ascent, Pico Bejenado is straight ahead. You’ll start to notice that the volcanic rock surrounding the trail is much newer and more jagged than the well-eroded rock at the beginning of the Pico Bejenado hike.
As we left El Topo, we began to trek into the clouds, and there’s a good chance you’ll hike through the clouds at some point as well. If the clouds do roll in on your Pico Bejenado hike don’t worry as the forest scenery continues to be amazing, even a little bit spooky. The Canarian pine trees, growing in fields of jagged volcanic rock with wildflowers all around combine to make one of the most beautiful forests we’ve ever seen.
As you near the summit of Pico Bejenado, the trail is along a tight ridge. We hiked above the cloud deck and were lucky enough to have earned some amazing views of the caldera. There are plenty of spots to stop and have lunch, take pictures, etc. and simply soak in the spectacular views that makes Caldera de Taburiente National Park so special.
Tips for Hiking Pico Bejenado
When hiking in the Mirador de la Cumbrecita area, keep in mind the hiking trail starts around 1,300 m (4,260 ft) above sea level, so due to the high altitudes the temperature will be much cooler than down below. The volcanic peaks have very dynamic weather, with clouds appearing and disappearing all day long. It’s very important that you dress in layers and have a day bag big enough to store them if you don’t need them.
Parking in the Mirador de la Cumbrecita area is extremely limited and you will not be allowed up without a parking reservation. Be sure to make your Mirador de la Cumbrecita parking reservation as early as possible to guarantee your ability to see this incredible part of Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
If the Pico Bejenado hike sounds too difficult, there is an easier 3 km hiking route within Mirador de la Cumbrecita which leads you to two viewpoints: Mirador Lomo de las Chozas and Mirador de los Roques.
2. Los Tilos Espigón Atravesado Hike (LP 6)
One of the main reasons we chose La Palma for Canary Islands family vacation was that the entire island is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Prior to the entire island receiving this designation, Los Tilos was the only UNESCO biosphere reserve on La Palma. Los Tilos is a magical rainforest filled with a great variety of wildlife and beautiful plants. It’s a very lush laurel forest and will feel more damp and cooler than outside the biosphere park.
One of the best hiking trails within Los Tilos called the Espigón Atravesado trail. This 6.5 km (4 mi) Los Tilos hiking trail follows the path of an old dirt road on the upper slopes of a river valley to a spectacular viewpoint overlooking the Parque Natural de Las Nieves.
The Espigón Atravesado trailhead is approximately 500 m (1,600ft) before the Los Tilos visitors centre. The hiking trail begins uphill and remains uphill virtually the entire way to the mirador (viewpoint).
The hiking trail is not very rocky and the incline is quite gradual, so the walking is pretty easy. The best part is that the Espigón Atravesado trail is a well maintained path wide enough for vehicles, which allows family members or friends to walk side-by-side. We like wide hiking trails as it allows easier conversation, etc..
One of my favorite parts about the Espigón Atravesado trail in Los Tilos is the constant sound of birds singing. The birdsong literally never ends the entire time you are hiking along the trail. We even heard the sound of several owls along the route, but they are so difficult to spot in the wild, that we never actually saw an owl.
Very early in the Espigón Atravesado hike, the trail enters a long tunnel. It’s short enough that you can see light on the other end, but it’s long enough that it gets pretty dark inside. Kids of all ages LOVE hiking through tunnels and this one will be a great thrill. If you can, bring a head torch to help you see, but your mobile phone flashlight will barely suffice.
The rainforest surrounding the Espigón Atravesado hike is magical – it’s easy to see why it was the original UNESCO biosphere reserve on La Palma island. Vines hang down from the trees, moss covers everything, while lush ferns and wildflowers are growing everywhere. As you are often hiking along the side of a ravine, you can often hear the sound of the river flowing below.
Many of the trees growing along the trail are “Til” trees (also known as “greenheart” trees). These giant trees grow to 25 – 30 m (100 ft) tall and are the namesake trees for the Los Tilos park.
The approach to the final viewpoint on the Espigón Atravesado hiking trail is up a set of stone stairs along a narrow ridge. There are wooden fences for safety where appropriate. From the elevated viewpoint, you can really appreciate how lush this rainforest really is. The views of the Los Tilos UNESCO biosphere reserve from this viewpoint are incredible.
Los Tilos Espigón Atravesado Safety Notes
We should note that there is a sign at the Los Tilos Espigón Atravesado trailhead which warns hikers about the extreme dangers of this hike, which almost caused us to turn back and look for alternate La Palma hiking trails. But we decided to try it and simply turn back if we thought it was too dangerous.
There are two dangers to be aware of on the Espigón Atravesado hike:
- The dark tunnel: From the entrance, you can see the light at the far side of the tunnel, so it’s never pitch black. We recommend bringing a head lamp with you, but realistically you can likely make it without one. There is a tripping hazard if you don’t have adequate lighting.
- The drop-offs: The Espigón Atravesado hike has some extremely dangerous drop-offs on the side of the trail – high enough to likely be fatal. That said, the hiking trail is very wide and it’s very easy to stay far away from the extreme danger.
We are not guaranteeing your safety – the decision to do the Espigón Atravesado hike rests entirely with you, but in our opinion, the dangers described by the sign are much scarier than the reality.
If you have time after the Espigón Atravesado hike, head on down to the Los Tilos visitor center, where you will find excellent information and displays about the Parque Natural de Las Nieves.
3. Cascada de Los Tilos Waterfall Trail
If you are visiting the Los Tilos park on La Palma, take some time to enjoy the easy hike to the Los Tilos waterfall. The trailhead for the waterfall trail is just before the Los Tilos visitor center.
This very popular, short Los Tilos hike follows the path of a canal filled with flowing water from the waterfall just ahead. Another reason why the Cascada de Los Tilos hike is such a fun thing to do in La Palma is the long, illuminated tunnels you get to walk through.
The Los Tilos waterfall itself is quite beautiful. The spray from the Los Tilos waterfall is unique as it falls outwards from the cliff, instead of falling straight down. Watch your step as the outward spray causes the entire valley floor to be very moist, damp and slippery.
If you’d like to get a picture up close to the waterfall, there are stairs leading up to an excellent viewpoint.
4. Cascada de Colores Hike in Caldera de Taburiente
Another scenic and highly enjoyable hike in Caldera de Taburiente National Park is the Cascada de Colores trail. Hikers follow the shores of the Barranco de las Angustias stream as it flows out of the famous La Palma caldera.
The Cascada de Colores trail leads you into a very interesting and beautiful river valley. The landscape along Barranco de las Angustias is constantly changing – at times you’ll be walking through fields of massive volcanic boulders, while others you’ll be at the bottom of towering rock walls. When you venture far enough along the Cascada de Colores trail, you will be rewarded with views of the jagged rocky peaks from the caldera itself.
It’s hard not to love the Cascada de Colores trail. For a large portion of this La Palma adventure, you simply hike along the shores of a gentle stream, hopping over it from time to time when your path runs out. It’s a fun challenge to find the best spots to jump over the stream, followed by your attempt to successfully jump over the water. Failed attempts are great for entertaining the rest of your hiking group! (It’s best to wear water resistant hiking shoes just in case).
We didn’t make it to the end of our hike due to weather-related safety concerns, but there is a unique, rewarding waterfall at end of the Cascada de Colors hike. Hikers reaching the end will be rewarded with a beautiful waterfall, where the water flowing downstream is a different color.
Cascada de Colores Safety Considerations
Your Pace Will Be Slower Than Usual
While the overall distance of the Cascada de Colores hike is within the capabilities of most hikers, the unstable footing along the riverbed and the time required to find ways to cross the stream will likely slow you down. With a slower than usual pace, make sure you leave yourself extra time to do the full distance of the hike, and especially enough time to get back to the trailhead. The entire Cascada de Colores hike is so beautiful and enjoyable, it’s not a huge deal if you don’t see the waterfall at the end.
Watch for Rain in the Forecast
As with most volcanoes, the Caldera de Taburiente is basically one giant bowl. Hikers need to keep in mind that any rainfall within the caldera flows down into the middle and leaves the bowl via a single stream – the Barranco de las Angustias. This hike is beautiful as it follows the shores of the Barranco de las Angustias, but it can also be dangerous because if it.
If your weather forecast calls for a rainy day, consider one of the other La Palma hiking trails, or be very cautious about how far you go. We turned back before reaching the final waterfall as there was rain in the forecast for the afternoon. Better safe than sorry.
Look For Safer Hiking Routes
We found it useful to follow our progress using the Cascada de Colores trail map on AllTrails. Using the trail map, you can bypass several dangerous areas by going around on a side trail. AllTrails helps identify these safer trails, which most people on the river trail missed.
Unlike the Pico Bejenado hike in the Mirador de la Cumbrecita area of the national park, the Cascada de Colores trail is in the lower valley section. There are no parking reservations required for the medium sized parking lot at the Cascada de Colores trailhead. Given parking space is limited, we advise you arrive at the trailhead as early as you can.
If you prefer to enjoy this La Palma hike with a group or to learn more about the area, you can see the Cascada de Colores waterfall on this guided tour of Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
5. San Antonio Volcano Crater Walk
One of the many reasons hiking in La Palma is so enjoyable is all the volcanoes. Hiking along the rim of a volcano crater is always a memorable experience in La Palma. One of the easiest ways to walk along the rim of a volcano crater is at the San Antonio Volcano in southern La Palma.
Before hiking to the crater, take a moment to learn about the geological history of this active volcanic island. The visitor centre has kept current, with captivating footage of the November 2021 Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption.
A hike to the rim of a volcano sounds hard and steep, but in fact this one of the easiest La Palma hiking trails. The path to the rim of the San Antonio volcano begins through the visitors centre. Even if you are not hiking with kids, be sure to stop and try the earthquake simulator near the trailhead – you are guaranteed to have a ton of laughs!!
The hiking trail is only 500 m (0.3 mi) long to the lookout point atop the San Antonio volcano. The trail surface begins paved, transitions to crushed gravel, then to real volcanic rock. Despite the short length of this trail, proper hiking shoes are recommended due to the uneven volcanic rock.
Before long you’ll be able to see down into the crater of the San Antonio volcano, which last erupted in 1677. It’s amazing to see life continuing on as a pine forest is thriving below.
From the San Antonio crater hike, you’ll also enjoy fabulous views of the La Palma coastline and ocean. You’ll also notice an abundance of vineyards downslope of the volcano. These are primarily Llanos Negros vineyards – a grape which makes a famous regional wine.
6. The Teneguia Volcano Loop Trail
Prior to the November 2021 Cumbre Vieja volcanic eruption on La Palma, the most recent eruption was on Teneguia in 1971. Given the San Antonio volcano hike is short and easy, we recommend adding on the very scenic, longer hike to the nearby Teneguia volcano.
There are many hiking routes between the San Antonio volcano and the Teneguia volcano, so downloading a hiking map from AllTrails will help guide you. This trail map isn’t perfect as it doesn’t factor in recently built fences around the San Antonio visitor centre, but it’s close enough to be useful.
Despite what AllTrails says, you have to leave the San Antonio visitor centre to get to the Teneguia volcano trailhead. From here, the hike is an enjoyable downhill walk through a Canarian pine forest with a carpet of many beautiful wild flowers.
At bottom of the hill, you’ll turn left onto the “Rutas de Volcanoes”, the Route of the Volcanoes. From this wide hiking trail you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the La Palma coastline, including views of the ‘new’ black lava which flowed into the sea from the 1971 eruption.
After 2.5 km of hiking the Roque Teneguia comes into view. This large volcanic rock is an important archaeological site with hundreds of petroglyphs. If you take the side trip to Roque Teneguia, please do not touch them to help preserve them for generations to come.
Around the 4 km (2.5 mi) mark, you’ll turn right to hike up the lower slopes of Teneguia volcano. The black and red lava rock surrounding the trail is amazing and gives an otherworldly feeling to the hike. If you look closely at some of the volcanic rocks, you can see the ripples of the lava which cooled as it was flowing towards the sea.
Along the hiking trail to the Teneguia volcano, you’ll see a small, but very well formed volcanic cone to your left. There’s an amazing variety of colors in the volcanic rock along this stretch.
Note: You can no longer hike to the summit of the Teneguia volcano as the trail has been closed by park authorities.
From the Teneguia volcano, you can either walk back up the way you came, or you can continue on to make a full circumnavigation of the San Antonio volcano. We did the full loop and really enjoyed it.
Beyond the Teneguia volcano, you can get really close to the Llanos Negros vineyards. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be able to see some grapes on the vines. Being early in the season, they were very tiny when we hiked this volcano loop.
With the steep descent down at the beginning of the hike to the Teneguia volcano, there has to be a steep uphill back up. At least this time, you’ll be able to hike up through some vineyards, and past a beekeeper’s hives. There are tons of flowers alongside the trail, so you will get plenty of bees. The bees were all content to fly to the flowers and largely left us alone.
The final stretch of hiking trail back to the San Antonio volcano visitor centre walks along the ridge of a very tall hill. You’ll enjoy an amazing view of the Teneguia volcano from a different angle, and on a clear day you can see the nearby Canary Islands of La Gomera and El Hierro.
That’s it! We hope you’ll enjoy these amazing La Palma hiking trails as much as we did!