La Gomera Valle Gran Rey – large circular hike on a small island

Das Valle Gran Rey mit seinen bunten Häusern.


Great circular walk around the Valle Gran Rey

Hiking path in Valle Gran Rey direction La Mantanza

Today I present a big circular walk through the Valle Gran Rey on the small Canarian island La Gomera. The Valle Gran Rey is the valley of the great king and offers for hikers truly royal hiking tours. A very special hiking route is a big round tour around the whole valley, in which you can see the Valle Gran Rey from every side and height. This circular hike lasts over 8 hours and takes you high up to the peaks of the mountains. Wonderful views far over the valley with fantastic views of the neighbouring islands and the Atlantic Ocean.

Who now thinks: “this is much too long and exhausting for me”. In fact, you can also hike on this round trip. Since it is a round tour, it can be divided into many small sections. Thus, those who want to get to know the Valle Gran Rey a little more leisurely while hiking can simply choose some interesting sections from the big circular hike.

Track of the large circular hike around Valle Gran Rey

General information Valle Gran Rey Circular

Route length: 21 kilometres

Hiking time: approx. 8 hours

Differences in altitude: The hike goes from 1060 metres down to almost sea level and up again. In total there are 1560 meters in the ascent and descent.

Elevation profile of the large hike in Valle Gran Rey

Starting point/end point: Las Hayas (approx. 1000 m), Restaurant Casa Efigenia (La Montana). In Las Hayas several hiking routes start and end. Detailed hiking boards provide information about the individual hiking tours.

View of the high plateau

Arrival:

By car: from the centre of the island or Vallehermoso via the island road TF-713 (CV-15). Coming from the centre of the island in a westerly direction, turn left from the TF-713 onto the Ruta de los Roques de la Gomera (CV-18). After a short time the road Carretera Arure-Las Hayas branches off to the right. Follow the road to the village of Las Hayas. At the beginning of the village, Calle de la Cabecitos turns right. After a short time you will find the Restaurant Efigenia on this street.

Parking spaces: available in the town centre and at the restaurant.

signpost

Bus: If you arrive by bus, you can use bus lines 1, 4 and 6.

1 (Valle Gran Rey-San Sebastian)

4 (Vallehermoso-La Dama)

6 (Valle Gran Rey Airport)

More information about the buses you will find on the homepage Guaguas Gomera.

Challenge and Variants

Challenge: This tour is a long, strenuous hike (21 kilometres). It is therefore only suitable for hikers with good physical condition. In some cases, sure-footedness and a head for heights are required. If the whole tour is too strenuous for you, you can easily choose individual sections and hike them from one place to the next. The trail leads through several villages (Las Hayas, Arure, La Calera, El Cercado), so there are several opportunities to stop for refreshments along the way. Nevertheless, take enough water with you for the sections in between.

Banana plants in Valle Gran Rey

Variants: As this is a large circular hike, the entry and exit points can be at any point on the tour. And of course, individual sections of the route can also be hiked individually. For lovers of “downhill hikes” it is also possible to halve the distance. The starting point remains Las Hayas and the hike goes either via Arure to La Calera or via El Cercado to La Calera. The same applies to hikers who prefer to hike upwards (perhaps to spare their knees). Then La Calera offers itself as a starting point. The hike then goes to Las Hayas either via Arure or El Cercado.

Bus lines at all places of the hike

Las Hayas; 1 (Valle Gran Rey-San Sebastian), 4 (Vallehermoso-La Dama),

6 (Valle Gran Rey Airport)

Arure (Bus lines 1 and 6)

La Calera (bus lines 1 and 6)

El Cercado (bus lines 1, 4 and 6)

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Refreshment for the dog in the water of the gorge

Hiking with dog: Since I always have my four-legged friend with me, I gladly give a few tips for hikers who are also on the road with dog. Of course, the dog must also be in good condition for this tour. There is water on the way not only in the places, but also from time to time in brooks. Nevertheless, even for the long stretches in between, take enough water with you for the dog.

The Valle Gran Rey has been attracting people for many years.

Chapel close to the beach

Valle Gran Rey is named after the Guanche chief Hupalupa. On the island the Guanches were the natives of the Canary Islands before the Spanish conquest. At that time, the island of Gomera was divided into four districts, one of which was Valle Gran Rey. Today the administrative centre of Valle Gran Rey has been La Calera since 1930. The Atlantic settlement in Valle Gran Rey consists of La Calera, Vueltas and La Playa. But also Las Hayas, Arure and Taguluche belong to the administrative seat. Information is available for locals and tourists in the Valle Boten.

The "Valle Bote" informs about news in the valley

The green valley with its colourful little houses attracted many hippies already in the 70s. At that time they could still enjoy a contemplative life on the beach far away from mass tourism. I myself was for the first time at the end of the 80s in Valle Gran Rey. And also there were still no package travellers and bigger hotel complexes in the Valle. We arrived with backpack by ferry. After the arrival we afforded ourselves together with other fellow travellers a taxi, which brought us at that time still on adventurous narrow ways over the mountains and down into the Valle Gran Rey.

Valle Gran Rey – then and now

At that time, people lived in rented private accommodation or in the centrally located Pension Maria. When we arrived at the end of the 80’s in the middle of the night, Maria served us a big paella. Hospitality is very important in the Valle. By the way, the restaurant with Bar Maria still exists when I was there in 2015. Unfortunately not today. Apart from locals, hippies and backpackers who live there permanently, there was only a lush green nature with big banana plantations in the Valle Gran Rey. During the day they met for nude bathing at the beach and in the evening for a sundowner at the main square in front of the Pension Maria.

The former restaurant Casa Maria in Valle Gran Rey

Meanwhile, the access road to the valley has been extended and widened and many hotels and new houses have been built. The harbour in Vueltas has also been built since then and has expanded considerably in the meantime. Now large ships can moor there. And all in all there are now over 2000 beds for tourists in the Valle.

constructions signs in Valle Gran Rey

There are building signs everywhere and the building boom doesn’t seem to be over yet. Restaurants, streets, squares and beaches. A completely normal “beautiful” tourist place. But even if the times when the Valle Gran Rey was still an insider tip among backpackers are long gone. The lush nature in the Valle, the mild climate, the colourful houses and the impressive hiking routes make the Valle Gran Rey to this day a more than impressive travel destination.

Big circular walk from Las Hayas around the Valle Gran Rey

Early tour start in Las Hayas

The mountain village of Las Hayas is the starting and finishing point of the hike.

We start our big hiking tour around the Valle Gran Rey in the small village Las Hayas, which is about 1000 meters high. Those who want to walk the 21 kilometres long round that will lead us over a total altitude of almost 1600 metres down into the royal valley and up again on the other side of the valley should start as early as possible. One day on this tour you will get to see the most beautiful hiking routes of the Valle with breathtaking views and an impressive nature.

From Las Hayas to Arure

signpost

Today’s hike starts in Las Hayas in front of the famous restaurant Casa Efigenia (La Montana) with trail no. 11 in the direction of Arure. From Las Hayas there are two trails to Arure. You should choose the direct path marked: “Arure (Por La Quintana) 3.6 km. The sign is green and white and will lead you slightly down the main road of Las Hayas at the beginning of the hike. Then turn right off the main road and continue straight ahead along a forest road towards Arure. On a wide forest track you hike through a forest where it is still pleasantly cool in the early morning. After some time, this wide forest path is signposted and turns right into a hiking path. In the meantime, the path tapers to a small path that leads downhill in narrow steep turns.

Hiking path close to Arure

Once you have reached the bottom of the valley amid green meadows, it won’t be long before you come to a wide path. This leads you on the right side past a reservoir to the upper part of the small mountain village of Arure. In Arure, the trail starts along the main road. It goes from the edge of the village to the centre of Arure (approx. 830 metres above sea level). Arure is after a good hour of hiking the first stop on the big circular hiking tour. There the bus lines 1 and 6 stop, so that you can start and end the tour here. In Arure you can also take an early break in the local bars.

Arure – Plateau of La Mérica

Mountain ridge before the plateau of La Mérida

From Arure we continue to the next destination, the La Mérica plateau. Continue downhill along the main road. At a sharp bend to the left, you will see the signposted path that branches off to the right of the road towards Mirador del Santo. After a short while this road becomes a road. Continue straight on along this road (GR 132 red and white marked). You leave the path to the Mirador to your right after a short time.

In a wide arc you go close to the abyss with already marvellous views of the surrounding mountain ranges on an initially wide driveway along. You pass a goat farm. After some time the trail gets a little narrower and leads you very leisurely uphill.

Goatfarm at the path behind Arure

Fantastic views on the way

Finally, the road turns into a narrow paved path that leads you up a slope to the next ridge. On the left side you can enjoy impressive views of the colourful houses in Valle Gran Rey that lie deep below you. To the right you can see the Atlantic Ocean and the coastal regions with bizarre rockfalls. The fantastic views on this mountain ridge have always made me turn my head from left to right and vice versa. Because from the mountain ridge every few meters new intoxicating views open up in all directions.

ruin on the plateau of La Mérica

After about an hour of hiking you reach the second destination of the day from Arure, the plateau La Mérica at 857 meters altitude. Now you can also see the neighbouring islands of La Palma and El Hierro in the distance. On this green plateau, which is almost reminiscent of Irish pastureland, you can continue on a leisurely hiking trail across the plateau without any effort. The path over the plateau leads you very slowly downhill parallel to the edge of the Valle Gran Reys. You will pass a large ruined house.

Plateau La Mérica – La Calera

View to La Calera and Vueltas with the harbour

On the La Mérica plateau, the third stretch begins, which will take you down to Valle Gran Rey in the district of La Calera. On the La Mérica plateau, you can walk slowly towards the sea along a wide path through the green pastures. The path gradually approaches the edge of the cliff towards the Atlantic Ocean. After about half an hour’s walk on the plateau, you’ll be standing right at the edge of the abyss and can enjoy an excellent view of the coast with the hamlets of La Calera and Vueltas. From here you can also make a detour (about 10 minutes) to the Mérida rocks (Riscos de la Mérica). From the Mérida rocks you have a great view to the northern part of La Playa and the beach Playa Inglès.

View to La Calera and the harbour during the descent

On the plateau you have already descended again from 857 to over 600 metres. In the next 1.5 hours, you’ll have to take steep serpentines on narrow rock paths straight through the rock face down to La Calera. You descend from over 600 metres to 40 metres. Again and again there are wonderful views to the Valle Gran Rey with the different districts and to the mountain ranges on the other side of the valley. When you reach the first houses of La Calera, you will reach the main street via a street and a stairway.

The black sandy beach of La Calera with colored houses

La Calera

stairway in La Calera Valle Gran Rey

This is the third part of the hike. Those who want to walk the whole round tour on one day will probably not have the time to walk from here to the sea on that day. Nevertheless, La Playa with its beaches is not far away. But those who start the tour in La Calera or only want to walk a part of it, from here, a short excursion to the sea is almost suitable.

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La Calera – Degollada del Cerillal

streets and paths in the district of La Calera

Now begins the fourth part of the hike, which will take you back up to the mountains on the opposite slopes of Valle Gran Rey. For those who like to hike uphill, it is also worth starting here. Starting point is then the road bridge in La Calera. You cross the main road and then turn right uphill on a signposted hiking trail towards El Guro.

The small chapel Ermita de los Reys is ideal for a hiking break.

After 20 minutes, a small path branches off to the right immediately on a rock face. Follow this small path through the mountain band along the rock face. The path leads you directly to a small chapel, the idyllically situated Ermita de los Reyes. Here too, at an altitude of 150 metres, you have a wonderful view of the entire valley. You will also need a small rest, because the next part of the hike will be really exhausting.

view on the Valle Gran Reyfrom the lower south side of the slope at the ascent to El Cercado

Direction El Cercado

In about 3.5 hours you will reach El Cercado on a steep ascent. This is actually the most strenuous part of the whole hike. After the Ermita de los Reyes we continue on a wide path in the valley. After about 10 minutes, a red and white marked hiking trail with the number GR 132 branches off to the right. This path leads you in countless small serpentines steeply up the slope. After about half an hour it forks again. You continue to follow the GR 132 up the mountain on the right.

uphill on narrow paths

First the path leads along a Barrancorinne and then for about an hour it goes uphill on rocky narrow paths along the ridge. This is where your good physical condition is particularly in demand. At an altitude of 660 metres you reach the ridge, the Degollada del Cerillal. There you can look forward to having the most strenuous part of the hike definitely behind you. For the hard climb you will be rewarded by a wonderful view in all directions.

Degollada del Cerillal – La Matanza

hiking path Valle Gran Rey

The fifth section takes you from the Degollada del Cerrial from 660 to 780 metres above sea level to La Matanza. As you can see from the numbers, in the next hour you will continue uphill to La Matanza, but not as steep as in the last section. Just behind the Degollada del Cerrillal the path forks. Keep left on the red and white marked main path GR 132. The path leads you leisurely down to the Barranco de Argaga. Before going up again on the opposite side of the Barranco, you cross the watercourse. Then you climb up to an old and mostly covered water channel, which crosses the path here.

Covered canal path - junction for a detour to Ermita de Nuestra Senõra

In 15 minutes you will reach the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. To make this little detour, simply walk to the right along the water channel. If you have time, you have to plan about 30 minutes for this detour. However, to continue along the circular path, keep left along the signposted canal path (No. 15). The canal path runs partly up and partly next to the canal above the Barranco de Argaga. And by the way the path is always slightly uphill.

hiking path above the Barranco of Argaga

La Matanza

Around you the landscape is green and offers you impressive views again and again. Finally at the upper end of the Barranco you cross the stream bed. Here on the stones in the stream bed or a little further above on the small plateau of La Matanza (780 height meters) a rest offers itself wonderfully.  The canal trail ends at a small water wall. From the top you can now enjoy a magnificent view of Valle Gran Rey from the other direction.

path direction La Matanza - Valle Gran Rey

La Matanza – El Cercado

path from the Degollada de Cerrial direction to La Matanza

The sixth section takes you to the small town of El Cercado. From the plateau of La Matanza, a path descends to the right towards La Vizcaína. However, you continue straight uphill on the main path. After crossing the bottom of the valley, the left side of the valley is a little steeper again on small rocky paths and many serpentines uphill towards the small village of El Cercado. Leave the path that branches off to the right towards Chipude. After a good half an hour the path goes uphill a little flatter on the right side of the valley.

the little mountain village El Cercado

Below the village El Cercado du the plain. From there the path leads through terraced fields to the first houses of El Cercado. On a narrow stone path you go right past the houses until you meet a road in El Cercado. Turn left towards the main road. Go up the stairs to the main street and then turn left on the main street until you reach Bar Maria.

El Cercado – Las Hayas

view to the Fortaleza from El Cercado

El Cercado is one of the places where you can start or end the hike. Here you can park, there are bus connections and bars. The seventh and last part of the hike, which will take you back to Las Hayas, begins in the small mountain village for the big round tour. From El Cercado you also have a wonderful view of the Fortalezza massif. Cross the road at Bar Maria and you will see the narrow path (red and white GR 131) on the other side of the road. This leads you down into the valley into a small Barranco. A small stretch goes downhill and then uphill again on the other side of the Barranco.

Valle Gran Rey - view into the valley

At the top you have a fantastic view of the whole Valle Gran Rey from the “end side”. But this is not yet the end of the hike. Once again you cross another Barranco bed and then climb up the slope of Barranco del Agua again. This is then the last major ascent for the hike, leading you up a ridge. Now it goes on on the GR 131, which leads you straight ahead with easy up and down in the direction of Las Hayas. Below Las Hayas the trail goes around a valley again. Then the path climbs and you reach your starting point, the restaurant Casa Efigenia on the main road of Las Hayas.

And Finally

Rest with a beautiful view

I hope that you like the description of the great hiking tour and that you can use the information for your own hikes. Have fun on your personal Valle Gran Rey hiking tour. And if you feel like it, I will be happy if you write me something about your own experiences. Safe hikes, Dagmar von Siebeninseln

One Reply to “La Gomera Valle Gran Rey – large circular hike on a small island”

  1. […] is the steep face of Agulo. There you can hike up to the glass Skywalk of Agulo. But also a big tour over the mountain ranges in the green Valle Gran Rey is a unique experience – even if it is not quite unstraining. One of my favourite hikes on La […]

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