Sieben Inseln
11/15/2022 (updated: 11/25/2022) | 13min Reading time

Ascent to the Fortaleza with return via Galería Vergara

DifficultyHard
IslandTenerife
Altitude900m
Distance16km - 18km
Circular hike
Blick vom Gipfel der Fortaleza hinab auf den Aufstiegsweg am Fuße der Fortaleza
Status November 2022: some of the forest areas are still badly burnt by the fires of summer 2022

Ascent to the Fortaleza

There are many ways to hike up the impressive rock massif, which lies to the northeast opposite Teide. The easiest option is from El Portillo. From there, a signposted hiking trail leads towards Fortaleza. This is probably the most frequently used option for visiting Fortaleza. The hike can be combined with the hike to Montaña Blanca.
View during the ascent of the Teide
View during the ascent of the Teide
But there are also options for the ascent from the north-western side of the island. I have already described one tour in the article Ascent to Fortaleza from Chanajiga. And today I describe another way to climb Fortaleza. You start your hike from the picnic area Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena.
Rails at the Galería Vergara
Rails at the Galería Vergara

Hard climb and beautiful round around the Galería Vergara

The ascent to Fortaleza from the Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena is actually quite steep. You hike on good paths, but always and steadily quite steeply uphill. On the Fortaleza you can then take a leisurely look around. You then return along the same path for a while.
Wide roads lead up towards Fortaleza
Wide roads lead up towards Fortaleza
But finally you can make a big round tour out of the ascent. You hike moderately downhill through pine forests. You’ll pass the Juan de la Rambla fire protection tower and the large Galería Vergara.
Ascent - Track Galería Vergara - Fortaleza
Ascent - Track Galería Vergara - Fortaleza

General information about the round trip Ascent to Fortaleza with Galería Vergara

Starting point and approach

Starting point of the hike the rest area Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena.
GPS: 28.337559, -16.627317
Starting point of the hike - Barranco de la Arena - Fuente de Pedro
Starting point of the hike - Barranco de la Arena - Fuente de Pedro

Arrival by car

You come from the north or south on the TF-5 and leave it at the exit for La Guancha. Take the TF-352 to La Guancha. There, take the TF-344 and follow the signs to Area Recreativa El Lagar. A few kilometres beyond La Guancha, a wide forest road (track) branches off to the right from the road and is signposted to El Lagar. Follow this track uphill for 5 kilometres. You will then reach the El Lagar rest area. The road is good to drive on with an off-road vehicle, but normal cars can also drive on it carefully. From El Lagar you can already start if you want to extend the trail. Otherwise, you can continue on the main road for a few kilometres up to the starting point of the Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena (Fuente de Pedro).

Arrival by bus

You can take the Titsa bus 354 to La Guancha. From there you would have to take a taxi. Details and more information can be found on the Titsa homepage.

Time

Article summary and large selection of GPS hiking tracks

Article summary and large selection of GPS hiking tracks

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I don’t like to give general times for hiking tours, because the times are very individual. I needed about 5.5 hours for this hike with two longer stops. 
Altitude profile ascent Galería Vergara - Fortaleza
Altitude profile ascent Galería Vergara - Fortaleza

Difference in altitude and length of the route

The difference in altitude is about 900 metres and the route is just under 18 kilometres long. 

Requirements

You hike the entire time on good driving and hiking trails. However, you should be in good physical condition due to the length of the hike and the tough ascent.

Refreshment

You will not find any restaurants, bars or shops on the entire hike. Therefore, please take enough water with you.
Various tracks near the Galeria Vergara and the Fortaleza - dark blue the ascent described here.
Various tracks near the Galeria Vergara and the Fortaleza - dark blue the ascent described here.

Variants 

You can vary the route of this tour according to your needs. It can be combined very well with various other hikes and circular walks from and around El Lagar and the Barranco de la Arena. I will also present other hiking tours in this area in the near future.
Alternatives to get to Fortaleza have already been mentioned above: Montaña Blanca hike and Chanajiga hike to Fortaleza.
Hiking trail at the foot of the Fortaleza
Hiking trail at the foot of the Fortaleza

Round trip ascent Barranco de la Arena – Fortaleza – Galería Vergara

Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena to Juan de la Rambla fire tower section

You start your hike at the Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena rest area. From there, first follow the wide forest road that you used to get to the Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena and continue straight ahead. The path climbs slightly through the dense pine forest. At a large fork, keep left. Shortly afterwards, the path begins to climb more steeply. It takes you to a wooded ridge. On this ridge path to the right of the Barranco Atalaya you are already climbing steeply.
Hiker climbing towards Fortaleza - quite steep roads
Hiker climbing towards Fortaleza - quite steep roads
The tracks are wide, but really steep. However, you will be compensated for the effort by the magnificent views of the Teide and the forested area below the Fortaleza from the ascent path. Finally, you will reach the Juan de la Rambla fire tower. Here you will choose a different path on the way back to do a round trip. Now you continue on the ridge path above the tower.
Fire protection tower San Juan de la Rambla
Fire protection tower San Juan de la Rambla

Section Fire Tower Juan de la Rambla to Foot of Fortaleza

The ascent continues to be steep on a wide path. Finally, the path crosses a small barranco to the right. On the other side of the barranco you have two options. You can – like me – continue straight up the mountain on a narrow, impassable path. Or you can follow the road and take the switchback, which you can otherwise shorten. Then continue straight up the mountain.
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View from the ascent down to the coast
View from the ascent down to the coast
However, the path gradually flattens out. You reach the foothills of the Fortaleza. Now you walk along the foot of the Fortaleza for quite a while. Once you have left the forest, you will find yourself on a large plain dominated by light-coloured sand. The path is flatter. You walk around the Fortaleza on the entire south-eastern side.
at the foot of the Fortaleza
at the foot of the Fortaleza

Route section foot of the Fortaleza to the summit of the Fortaleza

While the trail continues straight on to El Portillo, turn left onto the white sand field. On the ascent path, walk up to the small Cruz de Fregel chapel on the Degollada de Cedro. The Degollada is a saddle between the Fortaleza and the Cabezón. This is also the path used by hikers coming from El Portillo. On the right, path S-36 takes you up to the back of Fortaleza in 1.2 kilometres. You should not miss this.
Hiking trail up to Fortaleza
Hiking trail up to Fortaleza
After the short climb, you can enjoy fantastic views of the neighbouring islands of La Gomera and La Palma from up there. You will see the Cañadas, the Montaña Blanca, the Teide and the Cumbre Dorsal. Below, a seemingly white lunar landscape lies at your feet. Do you fancy a rest on the summit? This is the ideal spot. The “lagartos” are already waiting for a few crumbs to fall from your snack.
Small chapel Cruz de Frejel at the foot Ascent to Fortaleza
Small chapel Cruz de Frejel at the foot Ascent to Fortaleza

Route section top of Fortaleza to Galería Vergara

If you don’t want to go much further, you now have the option of climbing up to nearby El Portillo and taking the bus back from here. Otherwise, walk back to the Juan de la Rambla fire tower along the same route you took on the way up.
on the summit of Fortaleza above the clouds
on the summit of Fortaleza above the clouds
To make a nice loop, don’t go downhill to the right at the tower, but go down below the tower on the path to the left. The following long section is quite easy. With beautiful views, you walk slowly downhill on a good road through the pine forest. Eventually the track forks. I once did a loop of El Lagar straight ahead, which I will describe here soon. But you now walk downhill to the left. The path now becomes steeper, but not too steep, and continues in serpentines through the pine forest. Once again you come to a fork. Keep to the left and shortly afterwards you will reach the Galería Vergara.
Transition of the pine forest areas to the rugged rocky landscape
Transition of the pine forest areas to the rugged rocky landscape

Route section Galería Vergara to starting point Fuente de Pedro

At the Galería Vergara you have two options. You can walk right down along the pipes. On this hike, however, I walked across the barranco to the buildings of the Galería. A wide footpath leads through the middle of the buildings and then runs downhill on the left side of the Barranco de la Arena. You always keep parallel to the Barranco. Sometimes you can take a shortcut on small paths across the field to avoid the serpentines of the path.
Level in front of the Galería Vergara
Level in front of the Galería Vergara
Both paths (on the left and right side of the barranco) cross shortly before the main path. Here you can quickly turn left to reach the starting point at Fuente de Pedro. You can also continue straight ahead and shortly afterwards you will reach the main path. Keep left here and you will quickly return to the starting point, Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena (Fuente de Pedro).
Building at Galería Vergara
Building at Galería Vergara

And finally

I hope you enjoyed this hike in the forests around El Lagar and Fuente de Pedro. This interesting hiking area actually offers you many possibilities. It doesn’t always have to be a strenuous hike like the one to Fortaleza. The climb to the Galería Vergara alone is also worthwhile. I will therefore present more hikes in this beautiful area here soon. Unfortunately (as of November 2022), some forest areas around the Area Recreativa Barranco de la Arena are still badly affected by the fires of the summer of 2022. But in many places, fresh green can already be seen again because of the persistent Canary Island pine. Have fun on all your hikes,
Dagmar from Siebeninseln

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