By Michael Lanza
As my family hikes up the Cares Gorge in northern Spain’s Picos de Europa National Park, which looks like an impressionist painting with its soaring, white and gray limestone cliffs dappled with greenery, I’m struck by one curious fact about this mountain range: how it has retained a surprising degree of anonymity.
Until just months before this trip, in fact, I had never heard of the Picos de Europa—which also bear a striking resemblance to Italy’s world-class Dolomite Mountains and lies just two flights from major U.S. airports and obviously a much shorter distance from numerous European cities—and I’ve made a living for years seeking out the world’s best hiking trails.
I’ve come to the Picos with my wife, Penny and our teenage son, Nate, and daughter, Alex, to trek about 52 miles (84k) over five days through the highest and most rugged and vertiginous peaks of the Picos de Europa, in the part of the range known as the Central Massif. We’ll stay in lodging in villages and in mountain huts as we hike a loop through the heart of these mountains that already have me intrigued.
Overlapping three very different regions of northern Spain—Asturias, Cantabria, and Castilla y León—the Picos were part of Spain’s first national park when the Massif de Peña Santa was declared the National Park of Covadonga Mountain in 1918. In 1995, it became Picos de Europa National Park.
Scroll through the photo gallery below for a sense of what it’s like to trek through Spain’s Picos de Europa, then see the link below the gallery to my story about this world-class adventure.
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See my story about this trip, “The Best 5-Day Hike in Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains” and all of my stories about family adventures and international adventures at The Big Outside.