Global Adventure - Dayhike Spain's Picos de Europa


Global Adventure - Dayhike Spain's Picos de Europa

This 14-day hotel-based trip includes 7 moderate hikes and 1 village walk, plus 2 days in Bilbao including a tour of Basque country. Picos de Europa National Park is Spain’s first national park and was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2002. Three giant massifs dominate the landscape – Andara/Eastern massif, Urrieles/Central massif and Cornión/Western massif. This trip visits all three massif regions. Hikes range from 9 mi, 1300’ gain to 15 mi, 3510’gain. The mild climate is dominated by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and is much like PNW climate. In this green heart of Spain, we’ll explore deep river gorges, hike amongst soaring limestone peaks, mixed stratified forests and rural mountain villages, as well as delve into Asturias food culture and history. NOTE: THE FULL PRICE OF THIS TRIP IS $2750, BUT THE MEMBER FEE IS FOR THE 50% DEPOSIT DUE NOW. SEE LEADER NOTES BELOW FOR FULL PRICE DETAILS, WHAT IS INCLUDED AND HOW TO APPLY.

  • Fri, May 3, 2024 — Thu, May 16, 2024
  • Global Adventures Committee
  • Day Hiking, Global Adventures
  • Adults
  • Moderate
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 63.5 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 16,244 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 7,700 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2 MPH (avg moving pace)

Arrive by the evening of May 2nd at our hotel in Bilbao, Spain (Holiday Inn Express Bilbao Airport, price included).  On Friday, May 3rd (Day 1), we’ll be picked up at our hotel and transferred by private minibus (price included) to our hotel in Las Arenas de Cabrales, a 2.5-hour drive, with time to check-in before dinner is served in the hotel’s restaurant (self-pay). The following 10 days will be spent in hiking and cultural activities arranged by the Mountaineers GA trip leader in consultation with the local operator. On Tuesday, May 14 transfer via private minibus to AirBnB accommodations in Bilbao (price included for both). On Thursday, May 16, transfer to Bilbao airport for departure (self-pay) or proceed on your own to other explorations in the area. NOTE: Travel from your home to Bilbao, Spain will require a flight departure on May 01, due to the 8-hour time change.  May 16th travel from Bilbao back home to Seattle will get you home late on May 16 or early on May 17 depending on your flight times.

Itinerary Highlights: 

  •  Tentative itinerary (subject to change based on local conditions):   The itinerary is arranged for 2-3 days of hiking followed by 1 day of rest or a cultural activity. Some of our hikes are locally known routes but may not show up as hiking trails on tourist maps. This trip finishes with 2 days in Bilbao with opportunity to visit Old Town and the Guggenheim Museum (on your own or self-organized group, self-pay), a half-day guided tour of the Basque country (cost included) and celebrate our last night together with a Basque dinner at a Bilboa restaurant (self-pay).

Day 1 (May 3) – Transfer from Bilbao to Las Arenas as a group via private mini-bus. Day 2 – group introductions & trip overview, self-guided walk within Las Arenas village to visit cheese museum, sheep & goat farm, welcome dinner. Day 3 – moderate hike to foothills of Arenes. On a clear day, view the famous peaks of Picos de Europa. Meadows could be filled with wildflowers.  (11 mi, ~2400 gain, guided). Day 4 - moderate one-way hike to western massif region’s Lakes of Covadonga, Majada de Belbin (pastures of Belbin), Peak Pandescura and views of western massif peaks (10 mi, ~1800’ gain, guided). Day 5 – open. Day 6 –  moderate one-way hike thru Cares River gorge, the most well-known and popular route in the Picos. Trail is sculpted out of the rock walls of the gorge and runs along caves, bridges and tunnels (7 mi, ~1900’ gain, self-guided). Followed by driving tour to visit historic sites and spectacular Beyos Gorge. In the evening, cheese & cider tour and traditional Asturian dinner. Day 7 – From Sotres, the highest village of Asturias, moderate hike in the eastern massif thru pastoral and rustic scenery to twin summits of Mancondiu (7 mi, ~2400 gain, guided). Day 8 – moderate hike in the central massif from meadows to mountains, passing amongst sheepfolds and limestone peaks plus stop at Refugio de la Terenosa to arrive at Collado Valleju and views of the impressive rocky mass of Naranjo de Bulnes, the iconic symbol of the Picos. (8 mi, ~2500’ gain, guided). Day 9 – transfer to Potes, open. Day 10 – Take Fuente Dé high-speed cable car to access subalpine region of central massif for moderate hike beneath high limestone mountain formations to balcony of the Red Hangers for unbeatable views (7 mi, ~2500’ gain, guided). Day 11 - Fuente Dé cable car to access moderate hike in subalpine and montane regions of central and eastern massifs, transition from the mid-mountain areas in Áliva to the surroundings of the towns, passing by the Neolithic burials near Peña Oviedo. (9 mi, ~1315’ gain, guided). Day 12 – transfer to Bilbao as a group via private mini-bus, explore Old Town and Guggenheim Museum (explore on your own or self-organized group). Day 13 – commercial tour of Basque region (price included in trip cost), group debrief, farewell dinner. Day 14 (May 16) – departure day.

  •  We will be based in the village of Las Arenas de Cabrales (Las Arenas) for 8 nights. Then, transfer to Potes, a medieval, riverside town on the eastern side of the Picos for 3 nights.
  • Weather is a feature of this trip.  Dense fog can occur. The month of May is typically dry, but rain is possible. While in deep river gorges and lower elevations, it can be warm with a lot of radiant solar gain. Participants need to be comfortable with and prepared for conditions that range from warm/sunny to rainy/foggy.
  • Pace: Hikes are rated per Mountaineers Hiking standards. Leader’s pace is moderate, 1.5-2.0 mph (average moving pace).
  • Style: Hikes will include stops to observe nature (flowers, butterflies, insects, animals, etc), and/or hear from professional guides about local history, culture and lore. Before each hike, trip leader will review the stats and conditions for the hike. Best effort will be made to provide a map or digital route for each hike. 

Time of Year:   Late Spring, which is shoulder season.  Meadows should be flower-filled. Domestic livestock (sheep, cattle, goats) may be migrating to higher grazing meadows and may influence the routes that we take. Weather fronts may bring rain or fog. If conditions become hazardous due to weather during a hike, the hike will be terminated and the safest exit route will be taken.

Lodging:  Holiday Inn Express at Bilbao airport (1 night, Day 0, May 02). Hotels located in Las Arenas (8 nights, Day 1-8) and in Potes (3 nights, Day 9-11). AirBnB house in Bilbao (2 nights, Day 12-13). Our hotel at Bilbao airport has free shuttle service to/from airport. Hotel Torrecerredo, our hotel in Las Arenas, is a former farmstead operated by generations of the current owner’s family, now converted to a hotel with the slogan, “The One Star Hotel with The Five Star View”. Our hotel in Potes will be Casa Cayo or similar. 👉🏼Accommodations at Bilbao airport, Las Arenas and Potes are provided as Twin Share (cost included). Single supplement is available for Las Arenas and Potes (280Euros, self-pay directly to the hotel).👈🏼 Our Bilbao AirBnB house has 4 bedrooms and an open top floor with 4 separate beds. Leader will provide a rooming plan for the group to simplify check-in.

Food:  All breakfasts are included and, when at Hotel Torrecerredo, provided as an extensive buffet including eggs cooked to order. While staying at Hotel Torrecerredo, light lunches are provided, but are more like a snack. Hence, it’s recommended to purchase a more substantial lunch from the lodgings or assembled from options in local shops (self-pay). Dinner can be obtained at the lodging’s restaurant or a nearby restaurant (dinners not included in the trip price). As is the custom in Spain, restaurants usually start serving dinner at 8pm. The exception to this is our Bilbao AirBnB 2-night stay, which is entirely self-catering. There will be opportunity to visit a grocery store to buy food for our AirBnB stay. Because we will be exploring the culture around Asturian cheese and cider, there is a combined dinner & food tour focused on this gastronomy. Asturian cider has 4-6% alcohol content. Since the price of cheese/cider/dinner combo is not included in the trip price, it would be possible to opt out.  It is not known whether vegan or gluten-free options are available.  When the trip leader stayed at Hotel Torrecerredo in May 2023, the fixed dinner menu offered choice of a vegetarian, fish or meat main course.

Leader’s Experience:   Roseanne Lorenzana ( has been active with the Mountaineers for several decades, is a leader for hiking, snowshoeing, urban walking and naturalist trips, as well as instructor for wilderness navigation, conditioning hiking series and basic snowshoeing. For friends, family and a non-Mountaineers hiking group, she has planned and lead trips to Portugal, Azores, Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, Guatemala, Belize, South Africa, Argentina, Ecuador, Galapagos, Patagonia and Antarctica. In May 2023, Roseanne visited Picos de Europa NP, stayed at Hotel Torrecerredo and solo-hiked the Cares Gorge route (out and back, 13 miles) along with other local trails to assess suitability for a Global Adventure. This is Roseanne’s first Global Adventure as leader.

Participant Requirements:   Must be a current Mountaineers member with an up-to-date waiver on file.  This outing includes multiple consecutive days (up to 3) of hiking distances up to 15 miles per day on variable terrain. Terrain types include meadow, forested, former mining tracks, limestone rock, subalpine scree and roads on which vehicles travel (some paved, some not). Participants need to be in good aerobic condition, show proven ability to hike multiple days in a row (at least three 7 to 15-mile days at a 1.5-2 mi/hr average pace) and demonstrate participation in a fitness/training program adequate to prepare for this trip. To participate in this adventure, participants must have travel insurance that provides international medical and evacuation coverage in addition to what their at-home insurance provides. 

Expectations: As a Mountaineers group we will operate as interdependent, capable travelers making our way together and helping one another succeed and be safe.  You are responsible for your own safety and that of your fellow travelers. Participants must understand that route adjustments could be required in the event of unanticipated weather or trail conditions. Participants should have a positive attitude, ability to be flexible, an inquisitive nature, appreciation for the natural world (willing to stop for flowers, etc), interest in history of the culture, and a demonstrated ability to get along well with groups. During a hike, the group will stay together. Even if participants decide to spread out, the lead person must have visual contact with the sweep. Trip leader expects participants to speak up with regard to concerns about safety (emotional, physical), the route or group dynamics. Trip leader’s communication style is to disseminate as much information as possible to participants because she believes she should not be the only one knowing what to expect.

ABOUT EQUITY AND INCLUSION: As part of creating a mental and emotional safe experience on this Global Adventure, trip leader will adhere to the Mountaineers justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion policies and expectations. Participants will be expected to be familiar with and also adhere to these policies and expectations. These can be reviewed here.

ABOUT COVID:  Participants must be fully vaccinated against Covid to participate in the trip.  Participants will be expected to practice conservative Covid behavior before and during transit to the trip, including masking and avoiding crowded indoor spaces whenever possible.  Participants will be expected to carry Covid self-tests on the trip and use them if they experience any symptoms commonly related to Covid.  Before rejoining the group, participants testing positive for Covid will need to leave the group and quarantine at their own expense for at least 5 days (Day 1 is the first full day after the day symptoms started) and be symptom free (without the use of fever-reducing medication). The rest of the group will follow CDC and WA Health Dept recommendations regarding hygienic practices following exposure to Covid, as explained here




SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION (to complete in the last month before the trip)

Trip Price Detail:   $2,750 includes 1 night pre-trip lodging, 11 nights lodging in Picos de Europa NP and 2 nights lodging in Bilbao. In Picos de Europa, includes breakfast and some light lunches (about lunches, see Food paragraph). A qualified bilingual guide for 6 hikes. Transfer to/from Bilbao. Transfers to/from trailheads, when required (some start/end at the hotel). Transfer to Cares River gorge trailhead and collection at Caín de Valdeón with stops at historic sites enroute. Transfer to Potes including stop at Visitors Centre Museum enroute. Half-day guided tour of Basque country while in Bilbao.

Not included are your airfare (approx. $1900), transportation to/from Seattle airport (about $100), self-pay meals (about $800 @ about $60/day x 14 days), optional single supplement (280 Euros), entrance fees (about $50 this estimate includes cheese museum, farm tour, lobos exhibit and Guggenheim), cable car & funicular fees (about $50) and travel medical/medevac insurance (about $200). Restaurant tips and drive or guide tips are at your discretion (10% is suggested).

Registration Instructions:   Leader approval is required before registering. Please complete and submit the application form at the button, above.  Applications will be reviewed as a group.  Best efforts will be made to conduct telephone interviews as soon as possible after applications are received. Leader's goal is to make final roster decisions by Monday, Feb 5th. Note that these are ideal dates based on when deposits are due; however, applications are open until Jan 31 or whenever the roster is filled. ►Final decisions are based on information provided in the application, interview, applicant's fit with the trip requirements, capabilities to safely achieve the most strenuous hike and - considering the applicant, the trip and others on the developing roster - good match between goals, expectations and style◄  The date of application will not be used in the decision. After you have received the leader’s approval, open the trip listing and click on REGISTER.  After clicking on this button, the website will send you to a shopping cart where you will need to provide a credit card to pay the 50% deposit ($1,375) in order to hold your space on the roster.  As soon as you have registered, please also complete and submit the Trip Agreement and Release forms at the buttons below by February 15, 2024.

A place on the roster can only be held with payment of the deposit ($1,375) within 4 days of acceptance notification.  Registration will close on January 31, 2024 or whenever the roster fills. 

Final payment of $1,375 is due 5pm, February 15, 2024. If you cancel from this adventure, you may receive a refund less non-recoverable expenses incurred, as follows.

  • Cancellation made before 5pm, Feb 15, 2024: 80% refund of deposit ($1,100) Or, if full payment of $2,750 has been made, 90% refund (refund = $2,475).
  • Cancellation after 5pm, Feb 15, 2024 forfeit entire cost (forfeit=$2,750) unless someone on the waiting list can take your place and pay entire trip cost by 5pm March 01, 2024.
  • In addition to these fees, there will also be a $100 administrative fee.

Dayhike Spain's Picos de Europa

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

  • After receiving your deposit, the leader will send out a series of letters or emails providing information to help participants succeed on the trip, including recommended and required gear, recommended maps and guidebooks.
  • Before the trip, there will be at least one zoom meeting or, if possible, face-to-face meeting for all trip participants.


Trip Reports