Picos de Europa: Torre de los Horcados Rojos 2506m (central massif)


In our last trips to Asturias, we didn’t get to climb any mountains. We played with the resident cows of Covadonga lakes, we descended the Río Sella in kayak, we swam and ate; we did all the things we love to do in the north. But with the Picos de Europa always looming in the distance, those trips were missing something.

This year we both made visiting the Picos de Europa a priority. And they did not disappoint.

Its Central, Eastern and Western massifs are what make up the this group of peaks; los Picos de Europa actually belong to the Cantabrian Mountain Range which stretch across entire Northern Spain, it’s easternmost end meeting up with the Iberian System (Sistema Ibérico).

We summited La Torre de los Horcados Rojos, an easy climb up to a peak belonging to the central massif. This version of the hike was fairly easy because we eliminated 753 m of elevation gain by taking the Fuente Dé cable car up to 1823 meters. From there our hike was only about 11.5 km round trip with only 770 m of accumulated elevation gain.

This peak is actually in Cantabria (as is the cable car station), it sits right on the natural border with Asturias.

What surprised us the most was the completely barren, rocky terrain. Where was all that Northern green? We still fell in love. Cannot wait to get back here.

We arrived to the cable car main station in Fuente Dé fairly early in the morning. The forecast we expected was decent cloud cover all morning, with the sky opening up around mid-morning. When we parked it started raining.

The lady at the ticket booth confirmed that buying a 15€ round trip ticket  was a waste of money. (normal price = 17€ but if you are a member of a mountain federation or a travel group through an agency you get a discount) From the top we wouldn’t have a view of the gorgeous Cantabrian valley below, she said.


She was right.

We couldn’t be sure about the conditions further up the mountain. But as many other hard headed tourists did, we also said ‘fuck it’ and started along the trail (‘PR’ or pequeña ruta marked the whole way up by white and yellow strip).

We definitely weren’t going to miss out on these peaks another year. Turns out it was a solid decision. A good hour of the hike we kept saying.. this fog will clear right? And it did.

picos de europa fuente de horcados rojos
Trying to get above that cloud cover!

We made it to the pass which gave us our first glimpse of Pico Urriellu or Naranjo de Bulnes, the iconic peak which usually is the representative image of Picos de Europa. It requires technical skill to get up there, we hope that by next year our climbing skills will be up to the challenge!!

picos de Europa asturias
Picu de Urriellu (in Asturian), or Naranjo de Bulnes peak

Many casual hikers have a snack at the pass and then head back down. From here, a lot of climbers head up to Pico de Tesorero or Torre de los Horcados Rojos. We kept climbing, it’s another 30 min to the top!

Glad we did, we had the best picnic spot of all (coinciding with only 1 other couple):

Torre de los Horcados Rojos summit views!! 2506 meters

horcados rojos picos de europa
The trail is clearly marked all the way up.
picos de europa cabaña verónica
In Aragón we are used to mountain refuges a of a different style. In Los Picos de Europa there are fewer and of different style. This is Cabaña de Verónica which sleeps only a handful of people. In fact you can’t reserve a bed, it’s for bivouac, first come first served.

I have never been above a sea of clouds so extensive like that before. I think this is what magic feels like. Bless these mountains and bless this body.

los picos de europa
On our way down: the red hue to the mountain is where Torre de los Horcados Rojos gets its name. I love seeing (from below) where my body is capable of taking me.
We descended to the cable car station again. Back into the cloud cover, but with a cold beer to help us with cool down, because we got some great northern sunshine after all. . Total round trip: 4 hours +/-

Hasta pronto, Picos!


Hungry after all that hiking? Treat yourself the Asturian way!

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