Roque de los Muchachos - the highest point (La Palma)
This probably the most spectacular route on the
island, going from near Santa Cruz de La Palma
in the west, up to 2450 meters at the top and back down to 1200
meters at Hoya Grande.
Starting at Mirca, above S/C, the road twists and turns its way up the mountain, through the extensive pine forests, past a refugio (picnic and barbecue area) until you arive above the tree-line and see the bare volcanic landscape near the top. This area is covered with gorse, with its twisted stems and vivid yellow flowers, and broom with its creamy white flowers. There are many stopping places so take a look at the views over S/C and the east and north sides of the island.
On approaching the top you will pass through areas of brightly coloured lava and volcanic ash formations. There is a small strip where you can park and look down over the northern part of the island and cross the road to the lookout point and look down into the caldera, with its specatular cliffs and rock formations. On some days you can watch clouds forming in the caldera and rising over the rim.
Drive on the the entrance road to the observatory and up to the Roques. Here is a small carpark and an information hut which is occasionally open. Walk past the large standing rocks to get another view of the caldera, and the rest of the isalnd and, if you are lucky, Tenerife and La Gomera to the east and El Hierro to the south-west. You can follow the path to the outcrop of rock below to get even more spectacular views, but remember it's uphill all the way back and at nearly 2500 meters the air is thinner.
You may need to wear a hat and sun protection here because there is little atmospheric polution to dilute the suns rays. It can also be cold and windy, with temperatures around freezing in the winter and occasionally snowfall.
The route down to Hoya Grande is also very twisty with many good views out over the sea and the north-west of the island.
This route takes you through areas that were the scene of bush fires in August 2000, which has left some grotesque areas of burned pine trees, but the Canary Pine is a survivor and most have started to sprout new needles .