Walking on La Gomera and El Hierro
By Paddy Dillon
A walking guidebook for exploring La Gomera and El Hierro with 45 day walks and treks for all abilities from rugged mountain treks to coastal walks. This wide selection of walks cover long distance trails such as Camino de la Virgen, GR131 on La Gomera and some of GR132 across the Canary Islands. Plenty of variety for all to enjoy.
Seasonsbest between November and May, as the summer months are too hot, but it can sometimes be damp and misty on the higher parts; spring is especially colourful
Centreson La Gomera - San Sebastian, Playa de Santiago, Chipude, Valle Gran Rey, Vallehermoso, Hermigua on El Hierro - Valverde, El Pinar, La Restinga, El Frontera
Difficultyroutes vary from short, level and easy to long, steep and strenuous; almost all routes are waymarked and signposted, and no special equipment is required
Must Seeon La Gomera - Alto de Garajonay, Garajonay national park, laurisilva ‘cloud forest’, deep and rugged barrancos, GR131, GR132 on El Hierro - Malpaso, World Bisosphere Reserve, Camino de La Virgen, GR131, volcanic cones
The two smallest of the Canary Islands are no less rugged than their volcanic neighbours, offering a wide variety of little-known walking terrain that includes steep-sided barrancos and dramatic cliffs as well as gentler slopes inland cloaked in laurasilva and pine forests.
La Gomera and El Hierro come with their own introduction and the walks are spread roughly clockwise around them. Where the routes lie side-by-side, links between them are often possible. Both islands feature coast-to-coast trails, while La Gomera also features a circular trail taking up to a week to complete. Any day-long stretch can naturally also be followed as a walk in its own right, using bus services to join and leave it.
Due to the volcanic history of the Canaries there is plenty of breathtaking scenery to be discovered by following these sensational routes that include easy strolls, hands-on scrambles, day walks and long distance routes covering the GR 131 and GR 132. This ensures that there is a trail for every one and every mood.
- 45 routes described with clear contour mapping
- full background information on both islands
- illustrated with maps and colour photographs
- a wide selection of routes for all abilities
- the second in a five book series of guidebooks to the Canaries. Others in the series include Walking on Tenerife, Walking on Gran Canaria and Walking on La Palma
The Fortunate Isles
When to go
Health and safety
Food and drink
Walking on La Gomera and El Hierro
What to take
Waymarking and access
Using this guide
Food and drink
Tourist information offices
Walk 1 San Sebastián and Jaragán
Walk 2 Los Roques and La Laja
Walk 3 Risco de la Fortaleza
Walk 4 Los Roques and Benchijigua
Walk 5 Pajaritos to Playa de Santiago
Walk 6 Chipude and Barranco de Argaga
Walk 7 Chipude and La Matanza
Walk 8 La Laguna Grande and Alto de Garajonay
Walk 9 El Cercado and Valle Gran Rey
Walk 10 Las Hayas, Arure and Valle Gran Rey
Walk 11 Vallehermoso to Chorros de Epina
Walk 12 Vallehermoso and Cumbre de Chijeré
Walk 13 Vallehermoso and Los Loros
Walk 14 Vallehermoso and El Tión
Walk 15 Tamargada and Vallehermoso
Walk 16 Hermigua and Aguló
Walk 17 Alto de Garajonay to Hermigua
Walk 18 Santa Catalina and La Caleta
Walk 19 GR 132: San Sebastián to Playa de Santiago
Walk 20 GR 132: Playa de Santiago to La Dama
Walk 21 GR 132: La Dama to Arure
Walk 22 GR 132: Arure to Vallehermoso
Walk 23 GR 132: Vallehermoso to Hermigua
Walk 24 GR 132: Hermigua to San Sebastián
Walk 25 GR 132.1: Igualero to La Dama
Walk 26 GR 131: Playa de Vallehermoso to Chipude
Walk 27 GR 131: Chipude to San Sebastián
Food and drink
Tourist information offices
Walk 28 Valverde and La Caleta
Walk 29 Valverde and Puerto de la Estaca
Walk 30 Valverde, Echedo and El Mocanal
Walk 31 Valverde to La Peña
Walk 32 La Peña, San Andrés and El Mocanal
Walk 33 Puerto de la Estaca, La Cuesta and Tiñor
Walk 34 Mirador de Isora and Las Playas
Walk 35 El Pinar to Cala de Tacorón
Walk 36 El Pinar to La Restinga
Walk 37 Ermita de Los Reyes to El Pinar
Walk 38 El Pinar to Sabinosa
Walk 39 La Dehesa Circuit
Walk 40 Sabinosa to El Frontera
Walk 41 El Frontera and Los Llanillos
Walk 42 Guinea and San Andrés
Walk 43 Las Puntas and Guinea
Walk 44 GR 131: Orchilla to Fuente de Llanía
Walk 45 GR 131: Fuente de Llanía to Estaca/Tamaduste
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Topographical glossary
Appendix C Useful contacts
The Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN), www.cnig.es, publishes maps of the Canary Islands at scales of 1:50,000 and 1:25,000. These are part of the Mapa Topográfico Nacional (MTN) series. To avoid disappointment, please check the style and quality of these maps before making a purchase, since they generally do not show the sort of details that walkers require.
For La Gomera the best map of the island and its network of signposted trails is the one seen mounted on map-boards around the island. It is rather annoying that all this fine detail has been mapped, yet the map itself is not available for purchase. Hopefully, it will be available one day, and in the meantime walkers can refer to the information in this guidebook, and supplement the guide with another map. The 1:30,000 Kompass map of La Gomera is good, and this is available in Britain with an Automobile Association cover, as the AA Island Series 8 – La Gomera.
On El Hierro the tourist information offices provide a free map of the trail network, which can be used with a topographical map. The 1:30,000 Kompass map of El Hierro is good, and this is available in Britain with an Automobile Association cover, as the AA Island Series 5 - El Hierro.
Maps can be ordered in advance from British suppliers such as: Stanfords (12–14 Long Acre, London, WC2E 9BR, tel. 0207 8361321, www.stanfords.co.uk), The Map Shop (15 High Street, Upton-upon-Severn, WR8 0HJ, tel. 01684 593146, www.themapshop.co.uk) or Cordee (11 Jacknell Road, Dodwell Bridge Industrial Estate, Hinckley, LE10 3BS, tel. 01455 611185, www.cordee.co.uk).
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A new and very detailed 1:25,000 scale map of La Gomera has been published by Editorial Alpina. This is easily the best map of the island, covering all of its splendid signposted and waymarked trails. https://www.editorialalpina.com/en/alpina-map/la-gomera-p-n-garajonay/
Walks 19 to 27 - The GR132 and GR131 are now equipped with stout marker posts at 1 kilometre intervals.
Walk 43 - Las Puntas and Guinea - Almost the whole of the rocky coastal path from Punta Grande to La Maceta has been transformed. A wooden boardwalk has been laid on top of the lava, equipped with several short detours to shelters and seating at a number of viewpoints. The rocky path was never particularly difficult, but this now makes it very easy to walk.
La Gomera - Route Numbering Changes
The network of waymarked trails on La Gomera was established using a numbering system and colour coding. ‘PR’ trails were flashed yellow/white and ‘GR’ trails were flashed red/white. Recently, the network has been overhauled and signposts are beginning to be replaced. Mostly, the signposting mentioned in the book remains current, but there are now other signposts blazed ‘Let’s Gomera’, with a new numbering system that will also be noticed. The following numbers will be seen on signposts, in the following order…
Walk 1 - San Sebastián and Jaragán - 32, 31, 30
Walk 2 - Los Roques and La Laja - 29, 2
Walk 3 - Risco de la Fortaleza - 25, 27, 28
Walk 4 - Los Roques and Benchijigua - 23, 24
Walk 5 - Pajaritos to Playa de Santiago - 19, 20, 24
Walk 6 - Chipude and Barranco de Argaga - 16
Walk 7 - Chipude and La Matanza - 15
Walk 8 - La Laguna Grande and Alto de Garajonay
Walk 9 - El Cercado and Valle Gran Rey - 12, 13
Walk 10 - Las Hayas, Arure and Valle Gran Rey - 11, 9
Walk 11 - Vallehermoso to Chorros de Epina - 4, 7
Walk 12 - Vallehermoso and Cumbre de Chijeré - 6, 7, 4
Walk 13 - Vallehermoso and Los Loros - 3
Walk 14 - Vallehermoso and El Tión - 3, 39
Walk 15 - Tamargada and Vallehermoso - 6, 38
Walk 16 - Hermigua and Aguló - 34, 35, 33
Walk 17 - Alto de Garajonay to Hermigua - 37
Walk 18 - Santa Catalina and La Caleta - 33
Walk 19 GR 132 - San Sebastián to Playa de Santiago - 27, 28, 25
Walk 20 GR 132 - Playa de Santiago to La Dama - 22, 21, 26, 17
Walk 21 GR 132 - La Dama to Arure - 16, 15, 9
Walk 22 GR 132 - Arure to Vallehermoso - 7, 10, 5
Walk 23 GR 132 - Vallehermoso to Hermigua - 39, 40, 36, 35, 34, 33
Walk 24 GR 132 - Hermigua to San Sebastián - 30
Walk 25 GR 132.1 - Igualero to La Dama - 26, 17
Walk 26 GR 131 - Playa de Vallehermoso to Chipude - 6, 3
Walk 27 GR 131 - Chipude to San Sebastián - 2, 1
Note that Walk 8 in the National Park - La Laguna Grande and Alto de Garajonay - suffered a forest fire and will take years to recover.
New La Gomera Trail Map
A new map of the trail network is available free of charge from Tourist Information Offices on La Gomera, but you have to ask for it by name - ‘Camina La Gomera’. It shows the new numbering system for the trails, and is more detailed than any map of the island that you could purchase. It is drawn at a scale close to 1:50,000 and can therefore be used easily alongside the maps in the guidebook. The use of this map is highly recommended.
New La Gomera Bus Website
Owing to a production error, the map scale at the bottom of the map key on page 8 is incorrect, and also the statement in the introduction of the book (on page 24) about the scale of the maps. All maps in the book are in fact at roughly 1:50,000.
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Paddy Dillon is a prolific walker and guidebook writer with over 90 guidebooks to his name, and contributions to 40 other titles. He has written for several outdoor magazines and other publications, and has appeared on radio and TV. Paddy is an indefatigable long-distance walker who has walked all of Britain’s National Trails and several European trails. He has also walked in Nepal, Tibet, Korea and the Rocky Mountains of Canada and the US. Paddy is a member of the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild and President of the Backpackers Club.