The start of the path at the Minas de San Jose
This walk is a good one to do at this time of year, when the flowers are out in the National Park. This year, however, due to a largely dry winter, there is not a profusion of flower as in some years, but there is still a lot to see, mostly endemic species that you will not see elsewhere in the world. It is on good surfaces, mainly downhill or level, so is quite easy walking. It is a linear walk, so requires two vehicles, one at each end. The length is 11.2 km and descent of about 300m/985ft, and ascent of about 150m. It took us 3 hours. Some of the descent, which is near the beginning, is fairly steep, but all our group managed it well, as the path was in good condition and easy to follow.
Canary endemic Flixweed (Descourainia bourgeauana)
The walk starts at the Minas de San Jose, and area of white pumice between the Teide cable car and El Portillo, on the main road. There is a parking area there, on both sides of the road, and the path starts on the south side. There is a sign describing the initial path, which is called Las Valles (the valleys), and is national park path no 30. The path is clearly delineated with two rows of stones.
Tenerife endemic, the pink-flowered Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) next to Canary endemic, Teide sticky broom (with yellow flowers) (Adenocarpus viscous)
The Minas de San Jose is an area where the blue viper’s bugloss (tajinaste azul in Spanish) (Echium auberianum) grows and I have seen it there in the past, so I was hopeful we would see some. However, it is a very rare Tenerife endemic, and this year is more difficult to see than usual, so I only saw on the walk one specimen in flower, and that was very stunted, not a good 60cm/2ft high spike. However, when I got into the car and began the drive home from the Minas de San Jose I saw a delightful specimen by the side of the road. Unfortunately I could not stop to take a photo of it. So if you want to see one this year, park your car in the parking area and walk a short way down the road in the direction of the Teide cable car and you will see one on the north side. Be careful of the road, though, it is narrow, and cars do come past quite fast.
A stunted specimen of the rare Tenerife endemic, Dwarf Teide bugloss or tajinaste azul (Echium auberianum)
At first the path wanders through a pleasant valley with flowers and rocks either side. Many of the rocks in this area have shiny black stripes in them, which is obsidian or volcanic glass. You pass two trees which look like Christmas trees (Norway spruce), but I don’t believe they are. The foliage looks very like the cedro, the high mountain form of Juniper (Juniperus cedrus) which is a Macronesian (Atlantic Island) endemic, but the shape is far from typical.
A view of the caldera wall, with Teide white broom (Spartocytisus supranubius) in the foreground
Then the path turns back towards the road and meets a T-junction where you turn right, continuing downhill. Shortly the steep part of the descent begins, but take time to stop and look at the views of the caldera wall ahead, as well as the rocks and plants. In addition to the white-flowered Teide broom or Retama (Spartocytisus supranubius)with its heady scent, there were the yellow flowers of Flixweed (Descurainia bourgeauana) and Teide sticky broom (Adenocarpus viscosus), pink flowers of the Shrubby scabious (Pterocephalus lasiospermus) and the odd purple Teide catmint (Nepeta teydea).
Mountain wall lettuce (Tolpis webbii) in clumps on the rocks.
Gradually the path becomes less steep and finally is on the level on a good pumice surface, approaching the caldera wall we first saw at the top of the descent, where we joined a wider track.
A view to Mt Teide as we got near to El Portillo
The track is known as the Pista Siete Cañadas. It runs along the base of the caldera wall (mostly) all the way from El Portillo to near the Parador. We turned left to go to El Portillo and followed it for the rest of the walk, enjoying the changing views of Mt Teide as we walked. On this stretch we saw two more Canary endemic species with yellow flowers, the Mountain wall lettuce (Tolpis webbii), and the Canary fennel (Ferula linkii). We also saw a few of the large and impressive red Teide bugloss (Echium wildpretii), but they were high up a rocky slope to our right, and we had to wait till we got to El Portillo to see them nearby.
Canary endemic Teide vipers bugloss (Echium wildpretii), near El Portillo