Marcos y Cordero, a trail full of surprises in La Palma

La Palma is nature, pure and wild. The green island or the Isla Bonita, as it is called by those who have had the pleasure of visiting this volcanic island. One of the clearest examples of this exuberant nature is the water trail, as it is known. It runs along the springs of Marcos y Cordero, and is one of the most visited and best known of the island. Not in vain runs through the first Biosphere Reserve of the island.
On this hike you will discover the deepest laurel forest, so typical of this area of La Palma and the island of La Gomera. There are also unique birds, a lot of peace, unique views and, of course, water. So it’s time to get wet. Yes, it’s no joke, although everything is explained later.

First things first, get to the starting point

To access this trail you must reach the municipality of San Andrés y Sauces. From the capital of La Palma, Santa Cruz de La Palma, you must follow the road that takes you to the north of the island. You can’t get lost. In fact, there is only one road to the north to follow. You will cross the municipality of Puntallana and its incredible coastline, towards Los Sauces. When you cross a huge bridge, you will have arrived at Los Sauces, a charming village.

Bridge of San Andrés y Sauces

Bridge of San Andrés y Sauces. | Shutterstock

Following the sign for Los Tilos, on the left hand side, you will reach the reserve through a somewhat curious road, but with spectacular views of the forest. When you arrive, you will find a wooden house and cars parked around it, although it is recommended to park a little further on, in a marked parking area. The trail begins next to the wooden house.

There are usually cabs waiting to take you up to the trailhead. It is recommended to book one in advance, especially in summer. Even if you have a car, it is better not to go to the starting point with it. You need a 4×4 and the cab drivers know the route very well. The usual is to go up with more visitors to share costs. The path to the Casa del Monte, where the hike begins, is a spectacle that looks like something out of Jurassic Park.

Another recommendation is to bring a raincoat, although many unsuspecting tourists are seen covered with garbage bags, a typical image of this trail.

Marcos y Cordero

Starting point of Marcos y Cordero, along the water channel. | Shutterstock

The 13 water tunnels

The hike begins with spectacular views of the forest and cliffs, following the water tunnels. Undoubtedly, the great attraction of this route are the 13 tunnels between the Casa del Monte and the springs of Marcos y Cordero. 13 tunnels full of mystery, calm and… lots of water. This is where the raincoats will be needed. In addition, a flashlight will do, since in some tunnels the darkness is total. Each tunnel is getting lower and lower, finding in several of them, windows that show the abyss of the Barranco del Agua. But do not be afraid of this, the tunnels are safe and well marked.

Marcos y Cordero

Window of one of the tunnels with water. | Shutterstock

Beware the higher ones, you have to crouch in the last tunnels. The feeling is worthy of an Indiana Jones expedition walking through them. In fact, getting wet is one of the most fun things about this trail. As you exit the last tunnel, several waterfalls appear on the left hand side: the Marcos y Cordero springs. As in a jungle, they flood the environment with the roar of the water. On the right, the barranco, with incredible views of the forest.

Marcos y Cordero springs

The springs of Marcos y Cordero. | Shutterstock

The forest of Los Tilos, laurel forest in its purest state

From here, the road continues to the forest of Los Tilos, through the Barranco del  Agua, with abundant vegetation. The laurel forest is spectacular, full of life and unique sounds. The trail is all downhill, although you must be well prepared to walk. Towards the visitor center of Los Tilos, there is a viewpoint that leaves you speechless: the Espigón Atravesado. With this curious name, it offers a complete panoramic view of the entire forest of Los Tilos. The views are impressive, they make one feel small.

Views from el Espigón Atravesado

Views from el Espigón Atravesado. | Shutterstock

From here, appears once again the Canary pine, so resistant that it even survives the fires that, unfortunately, have hit the island on some occasions. Silence invades the landscape, the humidity calms the stifling summer heat. A trail that activates the five senses. Revitalizing and incomparable.

The final surprise: an incredible waterfall

We were not lying when we said that Marcos y Cordero is a trail full of surprises. One of the best is Los Tilos waterfall. Arriving at the little wooden house from which we started our trail… do you remember it? Well, from here continuing towards the parking lot, before the ascent to the visitor center, there is a small entrance on the left side of the road.

In five minutes you reach the waterfall of Los Tilos. Five minutes in which to finish being surprised, even more, by the incredible variety of trees, after going through another tunnel. Yes, another one. On the way out, the view of the waterfall is dreamy. What better plan than a swim after a morning’s hike? Yes, bathing is allowed and it is regenerating. But one can’t expect hot water here.

Los Tilos

After bathing and enjoying this wonderful waterfall, it will be time for a long and well-deserved rest. For this, around the visitor center, there are several picnic areas as well as a small restaurant. It is essential to enjoy the typical “bocadillo palmero” of meat, mojo and cheese. Surrounded by nature, this break tastes even better. Finally, if you still feel like another adventure, there is the visitor center, a place full of curious facts to put an end to the route. An end, but not the last. Because whoever visits this wonder, always dreams of returning.


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