Following on from my recent post week featuring a short hike we did in Teide National Park when on holiday in Tenerife back in February (which you can read here if you haven’t already), today you’re getting another. As with that hike, this is a wonderful way to get yourself away from the crowds, and to a great vantage point for views of beautiful coastal scenery. It’s popular, no doubt about that, but I’d suggest this short couple-of-hour hike down on the south coast of Tenerife is a must-do walk if you are spending a week on the island.
You will spot Montana Roja as you land at Tenerife; it’s the large red hump sticking out to sea on the south coast just a couple of miles from Tenerife South Airport. Most people won’t then see it until they head back to the airport and head for home, but we were fortunate to have it right on our doorstep as we stayed in La Tejita (read my Tenerife focused weekly blog here). This short walk is a circular route giving you both views of the mountain from sea level, as well as 360 degree views of the area from the top – you’ve got to add this to your itinerary if you travel to Tenerife.
Montana Roja is a sandy nature reserve with beaches, coves, rocks, a volcano and great views. Not just confined to the “red mountain”, the nature reserve covers 410 acres of inorganic sand and wetlands. The Montaña Roja volcano sticks out of the landscape 171 metres (561 feet) above sea level, and is apparently the result of a coastal eruption that became joined to the island by lava – it literally erupted from the sea! There’s even an ancient salt flat here, nothing on the scale of those in Utah or Bolivia of course, but super interesting to see.
You don’t have to climb up the red mountain to get a sense of this place, but it is worth the effort if you have the time. Allow yourself a couple of hours, grab some water and maybe a snack and earn that ice cream.
Route and Way Finding
This route is short but reasonably energetic, in that you’re walking on sand, then up a reasonably steep hill. While this is not a walk to be done in flip flops, you don’t need full on hiking boots to tackle it, a pair of trainers with a grippy sole will do very nicely. I’m told this is a popular trail running route, and I did see a couple of runners up there.
I probably don’t need to say it, but I will, please note that this is not open land for you to wander around. The low-level paths are very well marked, and as with moorlands back home in the UK, we are asked to stick to them so as not to add to the erosion of this special landscape. The land is recovering here, it looks barren but grasses and other plants are starting to grow, and that is thanks to it being preserved and looked after. As you get higher up the mountain the paths are no longer marked with border stones, but they are still obvious. Leave no trace is as important here as anywhere else with a delicate ecosystem.
I found a couple of routes online but in fairness, as long as you are sensible, you don’t need a map for this one. I mean, you can pretty much see the path that heads up the hill from the shore, and there aren’t many paths to choose from to go up the hill. Just make sure you leave yourself enough time, take some water, and don’t head up if the weather is too windy – it’s exposed up there! I’ve attempted to draw the route on Google Maps (above) to give you an idea, but you’ll soon work it out!
I started my walk from our accommodation in La Tejita. I walked across the beach, which was deserted at this time in the morning, towards the big red rock the other side of the bay. The beach is brown and sandy. There is a cove at the foot of Montana Roja which is designated a Naturist beach, but be warned that naturists don’t stick to this area and in the daytime you’ll come across naked bodies all along the dunes and right by the path… Thankfully for me, I had the place to myself at 7am on this particular Friday morning, which is why I was able to get a few people-free snaps of the view from this side of the rock in the early morning sunlight.
Once at the foot of Montana Roja, the path starts to head up. And up. The path is a mix of rocky and sandy here, wide to begin with, but narrowing after heading around one of the many World War II bunkers dotted around the Tenerife coastline. The path undulates for quite some distance around to the “back” of Montana Roja, where you find a crossroads at which you turn right to head up to the summit. The climb is short but steep and will leave you panting (well, it did me). The stones are loose underfoot, making the ascent a slippery one, working your legs hard and making you thankful for decent shoes. As you near the summit, which is marked by a cylindrical trig pillar, the path narrows again and the drops either side get more significant; it’s not quite a ridge walk but it is narrow and there are no barriers here so be sure on your feet and watch where you are walking.
The views from the top of the rock are truly lovely – ocean to the south, La Tejita to the east, the airport and Mount Teide to the north, and El Medano to the west. It would have been a great spot for a cup of tea if I had brought a flask…
The descent begins on the same path down (those gravelly sections are now even more slippery…), but keep right to take the winding path down towards the sea on the other side of Montana Roja. I headed over to ascend the smaller (but still beautiful) Montana Bocinegro, an outcrop of the red mountain that points east and extends towards the bay of El Medano. You’ll find another white trig pillar here, and if you come in the afternoon or evening will be able to sit and watch kit surfers enjoy the windy shoreline this side of the rock.
The route back to Le Tejita takes you around the base of the mountain, through the ancient salt-flats and low sand dunes. You’ll pass another World War II bunker, one of the most well-preserved we saw in our week in Tenerife before you follow the rock-lined footpath through the delicate landscape. There are a handful of information boards on this part of the walk, which speak of the environment and life found within it. From there it is a straight forward meandering path back to Le Tejita centre with it’s supermarket, cafes and toilets.
In all it took me around two hours to walk the 4-ish mile route from (and back to) La Tejita, an early morning very well spent.
Be sure to drop me a line in the comments below or over on twitter to let me know if you do this hike after seeing it on my blog.