The El Cable to Fuente Dé hiking trail is an easy-moderate day hike in the central massif of Picos de Europa in Northern Spain. The official trail name is PR-PNPE-24 Puertos de Áliva.
This hike begins with the Fuente Dé cable car ascent to the El Cable mountain station.
From El Cable (1834 m), the trail gently rises through a limestone rockscape to the Horcadina de Covarrobles pass.
From the pass, trail PR-PNPE-24 descends to Hotel Refugio Áliva and the sprawling Puertos de Áliva grasslands.
The descent continues through an enchanting mixed forest all the way down to the Vega del Naranco limestone cirque at Fuente Dé.
This is a low-exertion hike in Picos de Europa National Park with sweeping mountain views and varied scenery. Though the trail isn’t demanding, it’s still 15.2 km long. On hot days, it’s likely to feel much harder than expected.
After the El Cable – Fuente Dé hike, head to Espinama village for lunch. We ate a wonderful meal at Vicente Campo Restaurante (Google Maps).
Puertos de Áliva Hike: El Cable – Refugio de Áliva – Fuente Dé
- Starting Point: Fuente Dé Parking | Google Maps
- Trailhead: El Cable
- Distance: 15.2 km circuit with cable car ascent
- Time Needed: 5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 220 meters
- Elevation Loss: 980 meters
- Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
- Minimum Elevation: 1067 meters
- Maximum Elevation: 1933 meters
- Where to Stay in Fuente Dé: Parador de Fuente Dé hotel
- Where to Stay in Camaleño Valley: Posada San Pelayo (budget), Apartamentos la Ventana de Mogrovejo (midrange), and Posada Laura (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Potes: Casa Cayo (budget), Apartamentos Casa de la Abuela (midrange), or Villa Elena (midrange with parking)
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Puertos de Áliva Hiking Map
Where is Fuente Dé
Fuente Dé (1094 m) is located in Picos de Europa National Park at the end of the Camaleño Valley road in Liébana, Cantabria.
Fuente Dé is a natural area defined by a striking cirque that’s flanked by vertical limestone walls and surrounded by mixed forest. It’s also the source of the Deva River.
The main attraction is the Fuente Dé Cable Car (Teleférico Fuente Dé in Spanish), which links Camaleño Valley with the Central Massif of Picso de Europa.
The closest village to Fuente Dé is Espinama (5-minute drive) and the closest town is Potes (25-minute-drive).
Fuente Dé Cable Car
The 20-passenger Fuente Dé cable car connects the Fuente Dé valley station (1094 m) with the El Cable mountain station (1834 m) in 4 minutes.
Tickets | You can purchase tickets on-site, however we recommend buying tickets online in advance to avoid wait times. The Puertos de Áliva hike only requires a one-way ticket.
Operating Times | The operating times change throughout the season. Please check cantur.com for the current schedule.
Parking | Google Maps
PR24 Puertos de Áliva Trail Description
Mirador del Cable to Horcadina de Covarrobles (20 minutes)
There are some facilities at El Cable mountain station, including public restrooms and a cafeteria.
The “Mirador del Cable” viewpoint is located directly at the mountain station. This metal balcony-like platform offers panoramic views of Camamleño Valley, prominent peaks of the Picos de Europa central massif (Urrieles), and the Cantabrian mountains.
With views of barren limestone mountains, follow the well-graded track north to Horcadina de Covarrobles pass (1933 m). There’s only one trail.
There’s a signed junction at the pass. The left trail leads to the summit of Horcados Rojos (PR-PNPE-23), while the right trail leads to Áliva – Espinama – Fuente Dé (PR-PNPE-24).
Turn right in the direction of Áliva.
Horcadina de Covarrobles to Hotel Áliva (40 minutes)
The wide trail comfortably crosses the southeastern slope of Agujas de Tajahierro (2217 m) and Peña Olvidada (2406 m).
When we hiked this trail in early June, we saw at least a dozen chamois galloping across the remaining snowfields in the scree. We also saw three vultures flying above.
As you progress, the mountain views crescendo in drama and beauty. A wall of craggy limestone peaks “melts” into a wave of rolling green meadows. It reminded us of the south face of the Dachstein in Austria.
These sprawling meadows are called Puertos de Áliva. And, they stretch between the Central (Urrieles) and Eastern (Ándara) Massifs.
In summer, cattle graze freely across the Puertos de Áliva pastures.
The wide gravel path skirts the Cuetos de Juan Toribio mountain and continues to descend to Hotel Refugio de Áliva.
Along the way, you’ll pass the Fuente del Resalao fountain and the red-roofed Chalet Real, the historic hunting lodge of King Alfonso XIII.
Hotel Refugio Áliva is a rustic accommodation with a restaurant. It was the former accommodation of the miners of Mánforas.
Hotel Refugio de Áliva to Portilla del Boquejón (1 hour)
At Refugio de Áliva, continue right in the direction of Espinama.
Note: the left trail leads through Duje Valley to Sotres-Pandébano (GR-202 Ruta de la Reconquista).
This gravel road is also used by Hotel Refugio de Áliva for guest pick-ups and by tour operators for road tours. It didn’t really impact our hike, but I’m always annoyed when I have to breathe in car exhaust in the mountains.
At this point, the best views are behind you, making it very tempting to walk backwards.
When our trail intersects with the Sotres-Espinama gravel track (GR-202), near a stone shelter, turn right to Espinama and Fuente Dé.
As you descend the wide valley, you’ll see the Majadas de Espinama stone shelters and pasture area on your right.
Continue following signs to Espinama and Fuente Dé.
Soon after the Fuente de los Asturianos fountain, the trail passed through a natural narrowing called Las Portillas.
Cross the cattle grid at the Portilla del Boquejón gate (1350 m) and follow the paver walkway to the next junction.
Portilla del Boquejón to Fuente Dé (1:45 hours)
Turn right and cross the wooden bridge in the direction of Fuente Dé, now signed 1:45 hours.
The narrow hiking path crosses the verdant, blooming slopes of Pico de Valdecoro.
With the Cantabrian mountains ahead, the scenery is altogether different now.
Following the white-yellow-waymarked timber posts, the rugged trail drops down steeply. The twisting path is further bolstered with timber steps.
Our Fuente Dé-bound trail enters the leafy mixed forest of hawthorn, oak, beech, and chestnut, and it’s a great relief on a hot summer’s day.
There’s another sign, indicating 45 minutes to Fuente Dé.
The path ultimately crosses a meadow. There’s a pasture fence, you’ll have to duck under (or possibly walk around).
Shortly thereafter, turn right, between a wired-timber fence, crossing another grazing meadow.
The limestone walls rising around the Vega del Naranco Cirque come into full view. What an ending!!
Cross the wide-open meadows of Vega del Naranco back to the car park at Fuente Dé.
Where to Stay near the Fuente Dé Cable Car
There are two accommodations located in Fuente Dé: Parador de Fuente Dé hotel and Hotel Rebeco. Read the latest reviews. Parador de Fuente Dé hotel is the better option, though it’s in need of some renovations.
Camaleño Valley is sprinkled with guesthouses, apartments, and a few hotels.
Espinama is the largest village in the valley, and naturally has the highest concentration of restaurants and accommodations.
Here are the best-rated accommodations in Camaleño Valley, ordered west to east.
Budget | Albergue Turístico Briz is a clean hostel in Espinama with dormitory rooms, a communal kitchen, and a garden.
Midrange | Apartamentos Remoña 1 offers simple 2-bedroom apartments in Espinama.
Budget | Rio Cubo Apartments are lovingly-furnished apartments in quiet Cosgaya with nearby free parking. The apartments are well-equipped and cozy. Like most places, sound proofing could be better.
Top-choice – Midrange | Apartamentos la Ventana de Mogrovejo boasts stylish and spacious 2-bedroom apartments in the pretty village of Mogrovejo. Stay here for the mountain views, unique location, garden access, and free private parking.
Top-Choice Budget | Posada San Pelayo is a rustic and charming country house with double rooms and a swimming pool in the village of San Pelayo. Guests love the relaxing setting, mountain views, garden, and hosts. Breakfast is available.
Budget | La Casona De Baró is an inviting guesthouse housed in an 18th-century country house in Baró. Breakfast is available.
Luxury | Posada Laura is a rural hotel with spacious rooms, situated in the quiet village of Turieno, a mere 5-minute drive to Potes. Breakfast is available.
For a more lively base (albeit more difficult parking in high season), we recommend staying in the medieval town of Potes. Read our Potes travel guide to find out what to see and do around this Cantabrian town.
Top Choice – Midrange | Villa Elena is an intimate B&B, located outside of the town center, but still within walking distance (7 minutes). Stay here for the quiet location, private parking, relaxing garden, and home-cooked breakfast.
Budget | Casa Cayo is a friendly hotel and restaurant set in the center of Potes. A hearty breakfast is included. No on-site parking.
Top-rated – Midrange | Apartamentos Casa de la Abuela (3 nights minimum stay) offers lovely 1-2 bedroom apartments with well-equipped kitchens in a central, but quiet location in Potes. No on-site parking.
Budget-Midrange | Hosteria Sierra del Oso offers clean and tasteful studio apartments in Potes. For the most comfort, book the air-conditioned penthouse apartment. No on-site parking.
Budget | Apartamento El Nial de Potes (2 nights minimum stay) offers 1-2 bedroom apartments with well-equipped kitchens and washing machines. Guests love the location and river views. Beds could be better. No on-site parking.
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Picos de Europa Trip Planning Essentials
Picos de Europa National Park stretches across three regions in Northern Spain: Asturias, Cantabria, and León (Castile and León).
It comprises the majestic Picos de Europa Mountains, a limestone mountain range composed of three massifs.
How to Get to Picos de Europa
The closest airports to Picos de Europa are Santander Airport in Cantabria, the Asturias Airport (aka Oviedo-Ranón, OVD) in Asturias, and the Bilbao Airport in Basque Country.
We recommend renting a car from the airport and driving directly to Picos de Europa National Park. Follow our 10-day Picos de Europa road trip itinerary for inspiration.
Use the intuitive Discovercars.com car rental reservation platform to search for and book car rentals. This easy-to-use booking platform compares car rental deals from 500+ trusted providers, so that you can choose the best option for your trip.
Where to Stay in Picos de Europa
We recommend dividing your time between Northern Picos de Europa and Eastern Picos de Europa. If you have more time, extend your visit to Southern Picos de Europa and Northwestern Picos de Europa.
Northern Picos de Europa: Poncebos, Arenas de Cabrales (Las Arenas), Sotres, or Tielve in Asturias
Eastern Picos de Europa: Potes, or Camaleño Valley in Cantabria
Southern Picos de Europa: Valdeón Valley, or Caín in León
Northwestern Picos de Europa: Cangas de Onís, Soto de Cangas, Llerices, or Covadonga in Asturias
Find out where to base yourself in the national park in Where to Stay in Picos de Europa.
Hiking in the Picos de Europa National Park
Hiking in Picos de Europa National Park is an extraordinary experience filled with magical landscapes of lush forests, craggy mountains, and deep gorges.
We also hiked this riveting 2-day Refugio Jou de los Cabrones trek.
Picos de Europa Packing List
- Day Pack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack
- Grade B/C high-cut hiking boots: Meindl Schuhe Island Lady (Kati’s Boots), Women’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (Sabrina’s Boots), Men’s Hanwag Tatra II GTX (men’s equivalent)
- CAT 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
- Hiking Poles: Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles
- Reusable Water Bottle: Ion Leakproof 32 oz Water Bottle