Arco del Coronadero Walk

Route of the walk
Barranco Hondo de Amurga-Barranco de la Monta-Arco del Coronadero-Llanos de Berriel

Getting there: Take a number 01 Global bus
from the bus station in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (San Telmo).
Starting point: In Juan Grande, at the entrance to the crushing plant on the GC-500 main road south, at the 4.8 km point, where there’s a roundabout..
Distance: 9,3 kms.aprox.
Time: 3 horas.
Level: Medium.
End point: Bahía Feliz. Opposite the hotels there’s a walkway over the road and sheltered bus stops at point 8.1 km on the GC-500 road, with buses to several destinations.

GLOBAL reserves the right to change this information.

Venturing into the Amurga ravine requires a sense of adventure and a desire to discover a hidden, lonely corner of Gran Canaria far from civilisation, where the geological sites are protected only by the magnificence of the volcanic activity that created them. Many visitors, astounded by the geological spectacle, make the inevitable comparisons: “Barranco Hondo is similar to some parts of the Grand Canyon, and Arco del Coronadero is like some of the arches in Arches National Park, in the United States”. Similarities and differences aside, hikers who walk the ridges formed by phonolitic lava flows around 12 million years ago will discover the hidden delights of Amurga, including geological, archaeological, ethnographic and botanical attractions.

It’s impossible to take in everything on this walk, so the route includes just a small part of the 5810 hectares of the Amurga slopes, between the Tirajana and Fataga ravines.

SECTION 1º: Road-stone water channel-track on the ravine bed-arrival at the tunnel.

Approximate time 45 minutes. Distance: 2.8 km.

The walk starts on the road between Juan Grande and Bahía Feliz. Walk along the small road used by the trucks that access the stone crushing plant, passing under the motorway. You’ll walk about 700 m along this road and just after you go under the motorway you need to take a track that leads up to the left.
Immediately after the rise, head to the right off the track and cross some old crop land. Walk towards a rocky wall where there’s an old stone water channel. You’ll also see a pylon. After crossing an area with no track, you’ll find a rough, unkept track that curves up towards the channel.

At the water channel, take a path along side it heading N, as if you were heading towards the crushing plant. Walk along the channel, sometimes next to it and sometimes right inside it, until you come to a rocky outcrop. By walking along the channel you avoid having to go through the crushing plant and you can see the ravine walls with their dark red rocks, caves and small arches that are a foretaste of the rest of the walk.

After you’ve been walking for about 2 km following the channel, which has some broken sections and parts that are overgrown with hawthorn, you need to go down to the track in the bed of the ravine and follow it until the end, right at the entrance to the tunnel, which is on the left and is hidden by the wall that collects the rainwater from Barranco Hondo.

SECTION 2º: Tunnel-Barranco de La Monta-Ascent to the pass-water channel-Arco del Coronadero.

Approximate time: 1 hour. Distance: 2.6 km.

Tunnel to carry water from one ravine to another, from El Hondo to Presa del Conde. Gravel and stones have piled up at the tunnel recently clogging up the entry.
Both arches are eroded and climbing on them is not advisable, and of course standing underneath them for too long should be avoided. The arches could crumble at any time

Start this hardest section of the walk by going through the tunnel (with a torch). After winter rain there can be puddles. You’ll come out at the ravine of Barranco de La Monta. There’s no track but continue walking along the bed of the ravine around 10 minutes until you come to “the window”.

The rock takes its name from a circular window shape that straddles a runoff chute in the ravine. It’s an unusual form surrounded by small pools of water carved into the smooth rock of the ravine bed.

For this part you’ll need to use your hands to help you climb. Then you’ll pass a large curve in the ravine and then when the bed of the ravine starts to level out, keep an eye out about five minutes after the curve for a wall of smooth rocks in the form of scree, on the right as you go up. A few stone mounds indicate the ascent to the right.

Go up between the loose rock, in a straight line as far as the ridge and then head left a bit to tackle the ascent perpendicular to the spurge plants on the top. These large plants stand out on the slope just below the pass you need to head to.

When you reach the ridge, the division between the ravines Barranco de La Monta and Barranco Hondo, you’ll find a concrete water channel that you’ll follow for a few metres on the left. Take note of this site because you’ll come back to it after you’ve been to the arch. Going up the water channel you’ll tackle the next ascent of a water course that goes as far as a stony flat. As a reference, you’ll see a hill in front of you called Montaña de las Tabaibas, with aerials on the top.

As you walk along this ridge heading NW, look out for a rocky mound on the right. A second outcrop comes into view when the track widens a bit. Soon you’ll come to the arch at Arco del Coronadero, although you won’t see it till you’re right there. Opposite the arch, in the middle of the Barranco Hondo ravine, you’ll see a huge rock formation that looks like a fortress and is known as Alto del Coronadero, where there’s an archaeological site. You’ll see it immediately because it’s just opposite the rocky arch and it has 36 cylindrical stone turrets on top. The origins of these piles of sandstone could lie in magic, religion or archaeoastronomy.

At this point you have several options. You can keep going up to the peak of Amurga, on a continuous ascent, or go up a little further and once you’ve passed the arch, take a small path that goes down one side of Barranco Hondo. You could also cross over the ravine of Barranco de La Monta (at the gully of Cañada de La Majadilla) and go up the dirt tracks that will take you to the top of Montaña de las Tabaibas, which is easy to spot because of the large spurge plants and the aerials on the top.

However, the walk suggested here will let you discover the dam Presa del Conde (also known as Presa de la Monta), so you’ll need to take the option of going back along the stony ridge to the concrete water channel, where you’ll find a dirt track.

Presa del Conde full of water after rain in 2006

SECTION 3º: Dirt track on the ridge-Presa del Conde (Presa de La Monta)-Llanos de Berriel-tunnel on the GC-1 motorway

Approximate time: 1 hour. Distance: 3.9 km.
This is the longest section of the walk. It has little variation, but it’s quick to walk. Head S along the track, with a view of the two ravines. At the first fork continue straight on, heading downwards, until the next intersection, where you need to go right. After going round a few curves, the track ends next to a rocky outcrop. Leave the track and take a path to the right that goes alongside a few isolated spurge plants. You’ll come to another track after going round the rocky outcrop, where you’ll see some caves.

Head down towards a pylon, at an intersection. Go right to head down on another track next to the dam.

You’ll come to the dam wall of Presa de La Monta (or Presa del Conde) and then as you continue on the dirt track towards Llanos de Berriel, you’ll soon see signposts for “cantera” (quarry). At a curve as you go down, keep going straight ahead and then go up a ridge and look out over the hotels in Bahía Feliz. On the side of the dirt track you’ll see cars and trucks. Cross over a small ravine and then turn left, heading S-SW, to go under the motorway to the main road south, which is the end of the walk.

Barranco Hondo is one of the remotest parts of the Island, Its location and V shape evoke mystery and adventure. A place to escape in Gran Canaria

Things to see:

Presa de la Monta
The dam Presa de La Monta (also known as Presa del Conde in reference to its owner, the Count of Vega Grande) has a capacity of 664,425 m3 and was completed in 1980.

It’s in the area of Llanos del Berriel, where the phonolitic slopes in Amurga, from the Miocene, start to have a less rugged outline. The ravine Barranco de La Monta is met by tributaries from Montaña de las Tabaibas and at the exact location of the dam, its name changes to Barranco de La Majadilla.

Arco del Coronadero
This is the island’s largest natural arch. It’s both spectacular and huge, but getting there requires a major effort. Sitting in its shadow and looking at the lower part of Barranco Hondo de Amurga and the landscape it towers over are pleasures reserved only for seasoned hikers.

The arch is 315 m above sea level, on a ridge that divides the start of the Barranco de La Monta ravine and the bed of Barranco Hondo. It’s a typical example of Gran Canaria’s erosive morphology in the form of phonolitic lava flows from the island’s phonolitic formation (Miocene). Surface water slowly erodes the softer rocks that make up the phonolitic lava flows. This process can be understood only by considering millions of years of geology, where erosion uncovers the hardest materials and leaves behind a morphology of arches and other curious shapes, such as rock formations (Roque Nublo, Bentayga, Fraile and La Rana), crags and “fortresses”. The hardness of the rock is due to its geochemical and mineralogical composition, the external structure (mid-scale forms measuring metres or kilometres) and internal textures (petrological features at a microscopic scale of cm or mm).

A final point of interest is that Arches National Park, in the state of Utah (USA), was created in 1971. This park is famous for its natural red sandstone arches and has more than 1000 structures of this kind.

Photo of a spurge (plant symbol of Gran Canaria)

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