Walking Tour: Camino de Jinama

  • Start La Frontera
  • End Mirador de Jinama
  • Length 4.4km; 2½ hours
  • Difficulty Difficult

Both spectacular and challenging, the locally famous Camino de Jinama (part of the PREH8) follows an ancient donkey trail up the sheer mountainside behind La Frontera. Once the only link between El Golfo and northern El Hierro, it's now of the island's most rewarding hiking routes. It can be done in either direction, but climbing up is less jarring on the knees – and you'll wrap up with seriously thrilling clifftop views.

Start on La Frontera's Plaza de la Candelaria, with its 19th-century church. The Camino begins directly opposite the square, next to Joapira (a great cafe-restaurant); follow the 'Jinama' sign, then, almost immediately, the wooden '4.4km' sign and yellow-and-white markers to branch left at the fork.

To begin, you head southeast uphill on a paved road, past houses that give way to volcanic vineyards and views all the way down to the Roques de Salmor off the coast. The route becomes a signposted stone path and crosses the main road as it continues climbing.

After 1km the trail levels out and heads into the laurisilva forest, then reaches a clearing with a wooden cross perched atop a rock, known as the Cruz del Fraile. From here, you're tracking steeply uphill in switchbacks, passing fine mocán trees. At 2km in, the shady Mocán de la Sombra rest spot has wonderful views to the coast.

The path leaves the trees at 2.5km and continues along the side of a rocky cliff, with views spiralling down across El Golfo; shortly afterwards you come to awe-inspiring lookout point El Miradero. Back into the forest to the Descansadero de la Virgen, a stone bench amid the laurisilva.

At around 3.5km, the track opens out again, with a sheer drop, and ridgetop pines appear in the distance beyond a picnic area. Finally, the Camino emerges through a wooden archway beside a yellow-washed chapel and the 1230m-high Mirador de Jinama, from where a vertical wall sweeps down almost to your starting point.

From the Mirador, you could continue another 4.7km (signposted) through pastoral fields to San Andrés; alternatively, a taxi back down to La Frontera costs €25 (book ahead!).

Walking Tour: Camino de la Llanía

  • Start Fuente de la Llanía
  • End Fuente de la Llanía
  • Length 4.2km; 1½ hours
  • Difficulty Easy

This gentle, popular circular hiking route (SLEH1) weaves through the forested centre of the island, linking classic El Hierro landscapes of laurisilva, pine forest and volcanic hills. Following the trail anti-clockwise means you save the most majestic viewpoints for last. Go early for the best chance of having it all to yourself.

Begin in the car park at the stone Fuente de la Llanía, 7km southwest of San Andrés, and cross the HI1 eastwards to find signposts to 'El Brezal' (a Canarian heath forest) and a board outlining several variations of this walk. Our route follows the 4.2km green trail, but, if you like, can be extended at the northeastern and/or southwestern ends (5.6km or 7.4km/two or three hours total).

Plunge south into the fairytale-like forest along a shady path that soon passes a picnic table then a couple of sky-reaching pine trees whose needles carpet the floor. After less than a kilometre, the trail doubles back on itself and meanders on through the forest before crossing the HI40 into heathland, with wooden 'Sendero La Llanía' signposts keeping you on track along the way.

Around 2.5km into the route, you recross the HI1 via an underpass, then follow signs north uphill to the 1330m-high Hoya de Fireba – a 450m-wide, 160m-deep crater on El Golfo's escarpment, created by a succession of volcanic eruptions. The long-distance GR131 also passes through here. Back on the path, head west downhill for a few hundred metres to a pine-studded clearing with a couple of picnic tables: this is the Bailadero de las Brujas, a mythical meeting point for witches.

Leaving the spells behind, the trail wanders briefly uphill and northwest through a bare volcanic mountainscape, ducks into the moss-covered woods once more and, finally, emerges (at approximately 3.5km) at the wowing Mirador de la Llanía, with El Golfo laid out far, far below. From here, follow the path down through a final patch of enchanting forest to the car park when your adventure began.