Don't Miss: Striding Out in Garajonay
Many of the trails that criss-cross the Parque Nacional de Garajonay have been used by the gomeros for hundreds of years as a means of getting around the island. Experienced walkers will generally find most hikes in the Garajonay area fairly easy (but nonetheless rewarding), though there are a few challenging routes.
Although several guiding companies lead convenient, transport-included hikes in and around the national park, the many and varied access points make it simple to explore independently and most routes are decently way-marked. Walks described on the basic hiking maps available from the Juego de Bolas and La Laguna Grande visitor centres correspond to park way-marking.
Several popular walks begin at La Laguna Grande, at El Contadero (a car park 3km southeast of La Laguna Grande), at Pajarito (the GM2–CV13 junction/bus stop, 4km southeast of La Laguna Grande) and at various other points along the GM2.
A highlight is the ascent to the Alto de Garajonay, the island's tallest peak at 1487m; you can hike here from Pajarito (1km, around 30 minutes one way), from El Contadero (2km, around 30 minutes one way) or from La Laguna Grande (5.5km, two hours one way), though this last trail runs through largely fire-damaged areas. From the Alto, cloud permitting, you'll enjoy jaw-dropping, 360° views around the island and perhaps even spot Tenerife, La Palma and El Hierro. You can follow any of the three paths to descend, including returning to La Laguna Grande via El Contadero (so you aren't backtracking).
From El Contadero, a signposted trail leads northeast down through a beautiful valley forest to the hamlet of El Cedro (5.6km, 2¼ hours), via the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Lourdes; from El Cedro, it’s possible to continue downhill to Hermigua (3km, two hours), or you could return to Pajarito via the Mirador de Tajaqué (around 7km, three hours). The Pajarito–Alto de Garajonay–El Cedro–Pajarito loop (16km, around six hours) is known as the Gran Ruta Circular Garajonay, with around 680m metres elevation loss followed by 600m elevation gain and part of the route along a sealed forest road.
One of La Gomera's standout walks combines the climb from Pajarito to the Alto de Garajonay with the descent down through El Contadero and El Cedro to Hermigua; it's a challenging 10.5km, four- to five-hour hike, and is popular in the upwards direction too.
The oldest parts of the laurisilva forest lie towards the western end of the park, where there are several good walks including the 2.2km, one-hour (return) Raso de la Bruma hike, which meanders through misty, moss-adorned fairytale-like woodlands and can be linked up with other routes.
Finally, the GR131 traverses the southern and western reaches of the park on its cross-island journey from San Sebastián to Vallehermoso.
The park authorities offer free three-hour, Spanish-language guided walks on Friday year-round and on Wednesday July to September, starting from La Laguna Grande; book ahead online.