I have a thing for climbing high mountains. Mount Teide is Spain’s highest mountain at 3,718 meters (or roughly 12,200 feet). I couldn’t visit Tenerife without climbing to the summit.
Note: Mulhacén is the highest mountain in continental Spain.
Below is a quick guide on hiking Mount Teide’s Montaña Blanca track.
Things to Consider when Hiking Mount Teide
When to Hike: Best times to hike is spring through autumn as the winter you’ll find snow at higher elevations. Leaving early in the morning will help beat the average warm temperatures.
Permits: A permit is required for the last 163 meters (535 feet) from the top of the cable car. Reservations should be made ahead of time (roughly a month before) and are limited to 200 permits a day plus 50 for the people staying at the Altavista del Teide Refuge.
Layers: Don’t forget to pack the layers. It can be several degrees cooler than at sea level as you gain elevation and become more exposed to the wind and sun. Fortunately it was windy when we hiked it, which kept us cool on the uphill and our wind layers kep us warm towards the top and on the descent.
The Teide violet is only visible for three weeks in the spring, and we got a glimpse of this rare alpine flower. All the more reason to stay on trail to protect the sensitive vegetation.
Leave No Trace: Don’t forget to practice leave-no-trace principles. I saw toilet paper off the trail. If you have to use the bathroom on trail, bring a bag to dispose of your waste including snack and food wrappers.
The Trail – Hiking the Montaña Blanca Track
Park at the Montaña Blanca trailhead off the road. It fits eight to ten cars with options to park off the road if the parking lot is full.
Start hiking a wide trail, which is roughly the size of a one-lane road. As you’re hiking, pass large black rocks that look out of place in the tan gravel landscape. The accretion balls, also called Teide Eggs, were formed after a volcanic eruption and are created when lava congeals together and starts to descend faster than the flowing lava. It begins to solidify and grows along the way, similar to a snowball rolling down a mountain.
Slowly making my way up the switchbacks. Notice the large Teide Eggs below in the distance.
After about 4.5 km (or 3 miles) into the hike, the trail starts to switchback up to the Altavista del Teide Refuge. Pass a patch of green vegetation, which is a nice change from the dust and rock most of the trail navigates. As you climb, don’t forget to look behind you every once and awhile as you distance yourself from the tropical coast. The higher you climb, the more porous rocks show traces of volcanic activity. Without vegetation, it feels like you’re walking on Mars with black and dark red around you.
Continue to switchback up to the refuge and consider taking a break here. There are toilets to use if needed. After the refuge, it is about another hour or two of elevation gain before reaching the top. You’ll know you’re close as you start to see information plaques with ropes blocking hikers for going off trail. You’ll also see the Upper Station of the El Teleférico del Teide. Head towards the station and to the gate. Those without permits won’t be able to continue from here.
The last 163 meters (or 535 feet) passes sulfur vents. Plug your nose and continue to climb. The trail to the top protects the peak and is quite wide with “natural” rock benches if you need a break. The air is thin and regulating a steady breath and slow pace helps.
Hike Mount Teide in a day.
Hike it in a day as it is “only” 12 miles round trip or 6 miles from the top. Check out my Mt. Teide hiking stats for reference. For more beta, check out SummitPost. Don’t forget your headlamps in case the hike takes longer than expected.
Don’t want to do it in one day? – Stay at the Refuge.
Consider making a reservation and sleep on the mountain at the Altavista del Teide Refuge. Check-in and out times are early and late respectively as most stay to do a sunrise hike to the top and include permits with the stay.
Don’t have time to hike? – Ride the Teleférico.
Consider reserving a ride Teide’s gondola, which does cost money but will save you time. The Teleférico del Teide has two stations: the lower one at 2,356 meters and the upper one at 3,555 meters (only 163 meters from the top). The last 163 meters require a permit which tend to sell out fast (see above). Allot yourself time as queues can form at the top to ride back down. The last option is to hire a guided service.
Please comment below with any tips or recommendations for improving this guide.