“A great cross-country route over volcanic rock on the side of el Teide volcano on the Spanish island of Tenerife.”
— Lost Justpastnowhere
Tenerife is a Spanish territory off the west coast of Africa featuring year-round riding. Relatively young pine forests grow seemingly from the black lava rock resulting from an eruptions in 1706, 1798, and 1909. In other areas there is almost no vegetation and the landscape looks more like a moonscape.
From this ride, you can see the neighboring islands of la Palma and la Gomera as well as the summit of the Mount Tiede Volcano itself. In addition to the stunning scenery, this ride features plenty of climbing and some challenging singletrack in the access trail to the main loop. If you ride it alone, you'll have several hours of solitude.
Need to Know
Tenerife is a year-round riding destination and also offers excellent beaches. There are a number of guiding services available which also offer bike rental. There is no VAT (sales tax) in Tenerife.
The black lava rock can be hot. Bring plenty of water and don't count on water at the Arenas Negras recreational area.
There are very few signs and no trail markers. This loop intersects with a lot of other roads and trails, so a GPX track or the MTB Project MTB Project mobile app
The ride starts in the small town of Arguayo where there is some parking at the football (soccer for Americans) stadium. After a short ride on the paved TF-375, the very difficult TF-375 Cutoff
singletrack climb begins on crushed black lava rock (sorry, I'm not a geologist). Expect to walk at least part of the way. However, the views of the coast and neighboring islands of la Palma and la Gomera from this singletrack are particularly stunning.
As an alternative if you want to skip this section, there is also parking off of the TF-373 at the northeast corner of the loop near the village of la Montañeta.
Once you reach the main loop after the first 1.1 miles, the riding is much less technical and you have only the high altitude and climbs to contend with. Turn left onto the main loop which is predominantly forest road. This road continues uphill for several miles winding in and out of the forest. Shortly after leaving the first section of forest at around mile 2.5 and the junction with the Pista Canal de Vergara
, you'll have your first glimpse of the Mount Tiede summit.
The Pista Canal de Vergara
parallels an aqueduct which is used to collect water from various sources since water on the island is scarce. At mile three, you'll reach a pine forest and leave the aqueduct onto the Chinyero Lava Flow
trail which includes a portion of singletrack. When you exit the forest around mile 4.7, you'll have another view of Mt Tiede; also the trail levels off and eventually you begin a well-earned 1000 ft descent down to the small village of San José de los Llanos (St. John of the Plains).
As you leave this forest, the surface also switches to black lava rock, but there are lush green pine trees growing seemingly from the finely ground lava rock. This is a particularly beautiful stretch, especially if the spring wildflowers are in bloom to give highlights of yellow to contrast with the starkness of the black lava and the lush green pine trees. The lava flows are from an eruption of the el Chinyero volcano that occurred in 1706 which heavily damaged the town of Garachino and its harbor.
When you reach San Jose de los Llanos, turn right onto TF-373. After about two miles at the sign, turn right onto the Arenas Negras (Black Sands)
trail toward the Arenas Negras recreational area. This begins a 600 m (2000 ft) climb continuing into the Pista Montaña Cascajo (Gravel Mountain Trail)
. The recreational area is just before the halfway point in the climbing and has a small park with a picnic area and toilets. Most of the climb is within the forest which offers some protection from the sun. As you near the top, the trees become sparser and the lava rocks become larger. At the top the landscape becomes more of a moonscape comprised of large lava rock boulders and almost no trees.
From the top of the climb at about mile 19, it is mostly downhill for the next 10 miles back to the starting point. At the end of the Pista Montaña Cascajo (Gravel Mountain Trail)
, you join the main TF-38 road for about three miles before turning right onto The Pines
doubletrack. Again, this section passes through the forest, so there is some protection from the sun. At 26.5 miles, you'll reach the turn back to the TF-375 Cutoff
singletrack which takes you to the starting point in Arguayo.
History & Background
This ride travels through the area of several "recent" eruptions. The first one in 1706 from Montaña Negra (Black Mountain) was the most destructive. It destroyed Garachico on the north side of the island which was the only port at the time as well as several small villages.
Another eruption in 1798 created massive lava flows that form the moonscape visible in the Pista Montaña Cascajo (Gravel Mountain Trail)
. The most recent of these eruptions in 1909 from el Chinyero stopped just short of the towns of Las Manchas and San José de los llanos (St. Joseph of the Plains).
The results of this eruption are visible on the Chinyero Lava Flow
trail. The main el Teide caldera has not erupted in recorded history, but it is literally the reason you are here. The entire island is volcanic in origin similar to the islands of Hawaii. El Teide would be the third highest mountain in the world if you count the portion below the sea, after Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in Hawaii.