About Cascada de Nocedo (Cascada de Valdecesar or Cola de Caballo)
The Cascada de Nocedo at first glance seemed like a pretty ordinary waterfall. However, when we paid more attention to its somewhat tight surroundings within a small chasm, we realized that there was also a natural bridge right above it! That’s right, this was one of those rare waterfalls where we were also able to combine it with a natural bridge (or natural arch) sighting! Mercifully, the Arroyo Valdecésar (the creek responsible for the falls so it’s sometimes called Cascada de Valdecésar) didn’t have such a forceful flow within these tight quarters that the view of the waterfall itself wasn’t a misty mess. This contrasted with a similarly-situated waterfall at the Cascate del Varone near Riva del Garda, Italy, where that waterfall threatened to drench and destroy our electronics.
Visiting this waterfall was very easy. From the trailhead (see directions below), we followed a relatively short (maybe 100m or so) footpath crossing over a couple of bridges and being towered over by some tall cliffs. Towards the end of the trail, there was a catwalk entering the chasm, where on the final turn, we were face-to-face with the somewhat horsetail shape of Cascada de Nocedo (I’ve also seen this falls called Cola de Caballo or horse’s tail). Naturally, the closer to the end of the catwalk I went, the mistier and more difficult it was to take a photo or a movie. And given how dark it was in this little chasm, this might be a situation where a long exposure photo or a high ISO would be necessary.
The natural bridge was practically directly above the waterfall and mini-chasm. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture both the natural bridge and the waterfall in one frame (believe me, I tried). I pretty much either had to capture the falls or just the bridge, but not both. I heard that it’s possible to approach this chasm from the top and get a closer look at the natural bridge, but we didn’t exercise that option so we can’t comment more on it.
In any case, this entire excursion pretty much took us a mere 30 minutes, and that included the picture-taking. We were the only ones at this waterfall so it felt like a nice and intimate experience. In fact, it seemed like a lot of cars just drove past this trailhead as if hardly anyone cared this falls was here! Perhaps the lack of signage had something to do with it. Anyhow, their loss was our gain in the form of having this place to ourselves!
Since we visited Cascada de Nocedo as a stopover on the drive between Caín de Valdeón (the southern end of the Cares Gorge) and the city of León, we’ll describe this driving route though we’ll describe the León route in reverse since I’d imagine that’s more useful to someone wishing to get to the falls from that city.
From Caín de Valdeón, we returned the way we came on the Le-244 (23km), then continued south on the N-625 road for 18km to the town of Riaño where the N-625 and N-621 roads became one. From Riaño, we then took the N-621 road for the next 29km before turning right onto the CI-626 road. We followed the CI-626 road for roughly 26km, then we turned right onto the Le-321 road (we had to go under a railroad bridge before turning to leave the CI-626).
We then followed the Le-321 road north for the next 4km or so to the trailhead for Cascada de Nocedo on the left. Now we didn’t see any signs indicating that the trailhead was for this waterfall. We essentially just started walking once we saw some kind of infrastructure to leave the car (i.e. a tiny pullout that had a stone surface), and fortunately, the walk was short enough to finally figure out that we were indeed in the right place. Overall, this drive took us about 90 minutes or so.
Coming from León, we would go north on the N-630 road for just under 25km to the town of La Robla, then turn right onto the CI-626 road and follow it for the next 20km turning left onto the Le-321 road. Once on the Le-321 road, follow it for the next 4km or so before reaching the trailhead on the left side. Overall, this route took us less than an hour, including some of the city navigating in León (which is always slower than the distances would lead you to believe).
Finally, for some context, León was 185km (under 2 hours drive) west of Burgos, 263km (about 3 hours drive) southeast of Ribadeo, 206km (2 hours drive) north of Salamanca, 337km (over 3 hours drive) southwest of Bilbao, 332km (3.5 hours drive) east of Santiago de Compostela, and 337km (3.5 hours drive) northwest of Madrid.
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