18/07/2024

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17 Amazing day hikes in Patagonia

17 min read
17 Amazing day hikes in Patagonia

There are many incredible hikes in Patagonia. In my opinion, it’s one of the best regions in South America for independent hikers. Every hike offers stunning scenery; glaciers, turquoise lakes, indigenous forest, hidden waterfalls, breathtaking lookout points, and bizarre rock formations. 

Patagonia is an incredible place for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is a vast region that spreads from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, from the snowy peaks of the Andes in the north to the southernmost tip of the continent in the south. 

Two colorful lakes between lush green mountains in Patagonia
The stunning scenery is one of the reasons we loved doing hikes in Patagonia

We spent two months exploring National parks in Patagonia, mostly on the Carretera Austral. In these months we did many hikes, camped in several parks including Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Park, and saw some incredible places. We enjoyed Patagonia a lot and are planning to go back and explore more of this fantastic region. 

Areas with the best hikes in Patagonia

  • Bariloche, Argentina. A beautiful town in Northern Patagonia with many outdoor activities. It’s a popular place to come for skiing in winter.
  • Carretera Austral, Chile. The famous southern road extends for 1300 km from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins. It’s the ultimate area for adventure and hiking lovers.
  • El Chaltén, Argentina. The town is often called the hiking capital of Argentina. There are multiple hikes in the area. It’s a popular place for rock climbing.
  • Torres del Paine, Chile. One of the most famous National Parks in South America. Torres del Paine offers spectacular short hikes and multi-day treks.
  • Ushuaia, Argentina is often called the end of the world. It’s the southernmost town of mainland South America. Cruises to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia.

Explore Patagonia with a tour

You can join one of the adventure tours to explore the incredible Patagonia region. Joining a tour is obviously more expensive but at the same time is easier. You don’t have to plan, book, and arrange anything. Joining a group might be a good option for a solo traveler.

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Best hikes in Patagonia (Argentina side)

Cerro Llao Llao hike, Bariloche

  • Distance – 15 km/9,3 mi loop
  • Required time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy/medium
  • Starting/finishing point – Circuito Chico (Puerto Pañuelo)
  • Accessibility – by bus from Bariloche
  • Admission fee – free

This beautiful hike in the Nahuel Huapi National Park offers incredible views of the mountain range and the lake. It’s a great alternative to the more challenging Refugio Frey hike. There are several look-out points along the route with stunning views e.g. Mirador Lago Moreno, Bahia Llao Llao viewpoint. The first part of the hike is easy through the beautiful forest, along the lake; the second half is a steady ascent to the top of Cerro Llao Llao. It takes about 25 minutes to get to the top. Your effort will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Nahuel Huapi Lake, Moreno Lake, and the mountain range.

Refugio Frey hike, Bariloche

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium, 3-hour ascend to the top of the hill with a subsequent descent.  
  • Starting/finishing point – Villa Catedral car parking
  • Accessibility –  by car, by bus from Bariloche
  • Admission fee – free

It’s one of the not-to-miss hikes in Patagonia. The scenery is fantastic; blue lakes, mountains, and indigenous forest. Along the route, you get amazing views of the area. It can be done over two days if you stay at Refugio Frey, this way you’ll have more time to explore the area and do some hikes around the Refugio.

The hut (Refugio) must be booked in advance in Bariloche, price ARS 9000/US$25 (need your own sleeping bag). As an option, you can bring your own tent and camp there for free. You can buy breakfast (ARS 3800/US$10) and dinner (ARS 5200/US$14) at the Refugio. There are usually many rock climbers in the hut so it’s better to make an advanced booking.

Accommodation in Bariloche

If you’re planning to visit the region check out our post on what to pack for Patagonia. There you can find what gear and clothes to pack for this unforgettable adventure. 

Beautiful mountainous scenery of a hike in Patagonia
The scenery on the Refugio Frey hike in Bariloche, Patagonia

Laguna de Los Tres, El Chalten

  • Distance – 25 km/15,5 miles, return
  • Required time – 8 hours
  • Difficulty level – moderate, easy in the beginning, steep ascend at the end + long distance  
  • Starting/finishing point – El Chalten
  • Accessibility – on foot
  • Admission fee – free

Trekking in El Chalten is one of the best experiences in Argentinian Patagonia and one of the most beautiful places in the region. The park has good infrastructure, beautiful scenery, and several trails suitable for the entire family. One of the best routes in El Chalten is the Laguna de Los Tres hike. Following the trail, you can get very close to the famous Fitz Roy mountain. 

The hike is absolutely breathtaking with evergreen forest, several lakes, rivers, and snow-covered peaks, and the highlight of the route is the fantastic Laguna de Los Tres, a mirror-like lake surrounded by the mountains with a perfect reflection of De Los Tres glacier in its calm waters. Don’t miss another emerald-colored lake – Laguna Sucia on the left-hand side, to see it, you have to walk up the rocky hill. The best time to see Laguna de Los Tres is at sunrise in order to be there in time you have to stay at Rio Blanco, one of the nearest free campsites, and start walking very early in the dark. You can do a guided day hike to Laguna de los Tres and Mount Fitzroy from El Chalten.

It’s possible to do a 4-day guided tour in El Chalten that allows you to see most of the highlights.

Campbell at a mirror-like lagoon on a hike in El Chalten, Patagonia
Campbell at Laguna de Los Tres, one of the most beautiful hikes in Patagonia

Lago Torre hike, El Chalten

  • Distance – 24 km/15 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy, though quite long   
  • Starting/finishing point – El Chalten
  • Accessibility – on foot
  • Admission fee – free

Laguna Torre is another beautiful hiking trail in Patagonia though we were quite unlucky there it was cloudy and rainy so we couldn’t really appreciate its beauty. This trek is easy without hectic climbs or ascends though it is quite long. The scenery is similar to the previous hike; forest, mountains, rivers, valleys, and lakes. There are several lookouts where you can stop for lunch just remember to pack food with there is nothing to buy in the park.

​From El Chalten, you can visit El Calafate, a small town km south. It is known for its spectacular glaciers and lakes.

There are a couple of fantastic long-distance treks in El Chalten including the challenging Huemul Circuit.

Accommodation in El Chalten

There are many great campsites in El Chalten as well as hostels, hotels, and guesthouses. You can find accommodation for any budget.

Laguna Torre hike in El Chalten, Argentina
Lago Torre is one of the easiest hikes in Patagonia

Laguna Esmeralda hike, Ushuaia

  • Distance – 9 km/5,5 miles, return 
  • Required time – 3h30min.
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Starting/finishing point – Valle de Lobos
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus
  • Admission fee – free

An easy and beautiful day hike to the Emerald Lagoon through the Lenga forest, along the river where you can see beavers if you’re lucky or just their dams. The lake is beautiful as you can guess from its name, its water is an emerald color. The lake is squeezed between the mountains, with a hanging glacier on the opposite side. A nice trekking option for the whole family.

This hike can be done as a guided hike from Ushuaia.

Glacier Vinciguerra hike, Ushuaia

  • Distance – 13 km/8 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – moderate
  • Starting/finishing point – Valle de Andorra
  • Accessibility – by car
  • Admission fee – free

Another hike from Ushuaia though this one is a bit more difficult than the previous one. The trail goes through the forest, with some ascends over the rocks, past a couple of beautiful valleys, and ends with the Vinciguerra Glacier. You get really close to the glacier, you can almost touch it. 

If you don’t want to wander alone you can join a guided hiking tour from Ushuaia. 

Tours and activities in Ushuaia

Accommodation in Ushuaia

Ushuaia a small town at the end of the world in Argentina
Ushuaia is a rough region in Argentina with some great hiking routes

Best hikes in Patagonia (Chile side)

Cascadas Trail, Pumalin Park

  • Distance – 6 km/3,7 miles, return
  • Required time – 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy. The walk itself is easy except for the river crossing on the way if it rains a lot you’ll have to get quite wet and the last part – to get to the waterfall you’ll have to climb a ladder.
  • Starting/finishing point – Caleta Gonzalo
  • Accessibility – by ferry from Hornopiren or by car/bus from Chaiten.
  • Admission fee – free

Pumalin Park is a hidden treasure of Chilean Patagonia with some of the best day hikes in the region, established campsites, and stunning scenery. We’d definitely recommend spending a couple of days hiking in Pumalin Park. The Waterfall Trail is a beautiful trail through the indigenous forest with a river crossing in the middle of the hike and some ladder climbing over huge boulders right at the end. The waterfall is truly impressive, it’s quite a big fall surrounded by huge rocks and lush green forest. We hardly saw any people on the trail. It is one of the best hikes for travelers with children.

Alya climbing a ladder to get over a boulder on a hike in Patagonia
Alya climbing a ladder on the Waterfall Trail, one of the easiest hikes in Patagonia

El Ventisquero Trail, Pumalin Park

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy
  • Starting/finishing point – Ventisquero campsite
  • Accessibility – by car, on foot though it’s quite far, about 10 km, from the park entrance and the other two campsites.
  • Admission fee – free

A beautiful hike along the river and through the forest with many birds to spot. It’s not a difficult walk, on a flat surface, with not many people, a very quiet trek, like most of the routes in Pumalin Park. The trail ends at the glacier, it is so close you can almost touch it. We’d recommend taking food with you it’s quite far to walk. There is no place to buy food on the way. Water is not a problem in the park, there are many creeks and streams with clean water.

Accommodation in Chaitén

Chaitén is the nearest town to Pumalín Park. There are several hostels, hotels, campsites, and a couple of shops.

Piedra del Aguila hike, Futaleufú  

  • Distance – 9 km/5,5 miles, return
  • Required time – 3 hours
  • Difficulty level – easy, not very steep ascent to the rock
  • Starting/finishing point – Futaleufú
  • Accessibility – on foot from the town
  • Admission fee – CLP 1000/US$1,5 to go up the rock.

The area around Futaleufu is truly beautiful. You can enjoy the stunning scenery while doing one of the many outdoor activities, e.g. hiking and rafting.  Piedra del Aguila is quite an easy hike from the town, but don’t underestimate it, the scenery here is amazing. From the beginning of the walk, once you’re out of the town, till the viewpoint – Piedra del Aguila (Eagle’s Rock) you can enjoy beautiful views of the valley of the Espolon River. An enjoyable short hike with great views for taking photos.  

it’s quite a big fall surrounded by huge rocks and lush green forest. We hardly saw any people on the trail.

If you like hiking and camping you might enjoy spending more time in the wilderness doing one of the multi-day treks in Patagonia. Just like day hikes, there are many amazing longer routes in the region with fantastic scenery.

Futaleufu one of the best areas in Chile for day hikes
A typical scenery that you see hiking around Futaleufú

Garganta del Diablo hike, Futaleufú

  • Distance – 20 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – Futaleufu
  • Accessibility – on foot from the town
  • Admission fee – free

If you like big waterfalls and fast rivers with rapids this hike is definitely for you. The English name of the trek is “The Devil’s Throat”, it was named after a waterfall at the end of the trail. The route goes along the Espolon River until it reaches the waterfall, where it finishes. The water from Espolon Lake goes through a narrow passage in the rocks with some huge boulders sticking out till it reaches the river. The waterfall is about 60 m high, and it’s very loud and powerful. Take lunch or at least a snack with you, there is no place to buy anything till you’re back in town.

Accommodation in Futaleufú

Mirador Ventisquero Colgante Trail, Queulat National park

  • Distance – 7 km/4,3 miles, return
  • Required time – 2h30min.
  • Difficulty level – medium, a steep ascent to the viewpoint  
  • Starting/finishing point – Queulat park entrance
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus from Puyuhuapi
  • Admission fee – CLP 8400/US$10.

Queulat National Park offers incredible scenery and several hiking trails; most of them are short and easy. The Ventisquero Colgante was the first glacier we saw in Patagonia and it was quite impressive. The name in English means “hanging glacier” – it hangs from the top of mountains down to the river and melting ice drops into the river like a waterfall. The trail goes through the beautiful lush green forest with small waterfalls and creeks, across turquoise rivers and lakes. This day hike is suitable for travelers with children.

After the hike, you can do a short detour and go down to the lake to see the glacier again. It’s possible to do a boat tour to the glacier. The park is more touristy compared to Pumalin, mainly local tourists. You can stay in the park; either camping at the entrance or staying in cabins.

Accommodation in Puyuhuapi

Puyuhuapi is the closest town to the National Park. It’s a bit bigger than Chaitén.

Scenery on the Mirador Ventisquero Colgante day hike in Patagonia
Mirador Ventisquero Colgante in Queulat National Park, one of the nicest day hikes in Patagonia

Mirador Cerro Castillo hike, Cerro Castillo National Park

  • Distance – 12 km/7,4 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium/difficult, long and steep (900 m) ascend to the lake with subsequent descent back to the village.
  • Starting/finishing point – Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Accessibility – by car/bus from Coyhaique
  • Admission fee – CLP 20 000/US$23

This difficult hike starts at Villa Cerro Castillo, climbs all the way up, and finishes at Laguna Cerro Castillo – a small though beautiful turquoise lake formed by melting water from Cerro Castillo glacier. The scenery from the viewpoint is truly impressive; a beautiful lake, a hanging glacier, and mountains in the background. If you look in the opposite direction you’ll see the village, the valley, and the Carretera Austral. 

Take a snack and water on the hike there will be no water on the way till you reach the lake. You can visit this place as part of a multi-day hike in Cerro Castillo Natural Reserve.

Accommodation in Coyhaique

You can stay in Villa Cerro Castillo but it’s a very small place. If you want to be closer to shops, restaurants, and gear rental places Coyhaique is a better option.

A view of the Cerro Castillo Lake and Glacier at the end of the hike
Cerro Castillo Glacier and Lake, the highlight of the hike

Furioso Trail, Patagonia National Park

  • Distance – 23 km/14 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – medium
  • Starting/finishing point – first bridge over the Chacabuco River
  • Accessibility – by car, hitchhiking though there are very few cars passing by as the trail is located in a more isolated part of the park  
  • Admission fee – free

It’s a long hike in the new Patagonia National Park. The park is known for its untouched nature, glacial lakes, crystal-clear rivers, snow-capped mountains, and challenging passes. The trail goes through more isolated areas, and chances to meet other hikers are even smaller. Half of the time the trail goes along the Chacabuco River across four wooden bridges. At the end of the trail, you can enjoy a nice view of Cerro Cristine. It’s a full-day hike so take food and snacks with you.

Accommodation in Cochrane 

A typical scenery in southern Patagonia
Scenery on the way to Villa O’Higgins, Chile

Glacier Tigre hike, Villa O’Higgins

  • Distance – 28 km/17,3 miles, return
  • Required time – 2 days
  • Difficulty level – medium/difficult, the route is not well marked, a long steep ascent and descent, 1000 m
  • Starting/finishing point – 24 km north of Villa O’Higgins
  • Accessibility – by car, hitchhiking
  • Admission fee – free
  • Accommodation options – camping

Villa O’Higgins and the hikes in the area are for real adventurers and nature lovers. It’s a wild region at the end of the Carretera Austral with a lot to discover and explore. The Glacier Tigre hike takes you first through a beautiful evergreen forest, then as you gain altitude trees are getting smaller, and you start seeing bushes and moss. The way to the top is a steep ascend for 14 km, once there you’ll be rewarded with incredible views over the area; Rio Colorado, El Tigre glacier, Laguna Turquesa, and other rivers, lakes, and mountains. It’s possible to do this hike alone, but we’d recommend hiring a local guide it’s a very remote area and the trail is not well marked.

Accommodation in Villa O’Higgins

| Puesto Canogas Hostal | Posada Paso Mayer |

Mirador Las Torres, Torres del Paine

  • Distance – 19 km/12 miles, return
  • Required time – 6-7 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult
  • Starting/finishing point – Hotel Las Torres, you can stay closer – at Refugio Chileno and start the walk from there.
  • Accessibility – by car, by bus, on foot
  • Admission fee – US$35 if you stay inside the park for less than 3 days

This National Park was one of our favorite places in Patagonia. There are several easy hikes in Torres del Paine and two long-distance routes; the W trek and the O circuit. You can spend weeks in the park and still won’t have time to see and do everything here. Backpacking in Torres del Paine one can see the more beautiful scenery in the region.

Las Torres – the famous “Towers” is probably the main and the most recognizable sight in Torres del Paine and in Patagonia. It’s definitely not to miss when visiting the park. The hike up to Las Torres is one of the most popular hikes in the park. It’s quite challenging due to elevation gain. The scenery on the way and the view of Las Torres and the lake are 100% rewarding.

If you’re planning to do trekking in the park find out when is the best time to visit Torres del Paine. If you visit it during the high season it’s recommended to book accommodation inside the park in advance.

Laguna and Mirador Los Torres in Patagonia
Mirador Las Torres is one of the best hikes in Patagonia

Glacier Grey hike, Torres del Paine

  • Distance – 10 km/6 miles, return
  • Required time – 4 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult, long steep ascent to the viewpoint
  • Starting/finishing point – Refugio Grey
  • Accessibility – by boat from Hotel Lago Grey
  • Admission fee – US$35

Grey Glacier is another remarkable landmark in Torres del Paine. This huge and impressive glacier in the west part of the park is a part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. There are several viewpoints from where you can appreciate it, but to be able to estimate its real size you must hike up to the second suspension bridge from where you’ll be able to see the entire glacier. Two suspension bridges on the way make the walk even more exciting. In fact, if you have time you can continue walking along the glacier towards Paso campsite just remember that you’ll have to go all the way back.

A view of the Grey Glaier from the lookout point at the end of the hike in Torres del Paine
Grey Glacier is one of the most spectacular day hikes in Patagonia

Mirador Británico hike, Torres del Paine

  • Distance – 26 km/16 miles, return
  • Required time – 8 hours
  • Difficulty level – difficult, long and steep ascent to the viewpoint, recommended attempting only in good weather  
  • Starting/finishing point – Refugio Paine Grande
  • Accessibility – by boat from Pudeto
  • Admission fee – US$35

The hike is quite tough, especially the second part from Mirador Francés – a very steep and long ascent. It’s highly recommended to start in the early morning in order to have enough time to complete it. The best is to walk first to Mirador Frances (you get quite nice views from there as well) and if the weather is good, continue to the Britanico if not rather turn around if it’s overcast and rainy you won’t be able to see anything from the top. If you’re lucky with the weather you’ll get a stunning view from the Mirador over the whole area, it’s probably one of the best viewpoints in the park. Take food with there is no place to buy anything on the way.

Accommodation in Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales is the closest to Torres del Paine town. It has many campsites, hostels, hotels, shops, and gear rental places. The town is a perfect base for hikers.

You can visit Torres del Paine from Punta Arenas. There are buses that connect both towns and the park. 

A turquoise lake and rocky mountains in southern Patagonia
A spectacular view on one of the hikes in Patagonia

Patagonia hiking tips

Patagonia is a wild region with numerous hiking trails, some of which are very isolated and can be accessed only on foot – make sure you understand what you’re doing and know all the risks.

Weather conditions in Patagonia are unpredictable, especially in the extreme south of the region. Even in summer, you can get snow and stormy winds so make sure you have the right gear.

Patagonia is famous for strong winds, especially in summer (December and January). Don’t make open fires, use a camping stove instead. High winds make it difficult to control fires in which case they can cause massive damage to the area.  

Make sure you have the right camping gear (wind and waterproof) and all the necessary stuff for camping in the wild – there are some gear shops in bigger Patagonian towns but everything gets very expensive here so rather bring your own stuff.

Before you go on a hike make sure you’ll have no problem getting back after completing the hike. If there is no public transport then arrange a private shuttle. Hitchhiking does work well in this part of the world but mostly on the main roads. Some secondary roads have barely any cars.

As for rain chances of it are pretty equal throughout the year though in summer months you can expect more rain, in winter it might snow. Out of the summer months, February is the best for hiking in Patagonia – it’s warm, not much rain and it’s the least windy month as well. Though if you’re going to popular parks like Torres del Paine or El Chalten expect to see many people there, February is the busiest month in Patagonia.

Recommended books and guidebooks

In the last couple of years, there have been many changes in Patagonia (new National parks, etc.) make sure to buy an updated guidebook.

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