17 Amazing day hikes in Patagonia

17 Amazing day hikes in Patagonia

17 Amazing day hikes in Patagonia

Patagonia is an incredible place for hiking enthusiasts and nature lovers. Patagonia is a massive region it spreads from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Atlantic ocean in the east and from the snowy peaks of the Andes in the north to the southernmost tip of the continent in the south. There are some incredible day hikes of different lengths and difficulty levels. Every hike offers stunning scenery; glaciers, turquoise lakes, indigenous forest, hidden waterfalls, breathtaking lookout points, and bizarre rock formations.

We spent 2 months exploring Patagonia, most of the time traveling the Carretera Austral. In these months we did many day hikes, camped at several National parks, and saw some incredible places. We enjoyed Patagonia so much that we are planning to go back and explore even more of this fantastic region.

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

Main hiking areas in Patagonia

  • Bariloche, Argentina
  • Carretera Austral, Chile
  • El Chalten, Argentina
  • Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Ushuaia, Argentina

There are some good tours that combine the best Patagonia experiences, they offer a great opportunity to see the highlights of the region in a shorter time and hassle-free; no planning, logistic, booking, etc. involved you just enjoy the scenery and the company does all the arrangements for you though it’ll be more expensive than going on your own.

Travel insurance. Hiking like any outdoor activity involves a risk of getting an injury, breaking gear, losing valuables, etc. Even if you’re planning to do only a couple of day hikes in the region it’s still recommended to have travel insurance that will cover you in case something goes wrong. It’s important to choose a reliable company that won’t let you down when you need help. We can recommend our partner World Nomads. It’s a reputable insurance company that insurance travelers from all over the world. They focus on outdoor activities like hiking. Their insurance policy is very flexible it can cover the entire trip or only a part of it (even if it’s only one day). You can buy it online at any time of our trip. Get an instant quote here. Note! Always read carefully the Terms and Conditions of the policy.

Amazing day hikes in Bariloche, Argentina

Cerro Llao Llao hike

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

This beautiful hike in the Nahuel Huapi National Park offers some 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

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

It’s one of the must-do one day hikes in Bariloche. The scenery is fantastic; blue lakes, mountains, indigenous forest. 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 600/US$16. As an option, you can bring a tent and camp there for free.

Accommodation in Bariloche

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

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

Best day hikes on the Carretera Austral, Chile

Waterfall (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

The Pumalin National Park is a hidden treasure of Patagonia with many day hiking trails, 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.

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

Ventisquero Amarillo 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 day hike along the river and through the forest with many birds to spot. It’s not a difficult walk, on a flat surface, not many people, 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 the 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 day 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.  

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, 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 the 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 5000/US$7.

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 mountains down to the river, 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 neares 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 descend back to the village.
  • Starting/finishing point – Villa Cerro Castillo
  • Accessibility – by car/bus from Coyhaique
  • Admission fee – CLP 5000/US$7

The 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, 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 4-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 day hike
Cerro Castillo Glacier and Lake, the highlight of the day 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 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

A long-distance day hike in the new Patagonia National Park. The trail goes through more isolated areas, 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 

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 from 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 Galcier Tigre hike takes you first through a beautiful evergreen forest, then as you gain altitude trees are getting smaller, 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 | Cabañas San Gabriel | Robinson Crusoe Deep Patagonia |

Beautiful hikes in El Chalten, Argentina

There are several tour options that combine hiking in El Chalten and visiting Perito Moreno glacier or hiking in Torres del Paine National park or exploring remote Ushuaia. If you are short on time and want to visit several places in Southern Patagonia doing a tour might be a good option for you.

Laguna de Los Tres

  • 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

Hiking in El Chalten is one of the best experiences in Argentinian Patagonia. The park has good infrastructure, beautiful scenery, several trails suitable for the whole family. One of the great day hikes is Laguna de Los Tres – the closest you can get to the famous Fitz Roy mountain.

The hike is absolutely breathtaking with evergreen forest, several lakes, rivers, snow-covered peaks, and the highlight of the trek 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 color 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, the nearest campsite, and start walking very early in the dark.

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 day hike in El Chalten, Patagonia
Campbell at Laguna de Los Tres, one of the most beautiful day hikes in Patagonia

Lago Torre hike

  • 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

Another beautiful day hike in El Chalten 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.

Accommodation in El Chalten

Best hikes in Torres del Paine, Chile

Mirador Las Torres

  • 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 – CLP 25 600/US$32, the ticket is valid for several days.

This National Park was one of our favorite places in Patagonia. There are dozens of great day hikes in Torres del Paine and two long-distance routes. One can spend weeks in the park and still won’t have time to see and do everything here. Hiking 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 day hike up to Las Torres is quite challenging due to the steep ascent. The scenery on the way and the view of Las Torres and the lake are 100% rewarding. If you want to get Las Torres colored in red by the sunrise you must stay at Refugio Chileno (the closest accommodation option) and start hiking very early morning in order to make it all the way to the top on time.  

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

Glacier Grey hike

  • 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 – CLP 21 000/US$32

Another remarkable landmark in Torres del Paine – huge and impressive is glacier Grey. 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.

There are several tour options from Puerto Natales that offer day visits to Torres del Paine and multi-day tours in the region.

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

  • 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 – CLP 25 600/US$32

The hike is quite tough especially the second part from Mirador Francés – 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.

Best one day hikes in Ushuaia, Argentina

Laguna Esmeralda hike

  • 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

  • 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 day 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.

More tours and activities in Ushuaia

Accommodation in Ushuaia

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

Our tips for hiking in Patagonia

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

It might sound scary but it’s always better to take precautions, we hiked, camped, and hitchhiked in Patagonia for two months and never had any extreme situations except being soaking wet a couple of times.

Patagonia is famous for strong winds especially in summer (December, January), don’t make open fires, use a camping stove instead. Wind makes fires difficult to control in which case it 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 rather arrange a private shuttle. Hitchhiking does work well in Patagonia on the main roads, but on some secondary roads that lead to nowhere, only one car might pass per day.

As for rains chances of it are pretty equal throughout the year though in summer months you can expect more rains, in winter it might snow. Out of summer months, February is the best for hiking in Patagonia – it’s warm, not much rain and it’s the least windy months 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 for hiking in Patagonia

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

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