Hiking Parque Huerquehue in southern Chile

With dozens of trails through native forests, between lakes, and up steep slopes this national park outside of Pucón is a trekker’s dream.

The forests around Pucón offer exciting opportunities for lovers of the outdoors. In previous articles we’ve told you about hiking and other activities in this region. Today we’ll offer you details about another superb day-trek outside Pucón through the Parque Nacional Huerquehue.

With 29,000 acres (12,000 hectares) of luscious vegetation, craggy slopes, and emerald lakes, the untouched natural habitats of Parque Huerquehue are ideal for losing yourself. The park’s wide range in altitude from 2,296 to 6,500 feet above sea level (720 to 2,000 meters) explains its broad range of flora and fauna. Established hiking trails provide 30 minute circuits to multi-day treks and vary in difficulty level. This is Chile hiked the Sendero Los Lagos, a 12 km jaunt whose steep pitch on the way up offers a sweet payoff once you’ve reached the summit.

The trail begins along a dirt road through a mossy clearing, past rustic log cabins and flocks of sheep. Entering the trailhead the path begins a gentle climb and weaves through native forests and alongside streams and waterfalls. After about two hours, gear up for a steep climb along a series of snakelike switchbacks.

After a tough climb the trail finally reaches its summit. You’ll find yourself on a wide wooded plateau dotted with a string of lakes and decorated with Chile’s native Araucanía pine trees. Here a level trail encircles the area, ideal for condor gazing, dipping your toes into the icy lagoons, or a much-deserved picnic lunch.

Getting There

By car, Parque Huerquehue is located east of Pucón about 25 miles (40 kilometers) along Ruta 199, to S-905, and then finally to S-907. Ask for a map from your hotel or from the municipal tourism office (Av. Brasil 115). The drive is scenic and simple.

For those without vehicles the park is easily accessible by bus from downtown Pucón. Buses Caburgua facilitate three trips to and from the park entrance each day. Buses leave from Av. Uruguay 1540 in downtown Pucón at 8:30, 13:00, and 16:00 and return from the park to town at 9:30, 14:10, and 17:10. The hour trip costs US$4 (CLP 2,000) one-way or US$7 (3,600) for round a round trip ticket.

Park entrance fees for foreigners vary depending on the season and go from US$4.00 to $9.00 (CLP 2,000-4,500). Additional charges accrue for campers planning on spending the night. A few scattered cabins for rent around the entrance and multiple campsites within the park are perfect for visitors hoping to spend the night.

For information about other trails in Parque Huerquehue and about other parks in the region visit its blog.