With mountains, glaciers, lakes and volcanoes, Chile is a hiker’s dream destination.
It has over 200 beautiful trails to explore, as well as a number of long-distance treks. So, no matter what sort of hiking expedition you’re looking for, this diverse country has got you covered.
With the Andes mountains, Atacama Desert and Patagonian fjords and glaciers, hiking in Chile is an unforgettable experience.
Here are our top hiking trails in Chile that are a must for any hiking or outdoor enthusiast.
Best Hikes in Chile
1. The W Trek
Chile’s most famous and most popular trek is the W Trek in Torres Del Paine. While not as intense as the Full Circuit, this trek is quite strenuous and requires a good level of fitness. This and most of Patagonia's trails can be hiked without a tour.
The 44 mile (71 kilometer) trail takes 5 days to complete and offers hikers the opportunity to see Patagonia’s pure natural beauty. You can expect to see the impressive Paine Grande spires, the unusual Los Cuernos rock formations and the enormous Grey Glacier.
There are also multiple turquoise glacial lakes to see, which reflect the surrounding mountains and create postcard-worthy scenes. The Torres del Paine W Trek is an absolute must for any avid hiker as the scenery is simply breathtaking and worth every tough step.
Quick Tip: Crowds of hikers travel to Chile in the summer trekking season to hike the W Trek. If you enjoy a quieter and more isolated trekking experience, make sure you plan your trip around the busiest months (January and February).
2. San Francisco Glacier
Located just outside of Santiago is the San Francisco Glacier Trek (also sometimes referred to as the El Morado Glacier Trek). This scenic day hike in El Morado National Parks leads you into the Cajon del Maipo - a deep gorge surrounded by beautiful Andean mountains.
The trail is about 9 miles (16 kilometers) long and leads you to the picturesque San Francisco Glacier.
This trek is often confused with the El Morado Glacier Trek, which takes you to a more hidden, and equally spectacular, glacier in the reserve - the El Morado Glacier. Finding this lesser-known spot is definitely worth the confusion and trouble!
3. Cochamó Valley Trek
Featuring cascading waterfalls and striking granite domes, Cochamó Valley has been compared to the famous Yosemite National Park. If you want to explore this beautiful valley, you’ll need to follow an old 6.2-mile (10 kilometer) route to the La Junta outpost.
There are campsites and refugios at La Junta where you can stay and spend a few days exploring all the nooks and crannies of the valley. There are many different hiking trails to choose from and you can even climb up some of the granite domes for epic views of the surrounding land.
4. Valle de la Luna
The Valle de la Luna, or “Moon Valley”, is one of the most awe-inspiring places in Chile. This natural valley looks like something out of this world and got its name from its moon-like terrain.
Located in the Atacama Desert, Vallle de la Luna has several different hiking trails that showcase its unique and other-worldly formations.
The trails here aren’t well marked so booking with a guide is highly recommended. Many of the organized hikes begin in the late afternoon / early evening so that you can get to Valle de la Luna in time to enjoy the most exquisite sunset you’ll ever see.
5. Radal Siete Tazas National Park
If you’re a beginner hiker or are traveling with your family, then the Radal Siete Tazas National Park is the ideal spot for you. There are numerous gentle hiking routes around this park that showcase the seven magical waterfalls and their ‘tea cups’.
The Siete Tazas (Seven Teacups) are a unique natural wonder where the Claro de Molina river has carved beautiful rock pools out of the basalt rock so it looks as if each waterfall has their own ‘cup’.
Radal Siete Tazas National Park is covered in lush green forest and has multiple viewpoints from where hikers can enjoy gazing at the tranquil waterfalls and crystal rock pools.
6. Cerro Castillo Circuit
The Cerro Castillo Circuit is a four day trek through the beautiful Cerro Castillo Nature Reserve. The trail is 32.5 miles (53 kilometers) long and rivals the W Trek. Along this circuit you will see stunning glaciers, indigenous forests, snow-capped mountain peaks, crystal blue lakes, and some very uniquely shaped mountains.
If you’re backpacking in Patagonia and looking to completely immerse yourself in nature, then this remote trek is ideal. There are different route options for this circuit so you can choose to only hike for one day if four is a bit much for you or you don’t have enough time.
The Cerro Castillo Circuit is moderately difficult as there are two steep sections that are quite tough, as well as some stream crossings and loose scree to scramble over. However, the breathtaking scenery you’ll see along this trail is well worth the effort.
7. Villarrica Volcano
For more thrill-seeking hikers, the Villarrica Volcano hike takes you up one of Chile’s most active volcanoes! While this hike doesn’t require any mountaineering experience, you will need to be accompanied by a licensed guide.
You guide will provide you with a helmet, ice axes, crampons and all other necessary climbing gear. You’ll then be ready to embark on your journey up to the snowy summit of the Villarrica Volcano.
The hike takes most of the day to complete and offers stunning views of the surrounding volcanoes and Chilean landscape. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the lake of lava boiling at the bottom of the volcano’s crater. This is one of the few places on Earth where you can see such a sight!
8. Kari Gorge
Located in a salt mountain range in the Atacama Desert is Kari Gorge. Similar to the Valle de la Luna, this trek offers hikers a journey to another world with unique terrain and bizarre natural formations.
The trail is only about 5 kilometers long and takes 2 hours, but there are some very steep sections. You’ll trek through the naturally formed caves and see where ancient rivers cut and carved the rock into how it looks today.
Best Time to Go Hiking in Chile
The best time to go hiking in Chile is during summer (December to March). This is when the days are pleasant, warm and light until about 9 pm.
Spring (September to November) and Autumn (March to May) bring cool temperatures along with fewer crowds. So if you want a more isolated hiking experience then these are the perfect months to go. However, April and September can be very rainy so make sure you’re prepared for wet weather and pack a good rain jacket.
Winter (June to August) is very cold and the days are quite short so hiking opportunities are more limited. It also snows a lot on the mountains in winter. Many hiking attractions close during the winter so avoid planning your trip during these months.
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