SANTIAGO – The weather is warming up…really warming up. Santiago is full of beautiful places to hike for all ages and expertise. Here is a small guide to some of the most popular spots in the city.
As we await summer, spring showers us in sun and longer days. With cooler mornings, the weather is just right for some hiking during the weekends, and even weekday afternoons when the sun is coming down.
One of the most central hills in the city, it is part of the great Metropolitan Park. The park offer a myriad of activities, including a zoo, outdoor gym, a cable car, and even a Japanese garden. And for those who like hiking, it is a great place for a workout. The hill has a height of 800m that can be done by bicycle, jogging or a calm walk. At the top awaits a large Virgin Mary statue, some small cafes and a wonderful view of the city.
Several entrances facilitate access to the park. A common route starts at Pio Nono 450, and runs through the botanic garden, Japanese garden, the Virgin and then down toward Pedro de Valdivia Norte. The walk is filled with the smell of the eucalyptus, aromos and peumos along the path. At the top you can enjoy a refreshing mote con huesillo!
A 14km route for the that unites seven neighborhoods of Santiago is nearly finished. According to La Tercera, the route will connect Vitacura, Providencia, Huechuraba, and Recoleta. For now, 8km are already finished and connected, including a path with a waterfall. “There is a 360º view of the city, one can see a more dense sector of Providencia and later observe a less populated area of Recoleta, they are two very different looks of Santiago.” The paths that are connected are open to the public, and anyone can access them on foot or on bike!
This hill is one of the most popular with the locals. It offers a medium difficulty for hiking with 1,600m in height. The easiest entrance is Lo Curro, as it has access to public transit. Among the most popular route is Agua de Palo which takes about an hour and a half to complete.
The entrance is through a dirt road next to a small parking lot at the top of the access for cars. The first half hour of the hike is shared with the path to Manquehuito, which is a smaller version of this hill. It then separates and goes straight to the summit.
According to Andes Handbook, “This part has a steep slope, sometimes coming close to crawling over the rocks, although they are easy, they make the ascent fun.” Keep in mind that there is no water during the walk, so don’t forget to bring yours!
Located in Lo Barnechea, the Pochoco hill stands at a tall 1,800m. This route can only be accessed by car, since it is far off the main roads. An option to take a taxi from Plaza San Enrique exists for those who don’t have a car.
Similar to Cerro Manquehue, it offers an easy to medium hike, with only the last third being more steep. A little more than halfway through, a checkpoint appears. The characteristic rock drawing of a smiley face can be found representing the false summit of the hill. Continuing a path well signaled by red arrows, it takes 10 more minutes to get to the real summit. With luck, hikers can see condors and their nests.
Bordering La Pirámide, is Cerro El Carbón. The route starts at the roundabout right outside Saint George School. The path begins next to a fence and the highway. The hike is considered easy by the locals, and it can be done in a short time. There are plenty of lookout points that give a full look out over the city and Huechuraba. Also, this route eventually connects to Cerro Manquehue for those who would like to keep going.
This park is set right between Las Condes and La Reina. The entrance is through Alvaro Casanova and it is a very light non-steep hike. There are three different trekking routes, one that actually can be done barefoot! The routes are longer than other hills in Santiago, but they have a much lower difficulty.
At the end of the longer route (18km) a waterfall presents itself to hikers. It is a great place to go as a family and enjoy a day at a park different from others around the city. An organic garden is open to visits, and educational signs can be seen around the park.
The entrance fee is CLP$3,000 for adults and CLP$2,000 for kids. Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed.
Cerro La Cruz
Although not the best hill to start a trekking adventure, La Cruz hill stands at 2,500m over Santiago. The entrance is through Parque Mahuida in La Reina and you must sign in with the park guard before starting the hike. The route is well signaled and easy to follow.
According to DeTrekking.cl, the hardest part are the first 2,000m, until a lookout is reached named mirador del filo. For those who still have the energy to keep going, it is possible to get to the top of the hill. The trail continues onto a rocky and slightly intimidating path, but it is well signaled to show the easiest way up.
At a constant rhythm, the hike up should take around five hours, and three hours on the way down. It is important to bring plenty of water and sunblock for protection, as well as caloric food to replenish energy.
Alto del Naranjo
It can be seen toward the east from any point in Santiago. Alto el Naranjo is part of the San Carlos de Apoquindo Natural Park. Although the park has other routes, Alto el Naranjo is one of the most popular among casual hikers, due to its low intensity.
Entrance is through Nilhue Park, on the road to Farellones, or it can be accessed through San Carlos de Apoquindo. Trekking will take around four to five hours at a normal pace. From this hill, anyone can access other hills open for hiking such as Cerro las Vizcachas and Cerro Provincia.
At the top of the hill, a tree named Quillay can be found. According to Wikiexplora, the tree has cleaning properties. “The liquid that flows inside is called Saponina, it serves as a detergent for cleaning anything from hair, hands, etc.”
Spring and Summer Plans
As winter finally says its goodbyes, the city starts uncovering all its outdoor activities. Hiking is a favorite among Santiaguinos and expats during this time of year. There are plenty of options for all types of hikers and families looking to explore a different side of the city. Above is just a small list of places Santiago offers for those who want to enjoy a sunny day, morning or afternoon. Sometimes taking a breather from the big city can be the best therapy from a week full of work!
Maria Paz Rodriguez Zaninovic. Born in Santiago, Chile and moved to the US at a young age. Here she began noticing the differences between societies and her curiosity grew about how people think, how countries work, and how culture affects lifestyles around the world. Although professionally a dentist, her passion for writting and photography has always been a part of her everyday life.