Patagonia, located in the southern regions of Chile and Argentina, is a vast and breathtakingly beautiful wilderness that offers some of the world’s most stunning walking trails.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenging trek or a casual walker seeking scenic routes, walking in Patagonia offers a unique and unforgettable outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and adventure seekers.
Renowned for its breathtaking and untouched landscapes, Patagonia offers a variety of world-class hiking trails. You’ll encounter dramatic mountain ranges, jagged peaks, glaciers, crystal-clear lakes, and pristine forests that provide an unparalleled backdrop for your walks.
Here are the best walking trails that we recommend exploring in Patagonia.
Torres del Paine Circuit, Chile
The Torres del Paine Circuit, located in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia, is one of the most iconic and challenging trekking circuits in the world.
Covering approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers), this legendary circuit offers adventurers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the pristine wilderness of Patagonia, surrounded by towering granite peaks, glaciers, emerald lakes, and diverse wildlife.
Ordinarily, the full Torres del Paine Circuit takes around 7 to 9 days to complete, but there is an abbreviated version, known as the W Trek which can be completed in 4 to 5 days and covers the highlights of the circuit including the three granite towers known as Las Torres and the shores of Lago Grey which provide stunning panoramic views of the massive Grey Glacier, a striking expanse of ice.
The trail also takes you into the heart of the Paine Massif, surrounded by jagged peaks and glaciers and past the Los Cuernos (“Horns”) with their distinctive horn-shaped peaks that rise above Lake Nordenskjöld.
Accommodation options along the circuit include campsites and refugios (mountain huts) managed by CONAF (Chile’s National Parks Service) and private operators. Reservations are recommended, especially during the high season (December to March).
To access Torres del Paine National Park, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee, which varies depending on your nationality and the season.
El Chaltén Trails, Argentina
The southern tip of Argentina boasts some of the most astonishing landscapes in the world. El Chaltén is known as the trekking capital of the country and provides a gateway to some of the most beautiful and accessible hiking trails in South America.
Although the terrain can appear treacherous, El Chaltén’s trails cater to a wide range of hikers, from beginners to experienced trekkers. The town offers excellent infrastructure with accommodations, restaurants, and gear rental shops, making it an ideal base for exploring the stunning Patagonian landscapes.
Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the best walking trails in Patagonia’s El Chaltén:
Laguna de los Tres:
Duration: Approximately 6-8 hours round trip.
Highlights: This trail offers stunning views of Mount Fitz Roy and its reflection in the glacial lake, Laguna de los Tres. It’s one of the most iconic hikes in the region.
Duration: About 2-3 hours one way.
Highlights: The trail leads to Laguna Capri, a serene mountain lake with picturesque views of Fitz Roy. It’s a common camping spot for trekkers.
Loma del Pliegue Tumbado:
Duration: 4-6 hours round trip.
Highlights: This trail offers panoramic views of both Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. It’s a great hike for capturing breathtaking landscapes.
Cerro Torre Viewpoint:
Duration: About 4-5 hours round trip.
Highlights: Hike to a viewpoint where you can see the stunning Cerro Torre, a spire-shaped mountain surrounded by glaciers. The trail passes through beautiful lenga forests.
Piedra del Fraile:
Duration: Approximately 2-3 hours one way.
Highlights: The trail takes you to the picturesque Piedra del Fraile campsite, set against the backdrop of Mount Fitz Roy. It’s a good starting point for longer treks.
Duration: A challenging trek that can take 10-12 hours or more.
Highlights: Laguna Toro is a remote lake with pristine surroundings. It’s a longer and less frequented hike for experienced trekkers.
Laguna del Desierto:
Duration: About 6-8 hours round trip.
Highlights: This trail leads to Laguna del Desierto, a tranquil lake surrounded by forests and mountains. It’s less crowded than some of the other trails.
Cerro Fitz Roy Base Camp (Poincenot):
Duration: Approximately 4-6 hours round trip.
Highlights: Hike to the base of Cerro Fitz Roy, where you’ll find the Poincenot campsite. It’s another starting point for longer treks and offers excellent views.
Duration: A multi-day trek that takes about 4-5 days to complete.
Highlights: The Huemul Circuit is a challenging, off-the-beaten-path trek that offers diverse landscapes, including glaciers, forests, and high mountain passes.
Duration: A boat trip takes you to the Viedma Glacier, where you can explore the ice formations and go ice trekking.
Highlights: Witness the spectacular blue ice and the vastness of the glacier.
Fitz Roy Trek, Argentina
The Fitz Roy Trek in Argentina is a popular hiking route that takes you to the base of one of Patagonia’s most iconic peaks, Cerro Fitz Roy (also known as Mount Fitz Roy). The hike can be completed in a day, typically around 6 to 8 hours round trip.
The difficulty level is considered a moderate to challenging hike. The trail includes steep sections and some rocky terrain, but it’s generally well-marked and suitable for most hikers with reasonable fitness levels.
Highlights to look out for are the iconic Cerro Fitz Roy, the main highlight of the trek overlooking the Laguna de los Tres, a glacial lake located at the base of Fitz Roy. It offers a mirror-like reflection of the mountain, especially in the early morning when the water is calm. The view from here is breathtaking and worth the effort.
Along the way, you’ll pass by Laguna Capri, another beautiful mountain lake. This is a common camping spot for trekkers, and it provides lovely views of Fitz Roy. The trail also passes by the Piedra del Fraile campsite, where you can rest and enjoy views of Fitz Roy. It’s also a starting point for longer treks in the area.
The O Circuit, Chile
The O Circuit in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, is a world-renowned trekking route that offers an extended and more remote exploration of the park’s breathtaking landscapes.
This trek takes you deeper into the heart of Patagonia, allowing you to immerse yourself in pristine wilderness for 7 to 10 days. The circuit covers approximately 70 to 80 miles (110 to 130 kilometers). The exact duration can vary based on hiking speed, weather conditions, and side trips.
Best suited to experienced trekkers, the O Circuit is considered a challenging trek due to its length, elevation changes, and unpredictable weather. Hikers should have prior multi-day trekking experience and be prepared for rugged terrain.
Highlights of the O Circuit include a comprehensive exploration of Torres del Paine National Park, taking you through a wide range of landscapes, including forests, valleys, glaciers, and serene lakes.
Taking in the iconic Los Cuernos, Lake Nordenskjöld, the French Valley, the Grey Glacier and a diverse range of wildlife including guanacos, foxes, condors, and, though rarely spotted, the elusive puma, the O Circuit brings you into close contact with stunning glaciers and icebergs. You might also want to consider taking a boat trip on Lago Grey to get closer to the glacier.
Secure permits and reservations well in advance, especially during the high season (December to March). Torres del Paine is a popular destination, and park regulations are strictly enforced.
Lago Grey Trail, Chile
The Lago Grey Trail in Torres del Paine National Park, Chile, is a scenic hiking route that leads to the shores of Lago Grey, offering hikers the opportunity to witness the stunning Grey Glacier and its blue icebergs. This trail is known for its relatively easy access and rewarding views.
Considered a relatively easy trek, the Lago Grey Trail can be completed in approximately 4 to 6 hours, depending on your pace and how much time you spend enjoying the views. The trail is accessible to a wide range of hikers, well-maintained and not too steep, but still offers panoramic views of some mind-boggling sights that Patagonia has to offer.
Some of the highlights include the massive Grey Glacier, one of the park’s main attractions. The glacier’s blue ice and jagged formations are a sight to behold.
As you approach Lago Grey, you’ll have the opportunity to see icebergs that have calved from the glacier floating on the lake’s surface. The contrast of the blue ice against the turquoise waters is mesmerising.
Lago Grey itself is a stunning glacial lake surrounded by rugged mountains and forests. It provides a serene and picturesque setting for your hike.
Keep an eye out for birdlife in the area, including cormorants and other waterfowl that can often be seen near the lake. The ever-changing light can create beautiful compositions for keen photographers.
You may also want to consider taking a boat tour on Lago Grey to get closer to the glacier and icebergs. Tours typically depart from the nearby Grey Lake Hotel. The park also offers a shuttle service that can take you to the trailhead from various points within Torres del Paine National Park. Check the park’s schedule for shuttle times.
If you plan to take a boat tour or stay at the Grey Lake Hotel, it’s a good idea to make reservations in advance, especially during the high season.
Cerro Torre Trail, Argentina
The Cerro Torre Trail in Argentina is a popular hiking route that takes you to a viewpoint where you can admire the stunning Cerro Torre, a dramatic spire-shaped mountain surrounded by glaciers and rugged terrain.
Located near the town of El Chaltén in the heart of Patagonia, this trail offers a rewarding day hike with breathtaking scenery. The Cerro Torre Trail can be completed in about 4-5 hours round trip.
This trail is considered a moderate hike suitable for hikers with a reasonable level of fitness. The trail is well-marked and does not involve significant elevation gain.
The main highlight of the hike is the view of Cerro Torre, an iconic mountain known for its distinctive spire shape. The viewpoint provides a perfect vantage point to appreciate the mountain’s grandeur.
The trail leads you to Laguna Torre, a glacial lake at the base of Cerro Torre. The lake is often dotted with floating icebergs, adding to the picturesque scenery.
Along the way, you’ll pass through lenga forests and open landscapes, offering a diverse mix of scenery as you hike. Keep an eye out for birdlife in the area, including condors, eagles, and various species of waterfowl.
Sendero Loma del Pliegue Tumbado, Argentina
The Sendero Loma del Pliegue Tumbado is a scenic hiking trail located near the town of El Chaltén in the Argentine Patagonia. This trail offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it a popular choice for hikers looking for a shorter but rewarding trek.
The duration of the Sendero Loma del Pliegue Tumbado hike is typically around 4 to 6 hours for the round trip. This is considered a moderate hike with a well-marked trail. While it involves some elevation gain, it’s generally accessible to hikers with a reasonable level of fitness.
The main highlight of this trail is the breathtaking panoramic view it offers. From the viewpoint at the summit, you can enjoy sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains, including the Fitz Roy massif, Cerro Torre, and many others.
The trail passes through lenga forests, and depending on the season, you may encounter vibrant fall foliage. The area is also abundant with wildlife and the occasional sighting of guanacos, a type of South American camelid.
Start early to catch the best lighting conditions and potentially have the trail to yourself. The trail is well-marked and does not typically pose navigation challenges.