Patagonia

The Greatest Hiking Trails in Patagonia

Viva Expeditions OLD  |  12 December 2019

Our collection of the region’s most jaw-dropping highlights!

Patagonia may well be overwhelmingly huge, yet exploring on foot remains the very best way to experience its grandeur.

Our collection of the greatest hiking trails in Patagonia bring you up close and very personal with the region’s most jaw-dropping highlights: from the snow-peaked Andes to stunning lakes, waterfalls and glaciers that seem to hang as if by magic, as well as an abundance of wildlife spotting and a sensational, unforgettable adventure in nature. Time to get those boots on! Here are the greatest hiking trails in Patagonia!

Click the links below to skip through the article:

  1. W-Trek
  2. Grey Glacier Hike
  3. Mirador las Torres Trek
  4. Hanging Glacier
  5. Laguna de los Tres Trek
  6. Laguna Torres Trek

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W-Trek, Torres del Paine 

Length: 80km

Time: 5-7 days

Difficulty: Moderate

Start from: Paine Grande Ranger Station

Aside from the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the W-trek in Torres is the most famous and coveted hiking trail in all of South America. Yet unlike the way of the ancient Incas, this one is a little more hard-core. Aside from going up and down for days on end, you’ll also have to contend with the notoriously unpredictable Patagonian climate. The rewards for this hard(ish) slog are that you’ll cast your eyes on some of the most jaw-dropping landscapes on earth. So, you know, there’s always that! All up, you’ll amass a combined altitude of almost 3,000m but luckily, if you hike in summer, you’ll have refugios (basic accommodation and yummy local food) and even luxury eco-camps (oh my!) for respite along the way, although you’ll need to book these, way in advance.

If you’re feeling particularly badass, you can extend the W and complete the entire circuit, which adds 40km and about 3 hiking days to your itinerary. Fancy this but only want to do a portion of it on a day-long hike? Totally doable. See what’s coming up!

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Grey Glacier Hike, Torres del Paine 

Length: 22km

Time: 7 – 8 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Start from: Paine Grande Ranger Station

A few of the W-Trek’s highlights can be enjoyed on daylong hikes starting from various points, the most popular of which is the trail to the Grey Glacier. This is the one we recommend if you’re happy to challenge yourself but only for one full day. The retreating glacier is one of Torres’ most outstanding sights and, to be brutally honest, the highlight everyone who’s done the W raves about. The trail ascends consistently but not too steeply at first and then flattens out as you reach Grey Lake and accosts it to the first and then second glacier viewpoint.

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Mirador las Torres Trek, Torres del Paine 

Length: 20km

Time: 9hrs

Difficulty: Easy for the most part, steep at the end

Start from: Hotel las Torres

This is a fantastic introductory hiking trail in Patagonia and about the best day-trek in Torres del Paine National Park. Flat and gorgeous for the most part, the trail only picks up steepness at the end and although it can be a bit of scramble to get to the top, the view of the three majestic granite peaks will make you forget all about the leg-burn. With flying condors and clear cobalt blue skies, this spectacular scene is one to store in the memory back, forever. The trail is suitable for active families as the 8hr return-time includes all the breaks you’ll need and plenty of time at the viewpoint. Note that you will also be bagging this bad boy if you hike the W-Trek.

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Click HERE to see our Torres del Paine Tours

Hanging Glacier, Queulat National Park

Length: 4km

Time: 3-4 leisurely hours

Difficulty: Easy

Start from: Puyuhuapi

This off-beat northern Patagonian highlight sees far fewer hikers than the above-mentioned trails and is a wonderful alternative right at the height of tourist season. Mind you, it’s magnificent at any time of year! Three trails within the park will bring you to within sniffing distance of the spellbinding Queulat glacier and sensational waterfalls cascading right off it to the rocks below. The Queulat National Park is one of the many secrets hiding in plain sight along the Carretera Austral. This is the Patagonia the guide-books don’t tell you much about and, if you ask us, that’s precisely the reason you should visit. You know those treasures between A and B that everyone misses because they’re just so intent on getting from A to B? This is that.

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Laguna de los Tres Trek, Los Glaciares National Park

Length: 20km

Time: 10hrs

Difficulty: Moderate-High

Start from: El Chalten

Guiding you to the base of the three most spectacular peaks in Los Glaciares (namely Fitz Roy, Torre and Poincenot) this stunning route promises an awe-inspiring visual feast. On this spectacular hiking trail in Patagonia, you’ll be strolling alongside glaciers and sapphire lakes, through enchanted forests and open valleys framed by jagged mountaintops. The trail is steep at times, especially the last km or so, and that’s what makes it a bit of a challenge for some. Most will complete it in a single hard day but, given the option for side hikes and extensions, you could easily be out here for three or four days, nonstop.

The spectacle of the Fitz Roy Massif reflected on the glacial lagoon is simply out of this world. This is the Patagonia of postcards!

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Laguna Torres Trek, Los Glaciares National Park

Length: 21-24km

Time: 1 full day, leisurely

Difficulty: Moderate (steep at the start and end to the last viewpoint, moderate in the middle)

Start from: El Chalten

Cerro Torre is renowned for being among the most technically challenging mountains in the world to climb given its near-vertical walls, although it is ‘only’ 3,130m high. On this trail, however, you can hike to the lagoon at its base and enjoy the thrilling satisfaction of at the very least seeing it in person. Head off from El Chalten and follow the Fitz Roy River all the way to its source; a gorge that offers eye-popping mountain views of the Adela Range and beyond. Cerro Torre is undoubtedly the most arresting sight to behold yet mind-blowing views are the order of the day on the entire length of this trail. Iceberg-filled lagoons, endless horizons of dramatic rocky outcrops and peaks, make this a visual spectacle that’ll leave you breathless. The varying distance of this amazing hiking trail in Patagonia is due to the varying viewpoints you can reach.

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Click HERE to see our Los Glaciers Tours

It’s easy to see why Patagonia’s greatest hiking trails are rated amongst the best in the world and although you need to be moderately fit, there are plenty of options here and even viewpoints that are wheelchair accessible. Because this kind of spectacular nature should be seen by one and all.

Fancy knowing more? Here’s some more insightful reading material:

Exploring Patagonia’s best hiking trails takes more than just desire, however. The logistics of planning a visit to this remote and sparsely populated region can be substantial.

So why not leave it up to us? See our most popular Patagonia Group Tours and talk to us about private, bespoke itineraries that gift you the priceless chance of experiencing Patagonia, YOUR way. Contact us, right here.

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