Ansorena 425 local 4 · Pucón · Chile · · · Phone/Fax (56) 452444040 · Mobile phone (56) 9-93536886
Home > Excursions > Hikes > "Los Nevados" Trail
Villarrica National Park:
  Mirador Los Cráteres
  Los Nevados
  Valle Turbio
  Quetrupillán Ascent
  Villarrica Traverse:
  First Part:
Ski Center - Chinay
("Challupén - Chinay")
  Central Part:
Chinay - Puesco ("Los Venados" and "Las Avutardas")
Huerquehue National Park:
  Los Lagos Trail
  Quinchol and San Sebastián
Villarrica National Reserve:
  Laguna Huesquefilo
Other areas:
  Santuario El Cañi


“Los Nevados” Trail – Villarrica National Park
This excursion goes around the east slopes of the Villarrica volcano through a high volcanic desert which, sometimes, looks like a moon landscape. It is possible to observe several ancient secondary craters and there is also a good view towards the Quetrupillán, Lanín and Llaima, but is seldom possible to see the top of the Villarrica.
You can combine this excursion with the trail “Challupén – Chinay” to go almost all the way around the Villarrica for three days, or –doing the trail the other way round- start here the traverse towards the Laguna Los Patos and Puesco
General Information:

Distance and duration:
There are 12 kms, 3½-5 hours, from the parking place at the Chinay pass until the end of the trail in the limit of the National Park. From this place there are 4 kms more downhill through a local road until the fork next to the Chapel Los Nevados, where you will have more chances to find a car for hitchhiking. Or there are 8.5 kms in all until the main road Pucón – Curarrehue.
The starting point is at 1.290 m, the highest point (Portezuelo Cerro Colorado) is at 1.555 m, and the total ascent are 560 m.
If the car only can go as far as the CONAF rangers’ office in Chinay, you must add other 4 kms and 1 to 1½ hours.
If you want to take the detour towards the glacier Pichillancahue there are 5.6 kms (310 meters of total ascent) and 1½-2 extra hours

Physical demand:
Moderate; it is high if you have to walk from the rangers’ office to the road to Pucón. There are long legs without water.

Difficult; even though the trail is marked with iron stakes, there are parts where they are missing because they were washed away by mudslides. From the summer pasture lands of Los Nevados it is possible that some cows enter into the National Park, and its prints can be clearer than the real trail. Only for people with experience in orientation, and if you are not sure, it is better to hire a guide. Use of GPS is recommended.

Best time to do it:
January to May.

Good trekking shoes are a must, and hiking poles are also recommended. Take water

Entrance fee:
There is a CONAF’s office at the access road, where they charge $ 3.700 to Chileans and $ 7.400 to foreigners (often unattended ranger station).

How to get there:
Getting out of Pucón take the paved road to Argentina (Camino Internacional) until the crossing Palguín (km 20), turn to the south and keep on driving to the Hot Springs of Palguín through a good gravel road. Instead of entering to the hot springs (km 30) take the road to the left with the sign “Coñaripe”. At km 35 there is a gate that welcomes you to the National Park and the road gets worse. This area is known as “Chinay”. A little bit ahead there is the CONAF’s office (km 36) where they charge the entrance fee and you can ask about the conditions of the rest of the road. From here on four-wheel-drive is a must. First there is a part full with roots and large rocks, and then it comes the final ascent to the pass. Farther ahead there is a parking place with the beginning of the trail.
There are 40 kilometers from Pucón, but due to the poor state of the road it takes 1½ hours. Until the rangers’ office there are 36 kilometers, approximately an hour.
Route description:

The first part goes along the trail marked “Pichillancahue”. There is a soft ascent through a spectacular araucaria forest mixed first with coigües and then with lengas, but after 20 minutes walking we already reach the limit of the forest. Here we have a wonderful view in 360º to the volcanoes Villarrica to the west, Llaima and Sollipulli to the north, Quetrupillán and Lanín to the east and Choshuenco/Mocho to the south. Soon afterwards there is a fork to the right where officially starts the CONAF’s trail “Los Nevados”, meanwhile the trail to the glacier Pichillancahue continues straight ahead. This detour takes 5.6 kms round way, 310 m of total ascent and 1½-2 extra hours.
If you take the trail Los Nevados, you will see that from now on the road is marked with stakes painted in pink, we continue through high pasture lands until reaching in 5 minutes a brook with crystal clear waters. It is the first of only three places where you can get water along the road. There is a bizarre rock formation nearby, with basalt columns in its classical hexagonal form. After that starts a soft ascent, and then the path continues over the limit of the forest, crosses a second brook at stake number 5 until it enters into a small forest of stubby lengas about 50 minutes after the bifurcation. The shadow protects us only for few meters, but 5 minutes later the path enters again into a forest, bigger this time and with taller trees. Among the vegetation there are cow prints that usually come to this height, and you must be very careful not to loose the right trail that –after about 250 meters inside the forest- turns to the left and starts to get downhill towards the bottom of the valley. Ten minutes later we should be getting at stake number 8 next to a river, a good place for a picnic or to pitch a tent if necessary. This is the last chance to take water for the next three hours, until reaching the vehicular road.
Past the river, the trail gets uphill along the valley, gets to a plateau and turns northeast. At the bottom you can see a pass that separates the walls of the Villarrica from the Cerro Colorado which lies to our north. This pass, which we reach after walking for 30 to 45 minutes from the river, is the highest point of the trail Los Nevados. From here it takes a general direction between north and northeast. Now starts another part with difficult orientation. Sometimes the path is barely visible, sometimes in divides in two with no clear reason. The stakes help, but there are some missing. In general, the trail gets downhill, with short parts uphill to get out of the several dry creeks that go to the east, which were formed by the winter rains. The road continues along the left side of a small hill called by the locals “Cerro Bayo”, for its clear brown color. Then it goes around the Cerro Negro to the right. The landscape has turned moonlike, almost with no vegetation. Finally we recognize an extinguished crater, still over the limit of the forest, but covered with Andean grass. This is the Cerro Sillón, which left’s slopes come 60 to 75 minutes after the pass.
At stake 25 the trail gets to another dry creek and continues along it until getting into a forest and later you have to get to the bottom of the creek. On the rocky and sandy river bed araucarias grow, which due to the mudslides are buried in several meters of sediments, so only the tops are visible. The trail continues trough a dry river bed until entering a thicker forest. Finally we get to a T shaped crossing with an ancient timber road: here is the limit of the National Park. Both arms of the road meet ahead; the one to the right is slightly shorter. Ten minutes later we get to a fence. Until this place you could hire a car to pick you up.
If you have to continue on foot, you must take the local road. This area is populated by people that live from livestock and timber work. 10 minutes later is the fork to the left to get to the “Mountain Lodge”, a private shelter which is often closed. After walking for another 15 minutes, the road crosses a small channel that was built 50 years ago, and which provides with water to all the area of Los Nevados, since the soil is so porous that there are no brooks. 10 minutes afterwards there is a gate normally locked, if you are coming from the other side with a car and wish to drive through, you must ask for permission at a house about 400 metros before, at the right coming from the road. There are 20 minutes more to the rural Chapel of Los Nevados where there is a crossing and also more chances to find a ride. One more hour downhill is the main road Pucón-Curarrehue, with public transportation.


Support for this hike:

GPS Rental:
We can also rent you a GPS device with the uploaded track and waypoints you will need.
For detailled information>

Click here to see enlarged images

Area map

Splitting point of the trails "Pichillancahue" and "Los Nevados"

One of the few creeks to get water

Large streches wich volcanic ashes

Hikers in a moonlike landscape

Meeting the vegetation again

Araucaria trees half-burried in sediments

For more information, please contact us at:

TravelAid · Ansorena 425 local 4 · Pucón · Chile · ·
Phone/Fax (56) 452444040 · Mobile phone (56) 9-93536886 · ·