Ansorena 425 local 4 · Pucón · Chile · · · Phone/Fax (56) 452444040 · Mobile phone (56) 9-93536886
Home > Excursions > Hikes > "Pichillancahue" 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


“Pichillancahue” Trail – Villarrica National Park
It is an interesting walk to the most accessible glacier of the Villarrica Volcano. It does no correspond to the typical image of a glacier, since it is covered with volcanic ashes. The trail starts in a beautiful araucaria forest and offers impressive views to five volcanoes.
General Information:

Distance and duration:
3,7 km one way, 75 – 90 minutes uphill, 60 minutes back. Staring point at 1.290 m, highest point to (in front of the glacier) 1.710 m, total ascent 420 m.
If you must start at the rangers’ office, you will have to walk 4 extra kms in both ways, and add 90 minutes uphill and 60 back.

Physical demand:
Low; moderate if you start from the rangers’ office.

Easy, the path is marked with iron stakes painted in red.

Best time to do it:
December to May.

Best are trekking shoes. It is also possible with firm sport shoes.

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 path starts slowly uphill through a splendid araucaria forest mixed first with coigües and then with lengas, but after 20 minutes walking we reach the limit of the forest. There is a spectacular 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. Shortly afterwards there is a fork with a sign to the right “Los Nevados”, meanwhile the path to the glacier Pichillancahue continues straight ahead, over a small hill covered in high land grass, which separates two brooks that run parallel at least 50 meters from each other. To the left is the Pichillancahue, which results from the melting waters of the glacier and brings lots of dirty water mixed with volcanic ashes; later downhill it comes together with the river Llancahue and flows towards the lake Calafquén. To the right there is a brook with clear waters that runs towards Chinay and Palguín, the same road we came from.
40 minutes after we started to walk, the valley of the Pichillancahue deviates to the left, and the soil gets almost barren. The strange rocky formations that enclose the valley are rests of an ancient volcanic caldron of the Villarrica. Some parts of the path are not very clear, but you just have to continue through the valley towards the Villarrica volcano. At the bottom you can distinguish a dark mass, very cracked, that closes the valley. When we get closer, it turns out to be the glacier, which is completely covered by volcanic ashes, since it is just on the direction that the winds blow from the crater. Removing this cape of ashes on its sides, it is easy to see the ice mass beneath. It is possible continue uphill for another 40 minutes to reach another hill to the south, from where there is an impressive general panorama.


Support for this hike:

You can hire an English or German speaking guide for this excursion for Ch$ 80.000 (US$ 100).

If you don't have your own transport, we can organize the transfer for you (please ask at least with one day in advance). These are the different options, all rates for the ride with up to 4 people:

Transfer to the National Park entrance:
Ch$ 50.000
Dropping off and picking up (on the same day):
Ch$ 80.000
Transfers both ways, including bilingual guide on the hike:
Ch$ 100.000

For larger groups over 4 people, please ask for rates.
Note: The rates do not include possible entrance fees.

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

At the beginning, the path crosses a lush forrest

After 20 minutes we reach the tree line

Multicoloured walls of an ancient volcanic caldera

View to the neighbouring volcanoes Quetrupillán and Lanín

The ice of the glacier, grey coloured by the volcanic ashes

Villarrica volcano with Pichillancahue glacier

For more information, please contact us at:

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