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


"Quinchol" and "San Sebastián" Trails – Huerquehue National Park
In the Huerquehue National Park there are other less visited trails than the Los Lagos one. For example, to the Cerro Quinchol, which lays east of the Lake Tinquilco. From the top there is a wonderful view towards different volcanoes and mountains. Being the view its main attraction, you might consider if it is worth doing this trail on a cloudy day.
From the Cerro Quinchol there is also the chance of extending the excursion through the trail San Sebastián to reach the top of the name’s sake mountain, which with almost 2000 meters is one of the highest in the park. There is no need of climbing experience, but there are areas where you must watch your step and walk carefully. Due to some steep cliffs it is not recommended for people who suffer vertigo. The upper part is open to the winds, and can be very dangerous.
General Information:

Distance and duration:
Quinchol Circuit: 8 km round trip, 1½-2 hours uphill, 1-1½ hours back. Starting point at 780 meters, maximum height 1.420 meters, total ascent 740 meters.
Ascent to the Cerro San Sebastián: 13,8 km round way, 14,6 km if you take the Quinchol Circuit back; 2½-4 hours uphill, 2-3 hours back. Starting point at 780 meters, maximum height 1.920 meters, total ascent 1.250 meters.

Physical demand:
Trail Quinchol: low.
Trail San Sebastián: moderate.

Easy, the trails are well marked, there are signs and stakes. Parts of the ascent of the San Sebastián are less clear, but since you have to aim to the top, the trail is pretty obvious.

Best time to do it:
Trail Quinchol: November to May.
Trail San Sebastián: January to April.
Conaf does not permit the ascent in winter with snow.

Since the trail is very steep, we recommend trekking boots and hiking poles. For the trail Quinchol it is OK with good sport shoes. It is important to bring along enough water.

Entrance fee:
CONAF charges $ 3.700 to Chileans and $ 7.400 to foreigners.


How to get there:
From Pucón, take the road to Caburgua until km 20. There you have to turn right, there is a sign to Huerquehue National Park, and you have to continue through a gravel road that gets to the hamlet of Paillaco at km 27. From here the road continues uphill to reach at km 32 the Tinquilco Lake and at km 34 the entrance to the park where is the rangers’ control office and visitor’s center of CONAF.
The road continues in regular condition (not recommended for low vehicles) for about two kilometers until the end of the lake, where there is a parking lot that charges for the spot.
There is public transportation (Buses JAC) until CONAF. Along the shores of the Tinquilco Lake there are several simple campsites, a couple of bed & breakfast, and two nice hostels. It is possible to get bread, eggs and some basic groceries, but it is better to bring what you need from Pucón.
Route description:

The beginning of the trail is about 400 meters after the control booth, there is a sign “Sendero Quinchol” to the right. After 10 minutes climbing, you hear to the left the gurgle of a brook. Warning: this is the last chance to get water. The trail now continues in zigzag through the slope. It is possible to have some views to the Tinquilco Lake and the waterfalls and the bottom of the valley through the vegetation. After walking for 40 to 60 minutes, the vegetation gets wilder, with big coigües and the first araucarias. 15 minutes later there is a fork: there is an arrow to the left that indicates “Sendero San Sebastián” and another one indicating to both ways “Circuito Quinchol”. We suggest taking the one to the left, since later is easier to find the right way.
After some minutes you get out of the forest and reach a mountain pass with coirón, a characteristic highland grass that grows in small hillocks and makes it difficult to walk. There are many isolated araucarias of different heights and sizes. The trail gets difficult to follow, but it is marked with iron red stakes. Further ahead you can see a wooden sign indicating “Sendero San Sebastián” straight ahead and “Circuito Quinchol” to the right. From here you have an impressive view to the mountains San Sebastián and Nevados de Caburgua with the Llaima volcano to the north and to the volcanoes Villarrica, Choshuenco, Quetrupillán, Quinquilil (Devil’s Fang) and Lanín, the later with over 3700 meters, the highest one.
Even though you don’t intend to go to the San Sebastián, it is worth to walk for another 10 minutes in that direction in order to reach a view point to the lakes Tinquilco and Caburgua before the trail gets downhill and back to the forest.

Circuito Quinchol:
From the sign mentioned above, the trail to the Circuit Quinchol turns to the south and then gets into a beautiful forest with araucarias and lengas next to a small hill. Here there are some brooks from which you can take water, but only in case of emergency, since it is not clear if it is safe or not. 30 minutes later you get out of the forest and reach another pass covered with coirón. From the sign mentioned above, the trail to the Circuit Quinchol turns to the south and then gets into a beautiful forest with araucarias and lengas next to a small hill. Here there are some brooks from which you can take water, but only in case of emergency, since it is not clear if it is safe or not. 30 minutes later you get out of the forest and reach another pass covered with coirón.

To the southwest you see a hill that you can reach in about 10 minutes walking through bushes, always aiming to the top. Sometimes there seems to be parts of a trail, but they get lost after a while. Over some rocks there is a viewpoint with the most impressive view towards the valley of the Trancura River with a chain of volcanoes at the bottom.
There are about 1000 meters extra roundtrip, with an ascent of 70 m

From the pass, the trail turns to the north and starts to get downhill towards the Tinquilco Lake. In about 10 minutes you finish the circuit getting to the bifurcation, and in another hour you will be again at the CONAF’s control, where you started the excursion.

San Sebastián Trail:
From the plateau where both trails separate you have to take to the northeast, towards the Cerro San Sebastián that you can already see. Shortly afterwards you will reach a viewpoint that opens to the north. You can clearly see the intermediate depression where the lakes Chico, Verde and Toro lay, but you can’t see the lakes yet. At the bottom you will distinguish the Llaima volcano. Then the trail gets downhill a little bit and enters again the forest. The trail continues through the crest of the mountains that are part of the Nevados de Caburga. There are plainer parts that take turns with more steep ones. Bamboo stakes painted in red confirm that you are on the right trail. Soon afterwards the big coigües disappear and are replaced by lengas. Each time that the trail gets closer to a cliff to your right, you find wonderful views towards the valley of the Nevado River, which runs hundreds of meters below.
45 to 60 minutes from the bifurcation the forest gets less thick. The araucarias grow smaller and the soil gets rockier, and finally the lenga is the only tree that survives at this altitude, but only with small specimens, known as “krummholz”. The trail gets heavier, with very steep parts, and you even have to crawl using lenga roots, trunks and branches. After some very difficult parts rocky hillocks appear over the crests that show even more impressive views while you are getting higher and higher. Near the 1700 meters even the lenga disappears. Only coirón, some bushes and few other plants can adapt to this highland climate.
15 minutes later you think that you have done it. But once you get to the top, you realize that there is still some way to go, to another higher top ahead. To both sides the mountain falls hundreds of meters; buy usually there is a safe path to the top. Only when rocks get in the way you have to be very careful and look for the best way to continue.
10 minutes later is the same story all over, but now you see the right summit only 200 meters ahead, marked with a bamboo stake. Now you are at 1920 meters high. The view is just spectacular to the volcanoes Llaima, Tolhuaca, Lonquimay and the Sierra Nevada to the far north; the Lanín, Quetrupillán, Mocho, Choshuenco and Villarrica to the south. Almost like a bird you can see from above the lakes Chico, Toro, Verde, and the lagoons Huerquehue, Escondida and Seca. Also to the south you can see the Lagoon San Manuel, which lies to the bottom of the Cerro San Sebastián.


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 trailhead
Ch$ 40.000
Dropping off and picking up (on the same day):
Ch$ 70.000
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

Villarrica volcano from the Quinchol lookout

"Piñones" are the fruits of the araucaria trees

Lenga forest with hanging lichen

Path through thr lenga krummholz

Tinquilco and Caburgua lakes

The last few steps to reach the summit of San Sebastián

From the summit you can see the lakes Chico, Verde y Toro ("Los Lagos" Trail), ans the Escondida lagoon in the foreground

View to the north with the volcanoes Llaima, Tolhuaca, Lonquimay and Sierra Nevada

Other peaks of the Nevados de Caburgua

For more information, please contact us at:

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