Lago Chico is something of a legend, with unusual lake-to-lake views down to the immense Lago Cochrane, across to Cerro San Lorenzo, and out into Argentina. This spot eluded many a hiker who set out in search of the mysterious lake—until now, with the completion of a new loop trail to and around the lake.
With the help of park superintendent Dago Guzman, Evaristo Jara and his trailbuilding crew selected an intriguing route with numerous unexpected views. Over the past month, they’ve built on the work of last season’s volunteers to create a pleasant 12km loop, destined to be one of the park’s best-loved trails.
The trail takes off uphill, through a section of once-burned forest that we’ve worked to restore, cutting downed logs as firewood for employees. Soon, the mighty San Lorenzo appears—as, more times than not, does the wind. Through grasslands and southern beech forests, various wildflowers pop up along the way. When Lago Chico appears, so does Lago Cochrane. Hiking around Lago Chico offers great views back to Cerro Oportus, and even the Aviles Valley behind. Various spots along the way beg for a swim or picnic.
Reaching the trailhead still takes a bit of know-how, with signage still in the works. From the park headquarters, it’s an hour-long drive east toward Argentina before you reach the turnoff toward the future Rojas Campground, a secondary road that leads south from the main route. Follow this route across a narrow bridge, then climb steadily up through the southern beech forest (4×4 vehicle required!).
Over the next year, in anticipation of the park’s opening, the team will add signage that will make the route easier to decipher amidst the various animal trails in the area. Already, however, this trail, funded by Patagonia, Inc, offers a perfect introduction to some of Patagonia’s most spectacular landscapes.