Immersed in the IX Region we find this beautiful national park, with its characteristic mountainous relief, crystalline lagoons and forests of centenary araucarias. Nature is at its prime here, being without a doubt one of the most stunning and beautiful national parks in Chile and a must-see in the south region.This destination can be explored in a series of trails. From the ascent to the San Sebastián mountain to the walk in the Los Lagos trail, the splendor of the south of Chile will take your breath away.Share this destination:
Azul: Trail Los Lagos
Naranja: Trail Quinchol
Rojo: Trail San Sebastián
Púrpura: Trail Los Huerquenes
AccessIt possible to access the park from two points. The southern access is the main entrance to the park, where you will find the CONAF control post and a series of campsites. It is possible to reach this point by car or public transport. In the first case you must take, from Temuco, the Freire-Villarica-Pucón route. Pucón is 112 km of paved roads from Temuco. From Pucón you must take the road to Lago Caburgua (route 199 and S-905), taking the detour to the right to route S-911 after 21 km. After advancing 6,5 km in route S-911 you must take the detour left to route S-975, which goes straight to the park. Routes S-911 and S-975 are dirt roads in good condition. You can check the access map to the park here. It is possible to hitchhike to the park in summer.Alternatively, you can take buses from Pucón to the park, which have a cost of CLP 3.600 (roundtrip ticket). Bus take 1 hour to the entrance of the park, departing 3 times a day (4 times in summer).The Park The Huerquehue national park offers a series of trails for those who wish to explore it. Most of these trails are relatively short (no more than 1 or 2 days) and have medium/low difficulty. It is a very accessible park where you don't need to be an expert to enjoy its amazing scenery and abundant nature. This park is filled with corners of a breathtaking beauty: leafy forests of araucarias, mountain lochs of crystalline water, lakes, waterfalls and amazing views to the surrounding volcanoes. This park is a dream for nature lovers, which you can enjoy year-round. The trails addressed in this article are the main trails of the park, but it is worth mentioning that there are others which are not mentioned here. The entrance fee varies depending on season, age and nationality, being relatively cheap. Foreign adults pay a maximum of CLP 5.000. You can check the entrance fees here. The majority of campsites are located near the entrance of the park alongside the Tinquilco lake, and they have an approximate cost of CLP 10.000 per site, existing certain variation between campsites.
Los Lagos TrailThis trail is the most popular in the park, where you hike along its famous mountain lochs in a 1 day hike. You have the option of doing the short circuit in which you will visit the lakes Chico, Verde and Toro, or the long circuit that also includes the lagoons Los Patos and Huerquehue. The hike starts in the entrance of the park, or 1,7 km ahead if you advance on vehicle to the parking area. From the entrance, the long circuit has an expected time of 7 hrs walking a distance of 16 km (roundtrip) and an accumulated ascent of 1080 mts. For the short circuit, we have an expected time of 5 hrs, a distance of 13 km (roundtrip) and an accumulated ascent of 730 mts. The Los Lagos trail has a medium physical difficulty and a low technical difficulty.The hike starts with a steep zigzag ascent in the slope of a hill immersed in a thick forest. After passing a CONAF control post, you have to continue to the fork in the trail to the Nido de Águila waterfall and then, further ahead, to the Trafulco waterfall. The trail is clear and well signposted. The ascent continues till we reach lake Chico, where the Huerquehue plateau starts. The route is flatter from this point, with light ascents and descents. After bordering the lake you arrive to a fork, where the circular section of the trail starts. The route passes, in a clockwise direction, Verde lagoon, Los Patos lagoon, Huerquehue lagoon and lake El Toro, walking through forests of araucarias and coigües before returning to the starting point. The scenic beauty of this trail is incredible, and on hotter days we always have the possibility to take a refreshing dip in the cold waters of lake El Toro.Quinchol Trail This trail, less traveled than the last one, ascends to the Quinchol mountain which is located to the east of the Tinquilco lake. A distance of 8 km is covered (roundtrip) with an expected time of 3 hrs. From the top of the mountain, it is possible to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the volcanoes Villarica, Quetrupillán, Quinquilil and Lanín, and the mountain San Sebastián and lake Tinquilco. The views from the top are the main attraction, therefore it is not recommended to do this trail on cloudy days.The physical difficulty of this trail is medium/low, being the physical demand during the start of the trail its main obstacle, where a 740 mts ascent has to be hiked. The technical difficulty is low, since the trail is in good conditions and well signposted. A good pair of trekking shoes are enough to do this hike.
San Sebastián TrailThis trail is an extension of the Quinchol trail continuing to the top of the San Sebastián mountain, one of the highest mountains in the park with over 2.000 masl. The trek covers a distance of 14 km (round-trip) with an expected time of 6 to 7 hrs. The views from the top are incredible. To the north the volcanoes Llaima, Tolhuaca, Lonquimay and Sierra Nevada; to the south the volcanoes Lanín, Quetrupillán, Mocho, Choshuenco and Villarrica. From the top you can see clearly the lakes and lagoons Chico, Toro, Verde, Huerquehue, Escondida and Seca.This is without a doubt one of the most beautiful trails in the park, but also a very physically demanding one. This trek has a medium physical and technical difficulty, with some sections with a steep slope. The trail has an accumulated ascent of 1.250 mts to the top. The signposting of this trail is less clear than Quinchol's, but since it advances continually in the crest of the mountain range the road to the top is pretty obvious. The ravines on the sides of the trail are very steep and descend hundreds of meters, thus not suitable for people with vertigo. A good pair of trekking boots is required, and trekking canes to help with the ascent are recommended.Huerquenes TrailWith an expected time of 2 days and covering a distance of 25 km this is the longest trail of the park. The route starts in the entrance of the park and ends in the Blanco river hot springs, where you can find campsites. It can be walked from south to north (most common direction) or north to south. The physical difficulty of this trek is medium, where the ascents and long hours of walking are the main obstacle. The technical difficulty is low; the roads are well signposted and in good conditions. A good pair of trekking shoes are more than enough to realize this trek (aside from the camping gear of course).The first day covers a distance of 15 km in an expected time of 6 hrs. The first section is part of the Los Lagos trail. You can enjoy the waterfalls Nido de Águila and Trafulco during the ascent, and afterwards the lakes Chico and El Toro. The latter is a good place to rest, have lunch and have a refreshing dip in the lake. The road continues bordering this lake to the north, in a trail surrounded by centenary araucarias. After leaving the lake behind and 30 minutes later, you arrive to an open area with a fork in the trail. If you continue to the left you will return to the rest of the Los Lagos circular trail, to the right starts the Huerquenes trail. You must take the latter. Continuing towards the north you will reach the end of the Huerquehue plateau and the terrain descends abruptly towards the Renahue valley. After the descent you arrive to the detour to the Pehuén lagoon to the right. You have to continue to the left towards campsite Renahue. This campsite has tables and water, and costs CLP 15.000 per tent.The second day covers a distance of 10 km in an expected time of 4 hrs. This section starts in the campsite Renahue and continues to the east. The first part of this section ascends constantly up-valley towards the Renahue pass (barely perceptible because of the low slope). Then the trail descends, always towards the east, till it reaches an area where the first houses start to appear and a vehicle road. The trail ends in the Blanco river, where there are hot springs and campsites. Nothing better to crown the journey than enjoying a good hot bath. The campsites have a cost of around CLP 7.000 per tent with access to the hot springs. From this point it is possible to hitchhike to Cunco or Curarrehue, from where you can take a bus to other cities.
Precautions y Recommendations
1. Best season: This park is open year-round and has unique attractions during each season. In summer you get the best temperatures and weather, plus you can enjoy a bath in the lake and all the trails are available for the traveler. Between January and February the park receives the highest number of visitors. In winter temperatures drop and snow falls over the park. The scenic views of the snowy forests and frozen lagoons is amazing, although some trails may be closed during this season. In autumn the park turns red, and in spring there is an abundance of wild flowers.2. Water: Ask at the entrance for information regarding the points where you can resupply your bottle with water suitable for drinking, since there are sections of trails with no access to water and the water of lakes can be of dubious quality.3. Food: Buy food in Temuco or Pucón before going to the park.4. Equipment: A good pair of trekking boots is required in case of doing the San Sebastián trail. If you plan to camp, no special tents or sleeping bags are needed (if you go in summer). Regardless of the season, it is always advisable to bring sunscreen with you.5. Physical condition: The trails in the park are somewhat demanding, but there are not long circuits and the trails are in good conditions. The steep slopes in some sections are the main obstacle. It is not necessary to be in excellent shape to do the hikes.6. Trash and fire: DON'T leave any kind of trash or garbage in the route, nor make a campfire under any circumstances (for cooking use a portable gas stove). Also don't interfere in any way with the local flora and fauna. Be a responsible backpacker and contribute to make sure nature is well cared for!