6 trekking routes near Santiago, accessible by public transport

If you are surrounded by buildings in Santiago, but you just want to go into nature and don’t know where to go, we are going to recommend some trekking routes very close to the capital city. All these can be reached by public transport, so they are ideal for weekends or a single day off, before taking a plane back home.

1. Quebrada de Macul

Quebrada de Macul

Quebrada de Macul (Photo by Condeport on Flickr)

To go you don’t have to be an expert, so let’s go step by step. The Quebrada de Macul Natural Park is an easy family walk, which has a very clear path and is ideal for people who are just starting out with trekking. The flora of this place is called sclerophyllous forest, typical of Chile’s central zone and not very common in the world. It’s the refuge of trees such as Boldo, Litre and Quillay, which have had to adapt to extreme weather conditions: very hot Summers and very cold Winters.

The most popular and attractive route goes up to the Macul Waterfall, a 10-meter waterfall that is reached after two hours of walking. Before getting there you will pass a viewpoint (the U viewpoint) where you can enjoy a nice panoramic view of the hills and the valley.

The total extension of the route to the waterfall is about 8 kilometers (4 hours). The complete path goes up to the summit of La Cruz and Ramón hills, but to arrive there you must face a high difficulty path that requires several hours of walking. You can check the complete route on the Parque Cordillera Association’s website, who administer the area. Entrance is free.

How to get there by public transport?
From any point of Santiago, you must take the subway and emerge at Grecia station (line 4 / Blue). Then go to the bus stop on Avenida Grecia, where the buses come from the west and go up to the end of the Avenue. You must hop off when you arrive to Diagonal las Torres avenue and walk south for 1.5 km., passing outside Adolfo Ibáñez University. (bus lines 506, 507, 507c, 519e, 511, D07)

2. Salto de Apoquindo (Aguas de Ramón Natural Park)

Salto de Apoquindo

Salto de Apoquindo (Photo by avalanchechile.cl)

In La Reina district there is a great waterfall in between the foothills, one you can also reach by public transport: Salto de Apoquindo. This place is inside the Aguas de Ramón Natural Park, which has 4 trails with different difficulty levels: the Canto del Agua trail is 1 km. long, with low difficulty; the Paleontological route is a little more demanding and 1.5 hours long; Los Peumos circuit is 4 hours long at medium difficulty. The most beautiful path is the one going to Salto de Apoquindo.

This waterfall has a drop of about 30 meters and it’s reached in 4 hours, from the entrance of the park. The round trip is 17.5 km. long and has a total duration of 7 hours. The difficulty of the trail is medium-high, but it’s worth visiting, not only because of the waterfall, but also because of the views of Santiago you can from the top.

You need to arrive early if you want to reach the waterfall. The time limit to start the route is between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., because the park closes all trails at 5 p.m. Admission costs CLP 3000 (USD 5).

How to get there by public transport?
From any point of Santiago, you must take the subway and emerge at Principe de Gales station (line 4 / Blue). After leaving the station, take the D18 bus and get off on Principe de Gales avenue and Valenzuela Llanos street. One block from there is La Reina Square, where you can take a colectivo (a kind of shared taxi with a fix route) to the park (USD 2 / CLP 1,100) or walk down Onofre Jarpa street towards the mountain for 1.7 km. (about 25 minutes).

3. El Panul Forest

Bosque El Panul

Bosque El Panul (Photo by piensachile.com)

This forest is located on the Andes foothills in La Florida district, within the Quebrada de Lo Cañas area, in El Panul farm. The route is quite flat and very quiet. It also goes through a sclerophyllous forest and hosts different types of native flora and fauna, all facing some degree of danger of disappearing. You can find trees up to 200 years old, such as Espino, Bollén and Litre. There are also some species in serious danger of extinction, such as Peumo and Guayacán. Within the forest there are a lot of birds such as Pequén, Loica, the Purple Eagle and small hummingbirds. There are also reptiles and arthropods, almost all of them in danger of extinction.

The park is managed by the residents of the area, who are organized in a community and try to protect the forest from the real estate business and pollution. That’s why visiting it, taking care of it and using it for recreational activities is very important. If you want to know more about the project you can visit the Precordillera Network website. Entrance is free.

How to get there by public transport?
The easiest way to get there is to take the subway from any spot in Santiago and emerge at the Bellavista de La Florida station (line 5 / Green). From the intermodal bus station (just outside the subway station), there are two bus lines that take you to the forest: E07 and 322. You must reach the end of either route and then walk for a couple of minutes down Rojas Magallanes street until the entrance of the park.

4. Manquehue Hill

Cerro Manquehue

Cerro Manquehue (Photo by detrekking.cl)

Manquehue means “place of condors” in Mapudungun (language of the Mapuche people) and, although condors are seen less and less nowadays, Manquehue hill is still one of the most popular trekking routes in Santiago. From here you can see the whole city and, if you go on a clear day and with not much smog, you will be able to see several districts and areas: Lo Curro, La Dehesa, Conchalí and Vitacura.

The difficulty level is average, but you must have a pair of shoes, so you don’t slip over the loose stones in the way. You will also need water, because there is no drinking water in the area.

The hill can be accessed from different points, but the climb through Lo Curro is the “official” and better signaled one. From this entrance the route is 4.8 km. long, round trip. The climb takes between 1 and 2 hours, but it depends a lot on your physical condition, since there are difficult spots. Admission is free of charge.

How to get there by public transport?
To get easily to the beginning of the trail, there are colectivos (those special taxis) that leave from outside the Escuela Militar subway station (line 1 / Red) or from the Lo Curro roundabout. For about CLP 3,000 CLP (USD 4.5), they drop you off at the parking lot at the beginning of the route. If you feel like walking and you don’t want to spend much, there are Transantiago buses that take you to the Lo Curro roundabout (Louis Pasteur avenue and Santa María avenue), which is about 40 minutes walking distance (2.5 km.) away from the start of the route. There you can easily hitchhike and get a ride to the entrance, especially on weekends.

To get to the Lo Curro roundabout, from anywhere in Santiago, take the subway and get to Escuela Militar station. There you have to take the C14 bus until you reach the roundabout. Once there, walk 200 meters along Gran Vía street towards the west and then turn right on Vía Azul street. Then walk until you reach Vía Roja street, and keep going till the end of the road.

5. Pochoco Hill

Cerro Pochoco

Cerro Pochoco (Photo by innermountain.cl)

This trekking route, about 4 hours long (4.6 km. round trip) is a frequent walk for Santiago hikers. Its difficulty is medium, because the the hill steepens as the road progresses. The height at the summit is 1,804 meters, which means an impressive view of Santiago and El Plomo Hill.

The route has places with a lot loose stones, so it’s best to wear shoes with good grip and always follow the most marked path not to get lost (although all the other paths also reach the top). Free entrance.

How to get there by public transport?
From any point of Santiago, take the subway to Manquehue station (line 1 / Red). Outside the station take bus C01 going East and reach San Enrique Square. From there you must take a bus to the parking lot by Pochoco Hill (CLP 1200 CLP, USD 2 approx.).

6. Yerba Loca

Yerba Loca

Yerba Loca (Photo by detrekking.cl)

If you ask about trekking, several people will mention Yerba Loca Park. It’s famous because you can choose a lot of trekking options within its 28 protected: from a simple one-day trip to hikes that take 2 or 3 days.

If you want something not so demanding you can visit an area called Villa Paulina, where you can access and explore a bit of several trails. There are camping areas, bathrooms, a cafeteria and an Environmental Education Center.

For those who look for adventure and want to camp for at least one night, the final goal should be the base of La Paloma Glacier. On the way you can find water springs, a stream to cool off in Summer and a great variety of fauna. There are several rodents like Degu or Cururos and, in smaller numbers, it’s also possible to see Rabbits, Hares, Foxes and Vizcachas. After reaching the glacier, you can see some birds of prey and Condors.

The best time to visit Yerba Loca is between late October and May, but if you look for a more extreme experience and have the equipment, climbing through the snow has a unique charm. To check the schedule and viability of the route you can visit the Park website. Price: CLP 3,000 p/p (USD 4.5)

How to get there by public transport?
From any point of Santiago, take the subway and get off at Manquehue station (line 1 / Red). Outside the station, get on a C01 bus going east and reach the San Enrique Square. For CLP 10,000 (USD 15) Trans-Arrayan taxis take you to the entrance of the park; for CLP 12,000 (USD 18) they will leave you at the Villa Paulina picnic area. It’s a bit expensive, so invite 3 other friends and split the cost.

There is a lot of traffic going to the ski centers during the winter, so it’s easy to hitchhike from the beginning of the Farellones road to the entrance of Yerba Loca.

General recommendations for trekking:

  • Wear shoes that are suitable for walking on slippery ground or over loose stones.
  • Wear appropriate clothing, against heat during Summer and against cold in Winter.
  • Bring clean water. In many places it’s not available.
  • Always take your trash back with you. The trails have a complex and endangered ecosystem, so it’s our responsibility to take care of them.
  • Use sunscreen and a hat, especially in the Summer season.
  • Carry only what’s strictly necessary. Remember you are going to walk a lot, so if you are just passing by Santiago, leave your luggage with one of our keepairs located near a subway station and only carry a small backpack with the essential things you will need during the walk.

Now you are ready to see Santiago from above with no need to get or rent a car. Challenge yourself and enjoy the adventure.

Leave a Reply