Explore the most popular Parks in Costa Rica with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Checked in at the green lagoon to get passes, ten dollars per person. Had to go around the barb wire fence.
Challenging hike lots of climbing, took us 4h total at a fast pace. It rained the whole time and it became slippery on the way down. Worth the hike but dont expect the view in bad weather.

hiking
11 days ago

Recently had the pleasure of completing the longer loop. Moderate trail. Was able to see tucans, howler monkeys, wild turkeys, and tarantulas galore! Was not the clearest day ever to get the best views of the volcano itself, but still well worth the trip!

Great hike. Make sure you have good shoes because it will get slippery. Bring plenty of water.

awesome but hard trail. it gets more difficult step by step. as we started laid, the crater it self was filled with clouds.
paid 10$. no problem to enter national park.

Awesome hike! If you want to escape from the too easy, touristy hikes, do this one! It is a little hard but very fun. Bring proper shoes though.

The guard was not there today so we were able to hike all the way to the crater!! It was so foggy that we could not see to the other side, but awesome to say we swam in the crater of a volcano! You pay $10 per person at the hotel near Arenal Observatory then hike the Fortuna Observatory trail. You will cross to the illegal part of the hike once you go through the opening of the barbed wire. You can also start this hike from the La Fortuna waterfall which is $15 a person and a shorter hike I believe.

We had heard that Cerro Chato was closed but decided to give it a try we decided to go through Arenal Observatory Lodge, we were warned hiking Cerro Chato was illegal and would not give us information. But we found our way, unfortunately they have a guard at their property line to turn people back so we weren't able to go up. Seems like Cerro Chato is no longer an option in Arenal.

Wild hike!!

hiking
2 months ago

Lots of steps up to the top, the fog was over the lake so I couldn't see it but it was a very fun trial really accessible from town about an hour each way

The longer loop was a good trek. It is easy to follow and passable for almost any skill level, including one on our group who had a hip replacement less than 6 months ago.

This was by far the hardest hike I have ever done, but it was so worth it. I recommend going in the water of the lagoon. The feeling of the ice cold water after the long hike was refreshing not to mention pretty exciting knowing we are in a volcanic lagoon!!

One of my all time favorites. We got here early in the morning during rainy season. Trek up was very difficult because of how slippery and muddy everything was, but the elements made it more enjoyable honestly. The views from the top were beautiful and then you take a pretty steep hike down to the crater. We got down to it, a lot of fog was rolling in and it made for a super eerie yet serene setting.

hiking
4 months ago

Went hiking here because was ranked as the most challenging hike, best reviews in Costa Rica. So obviously this was my first choice. Prior to this my most difficult hikes were mount Wilson and Southern California and Half Dome with cables in Yosemite as day hikes. We got about a mile from our car and it started pouring and never stopped. In these conditions it’s pretty dangerous to say the least as you’re on your hands and knees basically crawling up the base of a stream as water is pouring down on you and you’re reaching for wet roots for an anchor. It’s basically insane. Was definitely an experience but It should be better mentioned to check the weather first. We had all the rain gear and it was still brutal. My companion also isn’t a regular hiker, I started hearing the “I’m done” at about the halfway point, which obviously turns you into a motivational speaker/life coach at the same time, adding to your problems. I knew we were done when about another .1 miles later I started hearing the token “just leave me behind!” Ha. So we turned back at about half way, I could have kept going but it was very dangerous.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked to the crater, took a dip (July 31st), and had amazing weather! We were lucky, as most hikes this time of year are fraught with rain. But I digress... here’s the nuts and bolts of the hike.
GETTING THERE: Park in the lot secured by a yellow gate (tell the gatekeeper you’re climbing Cerro Chato) and go into the “Reception” building. You’ll have to pay $10 a person to hike on the private land in order to get to the park. Once all paid up you’ll follow orange arrows on a road until it breaks off onto a muddy trail. Shortly thereafter you’ll walk around a giant “No Trespassing” sign and barbed wire fence to enter Volcán Arenal state land. This sounds weird, I know.
THE TRAIL: Now the steep starts. What was once a class 1 walk in the park is now a class 2 with hands necessary to climb up roots and mud canyons as you make your way to the rim. This isn’t awful, and actually a lot of fun. The only way I wouldn’t want to experience this is in an extreme rain storm (picture Dennis Nedry slipping on cascading water as a Dilophosaurus stalks him to his Jeep). Take your time... look at the forest, flowers, and leafcutter ants along the way. Fun fact, leafcutter ants can lift twenty times their body weight. Eat that Dwayne Johnson.
CRATER RIM: Once at the top you’ll reach a T intersection. Turn right and you’ll come to an incredible viewpoint of Arenal. From there you’ll find a small trail to your left that opens up and descends a class 3 route to the lake. Watch your footing, it’s steep! Once at the lake strip down, take a dip, and become a Mosasaurus snack. Honestly, no better way to go. ENJOY!!

Great for families as it’s mostly flat but gets you into the forest seeing animals and waterfalls.

Nice steep excursion to this mountain lake. Likely to be socked in during the rainy season meaning you may glimpse the full lake only briefly if at all. Saw a coral snake on the ascent. It’s possible to connect to another Cerro Chato trail which originates at the Arenal observatory resort. Do this by heading left instead of right upon reaching the top.

Dont listen to other posters, you can still hike this. Just finished going to the green lagoon at the top of cerro chato 7/9/18. It has rained several days in a row and it rained the entire hike but it was worth it. I did the salkantay in peru a month ago and although this cant compare in distance or altitude it was at times more intense. be prepared to slip and fall and use your hands to climb. I did not use a guide and had a friend who doesn't hike much and we made it to the lagoon in 1 hour and 50 minutes. most hikes I halve the time up on the way down but on this one it took us longer down. it is much more treacherous going down. some places they have ropes for you to lower yourself down. definitely do this hike. it's great. we had planned on going from the arenal observatory but right before you get there there is a parking lot with a big sign. the guy there will give you a map and only charges you $10 per person. he was very nice and will actually guide you to the top of arenal which is also closed.

hiking
5 months ago

Very fun and very steep. At the top, we tried to follow the trail to the right, but it was a lot like bushwhacking and sliding down a mountain. (maybe we missed the trail?) The trail to the left was much more reasonable and led to a beach that we had all to ourselves. Hard work but worth it.

6 months ago

Great hike. First step is to pay reception guy at Green Lodge. He will point you in the right direction. The first part of the hike is fairly civilized and then dives into the jungle for a potentially muddy jaunt up. Veer to the left anytime you see barbed wire and you should be able to just go around. Walk down to the crater is as treacherous as advertised. We found that using a walking stick as a third point of support helped a ton. Lagoon is gorgeous. You'll be exhausted when you get back but you won't regret it. Just make sure the forecast is dry and you have good shoes. Never boring, never monotonous. Loved this hike.

incredible! the lake so is senrene and peaceful. I recommend you to bring snacks and plenty of water. it took us about 2 hours to get to the summit and 1 hour to get back

There is two path you can follow. The red one is the shorter ans the easier and leads you directly to the lava flow. The yellow is longer and a little more difficult and leads you to beautiful points of view. Both of the trails starts at the same point. Along the way you can see monkeys, lizards and many birds. Very nice trail. I suggest to save the panorama (where there is a little coffee shop) for the end. Can be slippery when raining.

hiking
8 months ago

I was invited by one of the locals to come here. Now I left with a colorful gallery of birds, breathtaking views, exotic plants, and more! However I had to travel about 7 miles. Despite that, I ended my visit to Costa Rica with a bang!

The most incredible hike I have have ever been on! Highly highly recommend. We used google maps to get us to the start of the trail, once we got to the gazebo the trail is very obvious from there to the top (we had to go under a barbed wire fence to find the trail at the start). At the top we had a hard time finding the trail down to the lake. Some hikers leaving the volcano pointed it out to us. It is steep, but if you’re fit it’s very worth it. We came out looking like we rolled around in mud (and at times on this trail we probably did). But one of our favorite days in CR by far. Enjoy!

Peaceful hike and probably the best view of volcano along with lava rocks.

nature trips
8 months ago

Right next to the Caribbean sea. You'll see animals galore .Couple of stream crossings and a definitely dip in the Caribbean sea.

Great hike for animal watching.

walking
8 months ago

Stayed at the observatory lodge in February 2016. The facilities were really nice but what made it truly fantastic was the resort was located already in the Arenal Volcano National Park. Saw owls by night and toucans and amazing rainforest birds by day (mostly around sunrise). The trails around the property were really well maintained and very quiet for the most part (maybe timing of our visit). There were really cool hanging bridges to cross over through the rainforest, beautiful gardens, open prairies with crazy views of Arenal in the background sooo close by, and an awesome waterfall you could walk down to just off the trail. The observatory lodge trails are all easy to moderate. The trail to hike up Cerro Chato volcano was pretty difficult and muddy (quick elevation gain in a short distance) but the view up top of the lake in the middle was beautiful.

A nice walk with some decent views of the volcano. Not sure if it would be worth the money back home, but on vacation, it’s a cheap activity that is gratifying.

awesome! go first thing to have the waterfall/blue lagoon to yourself (or mostly) :) took me about 1.5 hours to get there with plenty of quick stops to check for monkies.

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