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

hiking
rocky
scramble
snow
1 month ago

This was a fairly easy hike from the lake to the summit. Hardest part was just below the summit on some very loose soil. Had to stop just below the summit due to a sudden hail storm with lightning. Hiked back out while it was snowing tnen raining.
Sprained my ankle during the hike and had to stop for repairs!

hiking
1 month ago

Made two attempts on this mountain in 2004 and then successful in 2005.
Hardest part was traversing the sandy slope inside the crater.

2 months ago

As others have said, the thin air is tough. did a day tour from Quito, made the refuge after about an hour. if we had an additional hour we would have gone for the glacier, but we were on the schedule of the day your and not yet acclimated to the altitude.

We had a very clear day and not especially cold, but most people wear layers.

We also got to bike down from near the carpark afterward which was really neat although not for people with no biking experience.

Cocoa tea at the refuge gives a nice boost for $2.50

Recommended

3 months ago

Awesome and challenging hike! I think the elevation is for summiting Cotopaxi, which is no longer allowed. We hiked about 600 meters in elevation from the carpark to the bottom of the glacier. That said, not all cars can make it to the carpark and you'll see lines of cars on the side of the road leading up to the main carpark, so hiking distance and elevations will vary. Lots to cover here but I'll summarize:

HIKE
One of the most unique and toughest hikes I've ever done, and I'm an avid hiker. You don't necessarily need to be in top shape to do this as you biggest challenge is not the hike itself but the elevation, it will have you sucking wind in minutes as you start your hike, from the carpark, at ~15,000 feet. Still, I would highly recommend doing this once in a lifetime hike regardless of your skill level, because even simply hiking to the refuge (~800 feet from the carpark) has some epic views. If you have the strength, definitely take the extra 260 meter climb from the refuge to the bottom of the glacier for the best views. Plus, entrance to the park is also free.

TIMING
If you can't go in the morning don't bother. We arrived at 8am sharp when the park opened, reached the refuge (driving to carpark + hiking) at 930am and the place was already getting busy. By the time we left at noon the place was an absolute zoo, and it wasn't even high season or good weather, though it was a weekend.

TRANSPORTATION
If you're driving, it is absolutely worth investing in a car with some more power as the last thousand meters or so take some horsepower. I had a small SUV, and even then we came 300 meters short of the main parking lot (albeit during a wet and icy day). Cars of all types made it within about 1km of the carpark though, so even if you have a smaller car you can get close if you can handle a manual transmission. All that said, the road to the Cotopaxi carpark is brutal, unpaved garbage. Expect 45-60 mins of road that is fairly unpleasant. I do not say this to deter, it is absolutely worth it still and you can make this in a smaller vehicle, I witnessed plenty, but want to set some expectations. Patience and calm will be critical.

CLOTHING
I'd recommend 2-3 layers up top and 2 below. It was freezing, but because your body is working at such extremes I was in single layers by the time I reached the glacier. After a couple stationary mins I was ready again for layer #2.

hiking
3 months ago

more than 5000 meters above sea level. I made it up to the glacier with a guide. you need another specialized guide and equipment to go through the glacier and reach the summit.

hiking
4 months ago

Hello everyone did this hike about 2 weeks ago, I was born in ecuador but grew up in the USA so it was a treat to hike a motherland mountain! I also didn’t make it to the summit as per Ecuadorean law you must have a guide for the summit but I made it to the refuge. I am a pretty avid hiker I live in Utah USA so altitude is not an issue, but the treeking from the parking lot was hard with some much thin air , I had to stop several times as mainly got a bad headache . Also depending on weather it gets chilly on the trail but weather changes so rapidly!! When I went up it was very foggy, the refuge was very nice and cozy! Got some great pics of the glacier, the descent was easier to me and I was able to take the switchbacks faster, as it is not slippery at all! Of course use precaution when coming down. After we left the car lot the sun came out and it made it for a great picture taking of the volcano so beautiful! Def recommend this trail as a day hike! The refuge has Website and Facebook page if you want to book a guide or just stay in their bunks.

on Quilotoa Loop

hiking
9 months ago

Sadly could not complete this trail as it was unbelievably windy and turned back, but stunning scenery and Lake, will be back, be prepared for wind chill factor of note.

I love Cotopaxi. I’ve always wanted to climb it even last year (where I came so unprepared). I didn’t even make it to the Refugio. This time we signed up with two guides to try to reach to the top. Weather in June is not great. Terrible winds (maybe 40-50 miles per hour). Super intense. I still didn’t make it to the top. The Refugio is nice and clean. They definitely have TP. Although toilets don’t flush but at least they have buckets of (glacier) water so u can use them to flush the toilets yourself. For those that climb the mountain at night they have nice rooms with bunk beds to sleep. They provided dinner ( nice corn soup). Although, I didn’t summit again this time, it was a great experience and I will try it again hopefully next year.

Loved it. Incredible view from the top as well as from the bottom of the mountain . We left early in the am ( 6:45am) and reach the bottom in 45 min. Climbing up took us 1:45 min .

I love Cotopaxi. I’ve always wanted to climb it even last year (where I came so unprepared). I didn’t even make it to the Refugio. This time we signed up with two guides to try to reach to the top. Weather in June is not great. Terrible winds (maybe 40-50 miles per hour). Super intense. I still didn’t make it to the top. The Refugio is nice and clean. They definitely have TP. Although toilets don’t flush but at least they have buckets of (glacier) water so u can use them to flush the toilets yourself. For those that climb the mountain at night they have nice rooms with bunk beds to sleep. They provided dinner ( nice corn soup) although I didn’t summit again this time, I will try it again hopefully next year.

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
rocky
scramble
10 months ago

Did this hike backwards from the traditional way (Quilotoa to Chugchilan)! IT was absolutely beautiful and much easier this way although, the reward of the lake at the end was not there for us, we still had a wonderful time!

on Cotopaxi Trek

hiking
10 months ago

Visited at the end of April 2018. Did not trek to the summit. You need a guide to do so. Did a day hike. Took the Zig Zag trail up to Jose Rivas Refuge and continued on to the Lower Glacier. Quite strenuous due to the high altitude! Not steep, no rock scrambling or anything, just thin air. The slightest movements take effort. Elevation is around 15,000 ft when you start the trail at the parking lot. Never really saw the sun on our hike, clouds rolled in and out (which was neat), got snowed on for about 25 minutes on the way up, but yes, we did see the summit on several brief occasions- magnificent! Loose pebbles on the way down. I slipped and fell a few times. Our hike was 2.6 miles roundtrip, took us almost 4 hours- 1 hour of which was spent chilling out at the refuge and over by the glacier. At the refuge, we used the bathroom (no TP, toilet did not flush) and got our passports stamped inside. Crowded inside, drinks/snacks available, lots of flags hanging on walls- people sign them. We drove up and entered the park via the north entrance- it was sunny along the way, bumpy road, incredibly scenic. Saw llamas and wild horses too! Overall, great experience! Prior to this hike, we did one acclimating hike at Pasochoa (did not reach the summit) and spent one other day in Banos. We were definately effected by the altitude on this Cotopaxi hike. We both felt swimmy-headed and fatigued from the get go. Stuffy nose, massive headache on the way down. I suppose it doesn't help that we are from the flat lands of Florida!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Very beautiful. It often rains in the mid-afternoon during rainy-season, so try to plan starting your hike in the morning. Locals say hike takes 4-5hrs.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Extremely difficult. Plan 2-3 hours for ascent.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Excellent trail with some steep slopes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

ModerAte to hard. It gets to 3900 meters high about 12700. Steep ups and difficult ascents but doable. Beautiful views of the crater. It’s hard to believe but they are farming to this altitude.

hiking
Thursday, August 17, 2017

It is important to stress that my hike include ONLY going to the Jose F. Ribas Refuge at an elevation of 4800m and NOT to the summit of Cotopaxi.
The weather can be unpredictable as it was sunny and warm at the carpark and cold, wet, and rainy on the trail. Some type of head protection, and gloves are helpful. The trail is not technically difficult, but the effects of the altitude on the body become evident rather quickly. Trekking poles are a help. You can take the trail straight up (which is what the locals do) or you can be like us gringos and take the trail with the switchbacks. The smell of sulfur on the air is a gentle reminder that this is an active volcano.
The Refuge offers hot chocolate and a place to rest, but not much else. It is the "base camp" for the summit treks, from what I understand. Photo op with the flag and sign. The route is very heavily trafficked as most of the locals come here - especially on the weekends.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

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