Explore Costa Rica - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Costa Rica Map
VIEW FULL MAP

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
1 month 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

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
3 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
3 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!!

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.

5 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

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!

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.

FYI closed on Monday. We tried to hike and were threatened by the local “security guard” as he insisted we pay him $15 per person. Total shakedown.

hiking
10 months ago

Didn’t make it all the way. Torrential rain at the second barb wire caused us to turn back. Hiking boots and rain gear essential ( which we didn’t have). Do not recommend if rain in the forecast as trail becomes extremely slippery in that many parts of the trail are covered in small streams making transversing the barb wires downright dangerous. We’d try again with the right equipment. Overall great views. The government putting up the barb wires to discourage hikers is somewhat an oxymoron You’d think there would be more economic benefit by encouraging hikers vs discouraging.

hiking
10 months ago

lots of fun!! there wasn't a good view when we went cause of the rain and fog.. but pretty epic day! there are 3 barbwire fences that you have to walk around while going up.. and when you get to the top.. theres a view to the right.. then follow the trail to the left to get down to the lake. we ran half of it.. so the whole hike to the lake and back took 1hr 45min

One of my favorite hikes

hiking
Sunday, July 30, 2017

awesome hike. challenging but beautiful. hiked on an overcast day but still offered beautiful views. trail can be muddy and slippery and at times requires use of your hands especially down to the lake at the top.

hiking
Friday, July 14, 2017

great hike!! very tough and steep on the way up, took about 2 hours at a fast pace. at the top we took a ridiculous steep downhill path to get to the lake ( there may be an easier way ), very muddy but the lake is worth it! make sure to go on a clear day, we wemt on cloudy day, couldnt see much.

hiking
Friday, July 14, 2017

Absolutely stunning. We left from the park visitor center side and had the entire trail practically to ourselves. We were in good physical shape, but relatively new to long, strenuous hikes. This is one of them, but the refreshing (and cold) dip at the end makes it worth it.

hiking
Sunday, July 02, 2017

The full hike up to volcano lake is steep but worth it for the views, swim, and accomplishment. This trail is closed off and most local hiking guides will not be permitted to take you to the top of this trail per recent government regulations. The complete hike took us 6 hours total with a break to swim in the lake and visit the waterfall. The trail gets steep going up and coming down. We circled around part of the volcano top to climb up a wall and then scramble down the other side to reach a farm that lead to views from an observation deck at a resort. Waterproof hiking boots, rain gear, food and plenty of water are recommended. Also this hike is not recommended for novice hikers.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

We hiked from the waterfall side. First mile was a gradual assent. Then the scramble begins. Good boots made the hike as did poles. We hiked down into the caldera, more of a climb. Loved the hike

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Amazing strenuous hike well worth the views of Arenal (on a clear day) and the green lagoon!

hiking
Wednesday, February 08, 2017

This climb is a must-do if visiting Costa Rica. You have to pay a small fee to hike up, but totally worth it. Bring lots of water, the trail is steep and humid in the rainforest. Don't miss swimming in the crater at the top before hiking back down. It is secluded and eerily beautiful.

hiking
Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Good hike through different vegetation to a gorgeous blue waterfall begging you to jump in. Bring the swim suits!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

We arrived at the trailhead - met someone walking by that stopped and asked for our ticket. In Spanish we were directed to the adjacent hotel. The front desk indicated there is a $12 USD per person to hike the trail the nearby trail. The adjacent waterfall is $14 per person plus $12 for this out and back. They will take USD, Colones, or credit card.

hiking
Monday, November 21, 2016

One of my favorite all time hikes! It was definitely tough, I had to stop multiple times on our climb up to rest and catch my breath...but definitely worth it. I also enjoyed the fact that we didn't see many people on the trail.

hiking
Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hike up from Green Lagoon Wellbeing Resort. My husband and I did this last April. It was an amazing experience and well worth the effort. I will say it is NOT moderate in our opinion. It gets VERY steep, but we took our time. Not for the faint hearted.

hiking
Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Starts off easy but gets steeper further in. It can be pretty tricky to get down into the lake in the crater especially if it's muddy but it's well worth it for the swim. This was a moderately challenging hike that took about 6 hours return to complete including an hour stop for a swim. There was a parking lot and helpful guide working at the bottom to give us some insight and map.

Load More