Arenal Observatory Lodge Trail is a 6.1 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near San Carlos, Alajuela, Costa Rica that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 6.1 km Elevation Gain: 167 m Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

fee

The Arenal Observatory Lodge is the only resort in La Fortuna to be located within Arenal Volcano National Park known for putting visitors right in the middle of pristine rainforest habitat that is up close and personal with the famous Arenal Volcano. The Arenal Volcano last erupted in 1968 but has been in a resting dormant phase since 2010 and is carefully monitored. Staying at the lodge grants you free access to all trails. Visitors can pay $10 per person for access to all 7 miles of the network of trails on property. The resort property has a network of trails taking hikers through open grasslands, woodlands, and rainforests with commanding and spectacular views of volcanoes Arenal and Cerro Chato along the way. Trails are well marked and loop back around to the lodge reception and observatory deck. There is a 0.5 mile paved trail through a portion of the rainforest and gardens. The observatory lodge trails connect directly to the tough hike up to the beautiful volcanic lake and laguna atop the volcano Cerro Chato. The Arenal Volcano National Park is known for showcasing some of the best birding in the world including toucans, umbrella birds, woodpeckers, trogons, oropendolas, hummingbirds, owls, and more with over 500 species identified in their forest. Mammals in the park include anteater, gray fox, coatimundi, paca, peccary, monkeys, ocelot, red brocket deer, and more.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. You can go on the hike even if you are not staying at the hotel there. Cost us $12 per person to get in. There are several trail options of different lengths. We did the observation tower loop first. Very tall tower about 10 stories high. Lots of stairs. Then we hiked to the waterfall. Lovely and you are allowed to swim there. They have a couple of beautiful bridges. Circling back was on some rather boring roads. I’d rather treat it like an out and back once you cross the 2 main bridges

hiking
fee
no shade
private property
2 months ago

For me there are two main reasons to hike in this area: 1. to see animals in their natural habitat 2. amazing views of the Volcano. Unfortunately, majority of the trails are through or along the outer edge of a cow pasture!! So no animals to see and if the weather doesn’t cooperate forget about volcano views. I suggest skipping this trail and pay $12 for a trail that actually has you walking in the jungle. I was so disappointed and the observatory deck is tiny and of course worthless when there are clouds. There are 4 waterfalls. One was nice with people swimming in it. two were more like a little stream (very little) over an embankment and the 4th is seasonal which was completely dry (Jan 5th). I would not recommend anyone to hike this trail unless they are just looking for steps for their Fitbit. Two stars are for the one waterfall.

hiking
muddy
private property
3 months ago

There are many outdoor activities to choose from in the Arenal area but my friend and I were looking for some longer hiking trails. It seemed like most of the outdoor activities around La Fortuna were out of our budget and too short of a distance. A local recommended the observatory, and it’s absolutely gorgeous and totally worth the $12 (per person). You can access over 5 miles of hiking trails and see several waterfalls. Even though we didn’t go to any of the other ecotourism parks it seems like this one is the best bang for your buck. Especially if you’re looking to do some longer hikes in the area. We finished up with a delicious dinner in the cafe and used the WiFi to plan our next move. I highly recommend this area for anyone looking to see Arenal and all the area has to offer. I would also recommend stopping at the free hot springs near Tabacon before you go. We went early in the morning and had the place all to ourselves.

hiking
5 months ago

Easy to moderate hike challenge depending on expert level. Danta waterfall is strong, and great spot for photos. Danta hanging bridge is simple starter in height for anything of greater heights. Best part of the hike is Arenal Volcano in every backdrop!

hiking
7 months ago

Great views of the volcano. Easy well manicured trails. Saw some animals. .

hiking
Fri Jan 04 2019

Great trail with family

Sun Jul 22 2018

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

Sun Apr 01 2018

Great hike for animal watching.

hiking
Mon Mar 26 2018

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.

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Tue Mar 05 2019

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