Notebooks from a trampfest. Travel tips, tales and images, online since 2006.

Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail – El Chalten Day Hike 2

Hiking the Laguna Torre Trail, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Laguna Torre Trail

Trailhead: El Chalten, Argentina
Duration: Approximately three-and-a-half hours to Laguna Torre, one way; distance about 10km (6.2mi), one way
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Elevation gain: about 250m (820ft)

Like the Mt. Fitz Roy Trail I posted about a few days ago, this one too is an easy day trip from El Chalten, Argentina’s trekking capital. It too will lead you through an incredibly wide array of landscapes during the four-hour hike towards Laguna Torre, a serene glacier-fed lake which calmly sits at the base of the mountain that gives it its name. And like the Fitz Roy Trail, this one should also be a priority during your visit to El Chalten.

Like other day hikes through Los Glaciares National Park, this one is popular. But you won’t feel overrun by people. Even in early February –still peak season– I ran into no more than 15 people over the course of the 21-kilometer hike.

Sendero Laguna Torre 1Sendero Laguna Torre 5 Sendero Laguna Torre 4

You’ll of course see Torre’s dramatic peak well before you reach the laguna. For much of the hike, the 3,128m (10,262 ft)-high spire will be your guide, even if it spends the entire time hidden behind clouds; on my day, it, well, wasn’t my day. I never saw the peak clearly, even during the late morning portion when the skies were clear.

The weather shifted quickly and dramatically about two hours in, so much so that I almost turned back. I hid under a large tree instead to watch a rapid rain lightly bathe a wide valley. The shower didn’t last long, but the clouds and a chill remained for much of the rest of the day.

Sendero Laguna Torre 3
Fitz Roy River, near El Chalten, Argentina

Trailhead

There are two trails marked for Laguna Torre from near the center of El Chalten. They converge some 5-10 minutes from town, so it doesn’t matter where you start. The trail is well-marked and maintained throughout so there’s no need for a map other than the one you’ll pick up at the visitors center on your way into town.

The initial part of the trail follows the Fitz Roy River valley upstream. Just 20 minutes into the walk you’ll reach the Cascada Margarita viewpoint with the waterfall on your left just across the river. From here you’ll have your first nice panorama of Cerro Terro and its range.

Sendero Laguna Torre 7 Sendero Laguna Torre 8

Sendero Laguna Torre 12
Don’t get too close. The Torre River, near Cerro Torre

First sightings of Cerro Torre

The main ascent is on the way to the Cerro Torre Mirador, about an hour and a half from the start. The views are spectacular, even on a partly cloudy day. At this point, most of the 200m (656ft) elevation gain will be behind you. After a short descent, the walk levels off significantly for the next hour-and-a-half, taking you through a wide valley where windswept landscapes and dry water run-off beds abound. One large swathe about 45 minutes from the laguna (pictured below), was covered with dried dead trees, lending an eerie, otherworldly feel to the area.

As you near the laguna, you’ll watch and listen to the raging Torre River on your left. The power the sound represents is invigorating and humbling. For a short while the trail winds through a forest before it turns to scree at the edge of the Laguna. From here it’s just a short upwards scamper to the shore.

Sendero Laguna Torre 11

Sendero Laguna Torre 10

Spending the night is possible; the free DeAgostini campsite is located near the lake. If you want really good photos of Cerro Torre and its neighbors rising with the sun is really your only option. That’s enough of a reason to return.

Below, for my small but growing Field Guides section, some unique (to me) plants and shrubs, and a red bee I’ve never seen before. Any specific IDs will be very much appreciated.

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Next up: A little more from Laguna Torre itself and the Glaciar Grande, coming Saturday or Sunday (1 or 2 Mar).

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Sendero Laguna Torre 9
Barba de Viejo, or Old Man’s Beard (Usnea)
Sendero Laguna Torre 15
(Usnea)
Sendero Laguna Torre 14
(Usnea)

Sendero Laguna Torre 16 Sendero Laguna Torre 13 Sendero Laguna Torre 2

 

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  1. frankaboutcroatia says

    Stunning scenery, Bob! And beautiful photos. And with only 200 m elevation, looks like a hike that even I can do 🙂

    1. Bob R says

      I’m sure you’d manage just fine. 🙂 The hardest part was actually the long flat part. It dragged on a bit but getting to the lake was VERY much worth it.

  2. Gabor Kovacs says

    I saw that you had similar experience to what we had when we did this track in the sense that the “towers” never really came out of the clouds. It is still a beautiful track and the bright colors of your photo took us to a nice walk in this beautiful land. Patagonia is amazing, I hope we can go back there once!

    1. Bob R says

      Same here. Patagonia is screaming to me, ‘Come back, come back!’ I’m going to have to listen to those screams one day. 🙂

  3. Chris Boothman says

    These are some really spectacular shots Bob!! What an amazing trail this looks like. I have yet to venture to this part of the world and its intriguing when you read posts like this to certainly encourage you to head there.

    1. Bob R says

      There is no shortage of beautiful hikes in that corner of the world. If/when you do head to Patagonia, you really do need to set aside a longer period of time. At the very least a couple weeks, but much longer if at all possible.

  4. […] Check out the previous two posts from this series: ~ Hiking Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Trail: El Chalten Day Hike 1 ~ Patagonia’s Laguna Torre Trail – El Chalten Day Hike 2 […]

  5. Sam | Travelling King says

    As always beautiful scenery Bob!! I love your photography!
    Interesting “wildlife” the bee – not sure i would have been game to get too close! haha

    1. Bob R says

      I’m still trying to get a positive identification on that bee. Haven’t found anything conclusive on a bee of that color. It’s kinda bothering me. 🙂

  6. Angela Travels says

    I have been enjoying your posts about hiking in El Chalten. I was only there for a couple of days and was only able to do one day hike. It is nice to know the amount of hiking trails around the area for my next visit 🙂

    1. Bob R says

      There are quite a few. I managed to save at least a couple for my return trip. 🙂

  7. Ashley @ A Southern Gypsy says

    Gorgeous photos as usual! I’m really jealous of this–beautiful scenery and hiking trails!

  8. Leigh says

    I can definitely see myself on this trail as well. The weather looks pretty good for this part of the world but I’m not a lover of big winds so any visit to Patagonia must boil down to luck.
    Beautiful photos.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks – I was fairly luck over all. More good weather than not. As for the wind, well, you can try to get used to it. 🙂

Thoughts?

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