Take a memorable hike to Laguna Torre from El Chalten

If El Chalten is part of your Patagonia itinerary, you’ll no doubt be in town for two popular hikes: Laguna de los Tres and Laguna Torre.

Take this moderate hike from El Chalten to Laguna Torre to see Cerro Torre in all it’s glory while you’re in southern Argentina.

We’re here during late autumn, when the leaves are falling from the trees and the town is quiet as winter inches closer in Patagonia. In the morning we eat a hearty breakfast at Patagonia Hostel, and leave the hostel at 9am to start the 18km-return hike to Laguna Torre.

Looking over the town of El Chalten at sunrise on the way to the Laguna Torre trailhead.

Finding the Laguna Torre trailhead

Even using the map, it took us a little while to find the trailhead – which is on the southwest end of town. We ended up following other hikers, and thankfully they were doing the same walk as us.

The trailhead can be found at a junction between Los Charitos, Los Huemules and Llao Llao streets. You’ll see lots of parked cars if you’re there in peak season. It’s the start of May, and it’s very quiet in town.

Follow the orange trail to Laguna Torre.

What to expect hiking to Laguna Torre

Supposedly this hike is longer in distance but much easier than the Laguna de los Tres hike, which has a lot more elevation gain and a rock scramble. The beginning of the hike is easy as it weaves beside Rio Fitz Roy which is gushing down the valley.

Looking at the barren hills on the first section of the Laguna Torre hike.
Barren landscape on the Laguna Torre hike is very different to what we saw on the Laguna de los Tres hike.
Mirador del Cerro Torre -

When we reach Mirador del Cerro Torre we begin to descend through the forest, where there’s very little foliage left on the trees. As we walk through the twigs we hear a cracking sound, and look to see a woodpecker with a red mohawk pecking away at a tree.

The trail is much easier than we expected, and it’s mostly flat aside from a few small hills. It’s cloudy but not windy, and we’re grateful for the kind Patagonian weather after experiencing some serious wind on the W trek a few days earlier.

Walking along the boardwalk as we get closer to Laguna Torre.

We arrive at Laguna Torre at 12pm and fire up the portable camping stove to cook a packet of mac n cheese – which is slowly becoming our favourite hiking meal in Patagonia. The lake is brown and murky from the sediment, but the icebergs floating in the lake are majestic, especially when the sun comes out.

Milly eats mac n cheese at Laguna Torre.
You may not agree with packaged meals, but this $1 meal is absolutely a trip highlight.

Feeling sweaty from the hike, after stopping for just a few minutes we begin to feel the wrath of the cold air blowing off the glacial lake and pop our jackets and beanies back on.

Mark sits and looks at the glacier.
You can continue hiking an extra 2km to Mirador Maestri, which is above the dirt to the right hand side of this picture.
The sun finally peaks through and lights up the icebergs.
The sun finally peaks through and lights up the icebergs at Laguna Torre.
These hiking boots have seen better days.

We leave Laguna Torre at 1pm and slowly hike back to El Chalten – basically with the trail to ourselves, singing loudly along the way. I can imagine how busy this trail must be in the warmer months, and I’m really glad we made the decision to travel to Patagonia in May.

We get back to Patagonia hostel at around 4pm and cook dinner in the communal kitchen.

Before bed, we made a hot chocolate and ate some cookies, agreeing we will return to El Chalten again one day.

Trip notes for the Laguna Torre hike

  • When you get to Laguna Torre, there is an option to continue hiking for approximately another 2km (one way) up to Mirador Maestri
  • There is an option to link the Laguna Torre and Laguna de los Tres hikes with a 43km loop hike, but you will need to carry your own camping gear and stay at the campsites (Poincenot Campground and Agostini Campground). The campsites are free, so it works on a first in first served basis
  • Pack sufficient food and water, and layer up in case it’s windy or rain swoops in
  • If you’re elderly or hiking with young children, you could opt for the much shorter hike to Mirador Cascada Margarita (approximately a 3km return hike) where you can see over the valley and on a clear day you’ll be able to see Cerro Torre from a distance.

February 16, 2024

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