The Arenal Volcano National Park is a fantastic tourist destination in Costa Rica and the volcano itself ranks as one of the most spectacular sights in the nation. It was one of Costa Rica’s most active volcanoes in the last fifty years.
Climbing the volcano itself is prohibited, however hiking trails in the Arenal Volcano National Park affords visitors the opportunity to explore old lava fields, walk around the volcano’s base, and hike through the rainforest.
Hiking in Arenal Volcano National Park: Tips
The best time to experience hiking at the Arenal Volcano is from February to April: the weather tends to be dry at this time of year and the trails are most likely to be open. Wet conditions during the rest of the year can make trails inaccessible, dangerous, and they may even be closed.
There are a number of trails to hike in the national park around Arenal Volcano:
• Main Lookout: this sandy path of just 1.3km is an easy walk from the ranger station through forest and pasture to a lookout to view lava flow remains. Viewing time at the designated lookout is restricted to 20 minutes.
• Los Heliconias: an easy, narrow trail of just 1km, it navigates between the ranger station and the Las Coladas Trail through lush forest with wild orchids, hummingbirds, butterflies, and other native bird species.
• Las Coladas: a great way to get closer to the volcano, the trail ends at the volcano’s base and you can walk over the old lava fields. See orchids, lizards, and volcanic debris. There is a staircase climb at the end and viewing at the end is limited to 20 minutes for safety reasons.
• El Ceibo: this easy 1.8km trail is a loop that begins and ends on the Las Coladas Trail. It’s ideal for nature lovers with a wealth of plant and wildlife, as well as a 400-year-old Ceibo tree that makes a great photo opportunity.
• Los Tucanes: a longer trail, this begins at the end of Las Coladas and follows a rainforest loop to Rio Agua Caliente; you may take the lava trail extension to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. This trail is periodically closed so check with the ranger first.
• Los Miradores: this easy, mostly flat 1.2km trail meanders to give panoramic views of Lake Arenal as well as the volcano, traversing through the rainforest to the shore of the lake. There is plenty of wildlife to potentially see on this trail.
• Cerro Chato: this hard and strenuous hike takes you to the dormant volcano of Cerro Chato. The trail is accessible from the Arenal Observatory Lodge and is a steep, eroded track of 3.2km. You may decide to cool off in the crater lake!
• Lava Vieja Trail at Arenal Observatory Lodge – situated within the boundary of the national park, the Arenal Observatory Lodge provides access to 11km of hiking trails for a daily fee. The Lava Vieja Trail is one of these; it is a strenuous and challenging hike of 2km that follows the Rio Agua Caliente (river) to the old lava fields. Howler monkeys reside in the trees along this trail.
Contact us at Costa Rica Volcanoes for Arenal Volcano tours and advice. We look forward to hearing from you!