Lagunas Altas Trail, Patagonia Park, Chile

Conservación Patagónica is a conservation group whose mission is “to create national parks in Patagonia …

Founded in 2000 by Kristine Tompkins, former CEO of Patagonia, Inc, …

Patagonia Park

I was there near the beginning. Not much to see. A simple visitor centre. Great dreams. 🙂

Patagonia Park is open for hiking now.

Backpacker magazineTomás Dinges Jan 2015 trip report:

My route on the 13.5-mile Lagunas Altas Trail (translation: high lagoons) would take me to the top of a 4,872-foot peak and along a chain of eight lakes high in the southeastern section of the 200,000-acre park. I was far from the dense rainforests of northern Patagonia, but not yet enveloped by the never-ending steppe common to Argentina and southern Chile. Marked with fluorescent ribbons and colored rebar, the trail, like much of the park, was a work in progress. …

“You are walking around a park that you have to yourself,” said McDivitt-Tompkins, founder and president of Conservación Patagonica, the nonprofit organization created to oversee the park’s development. “Just imagine what John Muir felt when he was in Yosemite before it was Yosemite. You are in a place before anybody goes.” …

After 4.5 hours and 3,780-feet of climbing along the Lagunas Altas Trail, I emerged above treeline and onto the bald peak of Cerro Tamanguito. To the north stood the glaciated peaks and snowfields of the Jeinimeni Mountains. Below me were the distinct yellow and coffee-brown landscapes of the Chacabuco Valley I had hiked through. …

Chacabuco Valley
Chacabuco Valley

Applying the U.S. national park model, Conservación Patagonica has developed two campgrounds (with 60 tent sites and eight cook shelters), a lodge, a restaurant, and a new visitor center that’s scheduled to open in early 2015. There are six trails in place, totaling some 77 miles, and crews are busy planning and cutting more every day.

By 2020, Conservación Patagonica hopes to hand the land to the Chilean government to connect the now-separate operations of icy Jeinimeni and forested Tamango and privately held Patagonia Park to create a 610,000-acre Patagonia National Park, a preserve larger than our Great Smoky Mountains National Park. …

First Tracks in Chile’s New Patagonia Park

We’ve added the Lagunas Altas Trail to our list of the best hikes in South America.

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