My feet are still throbbing after 7 solid hours of hiking over loose rocks, wobbly logs and soft snow. An arduous but rewarding trek in middle Chile amongst dense forests, glacial rivers, boulder-laden trails and finishing with an eerie summit not unlike a lunar landscape. It turns out hiking Enladrillado is as difficult to climb as it is to pronounce!
Enladrillado is located within Reserva Nacional Altos de Lircay about 60km west of Talca and the main Ruta 5 highway. We were headed south on our 2-month Chilean road trip and took a short jaunt out into the wilderness to attempt the first of many hikes as we travel south through Patagonia.
First attempt – Sendaro El Paine
In our haste to get on the road in our recently purchased Toyota 4Runner we’d not had time to research the area too heavily. Arriving into a nearby campsite of Los Nogalles we had little to no information of what was to come. A late start on the first day had as postpone Enladrillado to the following day and instead hike up the steep but smaller Sendaro El Peine. On it’s own a decent 3-hour return hike and we were rewarded with a cooling waterfall at the top of the trail. A perfect warm-up for the following day.
We moved camps to be a little closer to the start early on the second day, this time camping inside the National Reserve itself. We parked up and quickly headed out to the trail. The trail markings indicated Enladrillado was a 10km hike and 4 hours. the question remained was this the one-way or return distance and timings? Only time would tell!
An hour of hiking along a wide 4WD fire trail had us arrive at a trail junction. We contemplated taking the Laguna trail which arrives at a lake inside an extinct volcano’s crater, located at a lofty 2000m. However, a weathered paper note stuck to the signpost indicated ‘Ruta Cerrada’ meaning the route was closed. Hard to determine how official this was but with no way of knowing, we continued on our intended route up Enladrillado.
The trail quickly turned to a single track which ran over numerous gushing clear mountain streams fed by melting snow above. To the left the impressive snow-capped peaks appeared consistently in between the thick forest canopy. Lizards could be heard scurrying on our approach and the smells from the native oak trees made for a very pleasant stroll through the woods.
After another hour we arrived at the junction to Enladrillado. We had climbed 500m in the last two hours to 1700m. Our supposed summit was at 2200m and now the trail rose a lot quicker. Eventually, we emerged out of the forest onto a dusty boulder field. A trail snaked its way along the edge of the snow-capped mountain. It was here at 3 hours into our hike that it was clear all signage thus far had been one way!
We passed some Russians who we had seen earlier at camp alongside their massive Mercedes truck converted into a motorhome. Then we came across a school group whom we had met at our previous campsite of Los Nogalles, their teacher, in fact, had helped us converse with the campground manager! No time to chat we were powering ahead with the summit in our sights, although it was to be another hour away.
The the first bit of snow on the trail came at 2000m. A steeper, slippery gravelled section followed arriving at a false summit, a rocky plateau. We were satisfied with our efforts to this point and stopped to enjoy our packed lunch sheltering from the stiff breeze behind some rocks. Our fellow hikers caught up and continued past us to a second plateau, this one snow covered and the true summit of Enladrillado.
Not to miss the true summit we continued shortly after our lunch through a snowfield and arrived at the official sign for Enladrillado. A peculiar geological feature which is dead flat and seems paved with large stones. Most were covered in snow, given it was late spring, but the entire area has an eerie lunar landing type feel to it.
The descent was uneventful although a few slips here and there on the loose gravel, plus the trail forked a few times requiring us to scratch our heads as to the correct route down. We made some good time on the flatter parts knowing a shower and a hot meal was waiting for us back at camp. A great start to our hiking adventures in Chile and the area is a worthy side trip off the Ruta 5 for anyone heading north or south through Talca.
Stats are from the Reserva Nacional campsite located 3km inside the park. So if you are not camping and walking from the entrance gate, take this into consideration.
- Vertical ascent: 1000m (add 500m if starting from the entrance gate)
- Distance: 20.8km
- Our time: 7:08
- Sign markings for the park are one-way distances and times! Allow 8 hours for the trek.
- Bring food and as much water as possible. Some streams will allow for top-ups if necessary.
- The trail is well indicated although on the descent there are a few unposted forks in the trail so take note on the ascent!
- Camping at the National Reserve is 6,000 CLP per vehicle and the Park entry is 5,000 CLP per person. Trail maps and registration is done at the office which is 2km inside the entrance gate.