You're off to Great Places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting,

So. . . get on your way!

- Dr. Seuss

Jasmine Ayla is a free-lance writer, traveler and amateur photographer based out of Maui, Hawaii, USA.

Cerro Chato Volcano

Location: Alajuela Department, San Carlos Canton, La Fortuna District, Costa Rica

Elevation: 1,141m (3,742ft)

Difficulty level: Moderate - some say advanced, but it's not really technical, just a lot of cardio/steep scrambling!

Trail length: 5km (3.3mi) - plus .6km roundtrip if you descend to the crater lake

Elevation gain: 500m (1,500ft)

Camping / Huts: No / No

Date hiked: February 28, 2018

Topo map

There is nothing sweeter than forbidden fruit, amiright? And Cerro Chato was forbidden to us several times, the forbidders not realizing that the more they said no, the sweeter the fruit. Well, that's how I felt anyway, but I know Alice was a little nervous about getting thrown in a Costa Rican jail. . .

Read more of my Cerro Chatto story

*As of July 2017, the government has closed the trails to Cerro Chato from the Green Lagoon Lodge and Arenal Observatory. People are still using the trail at the Observatory at their own risk, even though it is officially closed.


Description: Same day hike (approx 4hrs, we did it in 3.5 with a couple of small breaks)

The hike can be accessed either through the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) or the Green Lagoon Lodge. We chose to get a taxi (about $32) to AOL and enter that way. Once you arrive at the park, stop in at reception to get a map, then follow the path to the right of reception down to the pool and past it to the Green Entrance. From there follow the trails on the map leading to Cerro Chato, they're pretty well marked. After about 20-30 minutes of walking on paved road, then dirt road, then dirt path, you'll reach a small shelter with a sign up and to the left saying "No Entry" you'll know you're in the right place. After about another 30minutes of hiking you will reach the second set of No Entry signs, from here it's about a 1 hour slog straight up hill until you reach the crater lake lookout!

Trail: Dirt, clay, and packed dirt trails. DO NOT ATTEMPT IF IT'S RAINING OR RECENTLY RAINED - that's why the trail was closed - it's very dangerous and slippery when muddy.



1. Only attempt the hike in the dry season (December - April).

2. Download the, Waze or Google Maps app, and then download the trail route for use offline.

3. Be prepared to use your hands to ascend in some spots.

Organize before hike:

As always, let friends or family know your plans, your location, and your estimated return time.


Pack: Sunscreen (just for the first part, otherwise there's jungle cover), insect repellent, at least 2L of water per person (it's about 90% humidity), a meal and snacks, a raincoat and sweater (it's a little chilly up top, and the weather can change fast).

Also, see my Trusty Gear and Pack List pages!

Helpful links:

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