The Torres del Paine National Park is one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Located in the south of Chilean Patagonia, the park is a maze of towering mountain peaks, turquoise lakes, and shimmering glaciers. Unsurprisingly, this breathtaking scenery is a hiker’s paradise. Trekking beneath the park’s iconic granite pillars is a truly breathtaking encounter with nature. With opportunities to traverse steep mountain paths, walk a spectacular waterfall trail, and spot rare wildlife, hiking in the Torres del Paine is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, the park is often sold as a destination for advanced hikers. When people talk about hiking the Torres del Paine, they reference epic expeditions like W trek and the Q circuit. For those who are less experienced, the prospect of a four-day hike with camping can feel a little intimidating. However, those who would prefer to experience the landscape at a more leisurely pace needn’t be put off. Torres del Paine offers many stunning day-hikes, where you can see majestic waterfalls, mighty glaciers, and amazing wildlife. Here, we walk you through the perfect half-day Torres del Paine excursion – the Salto Grande waterfall trail.
The Salto Grande waterfall trail
The Salto Grande Waterfall trail is one of the more accessible routes through the Torres del Paine National Park. However, just because the trek is reasonably short, doesn’t mean it lacks any of the spectacular sights of longer routes. At approximately 2.5 miles long – which at an easy pace should take around 2–3 hours – this trail is the perfect way to see much of the majesty of the Torres del Paine without embarking on anything too grueling.
The Salto Grande waterfall trail is in the heart of the park, taking you directly past the famous granite towers of the Torres del Paine. The trail begins after a picturesque drive past the Nordenskjöld and Sarmiento viewpoints. Once out of the vehicle, the trail is pretty easygoing in terms of elevation. In the beginning, the whole trail is relatively flat until a small ascent towards the end. However, this final push is made well worth it by the spectacular sight of the Salto Grande Waterfall.
Once over the crest, hikers encounter the spellbinding Salto Grande Waterfall. Tumbling 50 feet over a narrow gap fed by the azure waters of Lake Nordenskjöld, the sound of the water crashing into Lago Pehoé below is truly incredible. The trail continues along the pristine shores of Nordenskjöld until you reach the Horns viewpoint. Here, trekkers can marvel at the Torres del Paine’s famous cuernos or ‘horns’ from a unique vantage point.
More short treks the Torres del Paine
This is but one of several stunning day hikes in the Torres del Paine National Park. Although the park has plenty to offer serious explorers, there are a number of more accessible trails. Therefore, if you’re traveling with kids or just prefer to take things a little easier, there’s no reason why you should miss out on one of Chile’s most breathtaking national parks. For more ideas for stunning Patagonian day hikes, take a look at our short guide to hiking with kids.