Cerro Chato trailhead

La Fortuna (Arenal), Costa Rica

©Sue & Ray, Toucan Maps

Cerro Chato is Arenal\'s dormant little sister volcano.

1.4 km south and 3.8 km west by road from La Fortuna at the parking lot for La Fortuna falls is one of two trailheads to make the climb to the blue-green lagoon cradled in the crater. Stop into the newly renamed “GreenLagoon InfoCenter” (on your right and uphill as you pull into the parking lot) to pick up a map pay the $10 entrance fee for the private Arenal Nature Conservancy Park and Gardens that you must traverse on the eastern approach to the cone.

The first half hour of the hike is in the open and if the sun is out, scorching hot. Bring a hat and take advantage of the overlooks to take a break and enjoy the views of the volcano, La Fortuna and on a clear day the llanuras del norte in the distance.

Entering the forest feels almost like switching an air conditioner on and the interest level goes up as quickly as the comfort level. Leaf litter frogs, rain frogs, mono congos, toucans and dozens of other birds may be spotted.

The trail up is steep and the section dropping from the rim to the lake is even steeper and very slippery when wet (i.e. all the time… it’s the rainforest remember). This is not a casual walk and is recommended for experienced hikers in good condition. The owner of the Conservancy recently informed us that ongoing trail improvements including cutting and building up steps are making conditions much better on the eastern approach from the waterfall parking lot.

Continuing south and west around the rim trail you can drop down an equally steep trail towards the valley of the Rio Agua Caliente, onto another private reserve and up to the second trailhead at Arenal Observatory lodge on the south side of the volcanoes. This section of the trail is free for guests of the Observatory and $4 for others (pay at the lodge office). If you don’t want to hike back over the dormant cone of Chato you can get a taxi from the Observatory to Fortuna or area hotels for $20-30.

If you start your hike from the Observatory and continue to the La Fortuna waterfall parking lot you’re required to pay the $10 Arenal Nature Conservancy Park trail fee as you exit.

Guided tours are available at the information center ($65) or any hotel or agency can book it in advance adding transportation from your hotel to the trailhead (by horseback or van - the upper trail is for foot traffic only) and lunch if you’d like.

Whichever side you approach from once you reach the lake you are within the declared boundaries of Arenal Volcano National Park but there is no office for miles and currently there is no attempt made to collect the National Park entrance fee for users walking into this area.

The waterfall parking lot is close to La Fortuna, and the Observatory Lodge trailhead is more convenient from the lake and El Castillo.

Amenities & Features



Website & Contact

phone: (506)2479-7777

Recommended Near Cerro Chato trailhead

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Nearby Activities & Attractions

Nearby Hotels & Lodges

Arenal Oasis Ecolodge
Pura Vida Hotel y Restaurant
Arenal Backpackers Resort
Hotel La Amistad Arenal
Hotel Arenal Carmela
Hotel La Fortuna
Hotel Arenal Rabfer
Arenal Observatory Lodge
Hotel Arenal Springs Resort
Arenal Nayara Hotel
Mountain Paradise
Kioro Hotel
Tabacón Lodge
Finca Luna Nueva Lodge
Lost Iguana Resort
Leaves and Lizards
Rancho Margot
Arenal Lodge

The nearest town is La Fortuna (Arenal), 4 km away and Aeropuerto Arenal airport is 10.6 km.

Please note that distances for nearby hotels, attractions, activites & other points of interest are in a straight line. Distances by road may be significantly longer!

The exact gps map coordinates of Cerro Chato trailhead are latitude 10.44223, longitude -84.66779. (exact GPS coordinates are accurate to within a few meters, gps data labeled approximate is within a few hundred meters)