Barrio Bird had a chance to leave San Jose and explore one of Costa Rica’s newer hikes.
THE CERRO PELADO HIKE:
Situated about 30 minutes from Cañas, Cerro Pelado offers you the chance to feel on top of the world in a short amount of time.
This hike is a great chance to view sunrise across a mountain valley. During various times of the year it is also excellent for viewing sunset behind the Golf of Nicoya.
The hike is about 3km one-way (5-6k or 3.5 miles total).
The first kilometer is a steady climb to reach the top of the mountain ridge. From this point you have 360 degree views of mountain ranges near La Fortuna, wind turbines in Tilaran and the Golf of Nicoya. If you are short on time or not physically up for more you will be pleased having reached this point.
However, when you reach the top you will be tempted by the last 2 kilometers in front of you of rolling up and down hills to reach the final peak of Cerro Pelado. Every new hill peak offers a different, stunning view and perspective of the valleys below.
About ½ kilometer from the end you will reach a fork, go to the right to reach the peak. If you go to the left you will visit some watering holes.
TIME OF YEAR:
We went in late October for sunrise on a Tuesday and had the entire hike to ourselves. The guide at the entrance said that summer months and weekends are the busiest.
While October is the rainiest time of year throughout the country there is still a good chance to get in a dry morning hike. The clouds formed during the rainy season also help give off more vibrant sunrises.
The guide explained that October and November is the best time to visit because it is the least windy. As you head into late December thru March you can get winds up to 60 miles an hour.
We wore pants and short sleeve shirts and did not get hot or cold. It sounds like if you visit in the windier part of the year you might want more clothing.
LOGISTICS FOR CERRO PELADO:
We left Cañas at 3:30 a.m. and arrived at Cerro Pelado trailhead about 4:10 a.m. We timed it perfectly arriving at the top of the ridge minutes before the sun started to peak out. The sun continued rising as we hiked along the last 2 kilometers.
Location: There is only 1 entrance to Cerro Pelado and it is on private land. The family manages the trail.
About 10 minutes south of Cañas there is a small town called La Jabilla to the east of the Interamerican Highway 1.
There is not a sign Jabilla. It is the turn off for Route 926 in Google Maps. As of this writing there is also a soda on the north side of the road named Soda las Flores. You will go east down 926 for about 30 minutes down a dirt road crossing several bridges along the way.
There is a well marked sign on the right to announce your arrival. When we arrived it was dark and we were a little uncertain where to park but a man came out and told us what to do. He said you can arrive at any hour, night or day and there will be someone to assist you.
We paid him to enter and then he showed us to the trailhead.
The entire trail is wide and easy to see. My headlamp wasn’t working so I used my cell phone flashlight and that was fine. The trail varied from just dirt to bigger rocks so we recommend some shoes with grip.
They have hundreds of hiking sticks made from branches available at the entrance and we absolutely recommend taking at least one if not two. We would have had a much more difficult time without.
Because the first kilometer is a steep climb to the ridge (when I say steep it’s not crazy but it isn’t a casual zig-zag either) that means going down is a bit harder on the knees. I have more sensitive knees so had to put on my knee braces about a one-third of the way down.
We took about 1.5 liters of water for both of us and that was enough. It wasn’t hot, so if you are hiking in the daytime you might want more.
There are some bathrooms at the entrance so you should be covered if you take care of business beforehand.
There are no buses that access this part of the country so you will need to go in a car or take a tour.
In addition, if you do drive there are locals along the way that wave at cars for a lift. If you have space in the car it’s a great help to them.
Their waving is a little different, we passed one lady because we were confused and thought she was signaling that something was up the road. When we came to an older gentleman doing the same we stopped and realized he wanted a ride. We took him to his destination and that’s when we found out that is the only way these people can get around -- by getting a lift. This can be an extra nice way to connect with locals.
Cost of Admission per Person: ₡3.000
Cost of Parking: ₡2.000
Duration: 30 minutes to top of mountain ridge, 1 hour to final peak. About 3.5 hours total when you add in eating a snack and taking pictures.
By Stacey Auch.