Trails of Peuma Hue: Trek to the Continental Divide

by Luz Davico – mldavico@gmail.com
View from the top
  • The Continental Divide
  • Difficulty: medium.
  • Duration: 1:30hs – 2hs (roundtrip).

One of our most popular trails, the path to the Continental Divide (or Hilltop) is an excursion that takes between 1:30hs and 2hs, depending on our hiking speed and our rest stops. It’s named after the fact that this viewpoint is located in the exact point of the water divide: to the North, where we’ll see the Gutierrez Lake, all water flows towards the Atlantic Ocean; to the South the Mascardi Lake and beyond, all water flows to the Pacific Ocean. Read on to discover how to explore this magical trail.

We’ll first get ready at our base: in our house or cabin we’ll put together a small backpack with basics – a refillable water bottle, a small bag of nuts and our picnic, so we can enjoy our lunch with the best view. This trail can be done at any time of day so the last item is optional! A popular alternative is to switch the picnic with a bottle of wine and go up near sunset to enjoy the last rays of sun over the Mascardi Lake.

Leaving our cabin, we’ll walk towards the mountain, past the stables and to our Temple: a stone and wooden building where we do all kinds of events. In this occasion we’ll use it as a landmark to start the actual trail.
The first part of the trail is short and very well marked as it doubles as a horse trail. It’s our introduction to the forest, walking along a seasonal creek (during summer and fall is usually dry) and between coihues, cypress trees and lengas. During spring and summer we’ll also see some mountain flowers such as the amancay, the official flower of Bariloche with its beautiful orange and yellow colours, and hear all kinds of native birds.

We’ll soon arrive to a fence and we’ll duck under it if the creek is dry, cross it normally if not. After crossing it we’ll see a huge bed of rocks: many years ago (around 2006) there was a rock slide in this area from the Catedral slopes, and this is one of the branches of that slide. A rock path remains as a testament of this force of nature, serving as bed for the seasonal creek. We’ll cross the rocky path and follow it up between the massive coihues, over some fallen trees and finally reaching where the two branches of the slide join, marked by a tree we call the Solo Tree or the Resilient Tree. A different testimony of the strength of nature, this huge coihue withstood the assault of the slide and remained alone between the rocks. You can even see small stones engraved in the bark, that has started to heal over them.

From here we’ll take a trail to our left and start the steepest part of our path, an ascent with no technical difficulty. The creek will run to our right, giving us gorgeous views during the way up and even a little waterfall to visit in a short ten-minutes detour, with small wells to wet our feet and the chance to fill our bottles and freshen up under the waterfall. At the end of the climb we’ll reach a split: one of the trails will take us to the Continental Divide Viewpoint (our destination) and the other to the Jacuzzi Waterfalls, an imposing and beautiful waterfall at the top of a steep trail.

Taking a left turn we’ll move towards our destination, passing two dry lagoons, also seasonal: during winter and spring they might be full of water and the trail will go around them. During summer and autumn they tend to be dry (perhaps slightly swampy) and can be walked through: in them grows a soft, green grass that seems right out of a gardening magazine, along with tiny flowers and small plants. After crossing the second lagoon the trail forks again, and we’ll take the left path one more time. The right hand path leads to the Klaussen viewpoint, a gorgeous crag where we can see the Mascardi Lake from, that will remain for a future hike!

The last part of the trail is a bit more steep and with stubbier trees, moving out of the massive coihue forest we started in and closer to the altitude forests of Bariloche, with lenga and ñire trees. We’ll have a couple of glimpses of the Mascardi Lake, on the other side of the continental divide, until we get to the top of the hill, where we’ll reach the viewpoint that’s our destination: a rock located by chance in a strategic place that gives us an incredible 360º view of the Gutierrez Lake and the Mascardi Lake, and around us the mountain chain of Catedral and the valley that separates us from the Klaussen Mountain. If we’re lucky and it’s windy we’ll see condors soaring in the heights and playing in the drafts. A perfect spot for a picnic!

If the wind is too strong at the top we can hike back to the lagoons or the Solo Tree for our lunch and hike back down the same trail towards or cabin.

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