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O Circuit: Campsite Los Perros - Campsite Paso

Difficult
 4.5 (2)

One of the most beautiful days in the Macizo circuit with striking views of the Grey glacier and the Southern Ice Field!


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Map Key

5.2

Miles

8.4

KM

Point to Point

3,869' 1,179 m

High

1,466' 447 m

Low

2,191' 668 m

Up

2,563' 781 m

Down

17%

Avg Grade (10°)

66%

Max Grade (33°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Geological Significance · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Trail access is closed after 2pm during summer and after 10am during winter. One Way Only: This is designated as a directional trail.

Need to Know

(1) Hiking on this section is only allowed if done in the Los Perros - Paso direction. (2) You are not allowed to smoke, light fires or use any type of stove anywhere along the trail, only at designated places in official campistes. (3) Winds can be really strong in the pass, especially after noon. Park rangers will tell you to get an early start (no later than 8am) to avoid bad weather while traversing the pass. (5) This trail has steep muddy and wet descents, where one can easily slip and get hurt. Gaiters and trekking poles can be very helpful here. (6) The campsite Paso (CONAF) is small when compared to the previous campsites in the circuit but it is nicely protected from wind. It has a shelter where you can cook, a bathroom and no showers. Reservations for CONAF campsites are required and can be made in advance during the right dates at parquetorresdelpaine.cl/es/….

Description

This is the fourth section of the Macizo circuit ('O' circuit) and is deemed as the most demanding of the whole circuit. Start early in the day at the Campsite Los Perros and the trail will almost immediately start going up, taking you to the John Gardner Pass. Follow the trail west along the southern banks of the Los Perros River for approximately 2 km under Lenga forest and through some very wet and muddy sections. Go through a few open areas from where you'll be able to spot the pass. Hike for 500m more and you'll reach tree line on the closest point you'll get to the Los Peros River, from where the trail will change its course roughly due southwest. Follow the red posts marking the trail for another 500m gently going up on a somewhat flat terrain to gain a nice view of the glaciers coming down from Cerro Amistad, to the north. From this point onwards you'll be mostly scrambling on rocks on steep terrain while ascending to the pass. You'll reach the top of the saddle roughly at 1.810 m elevation and 4.5 km into the hike. This is the John Gardner Pass! From the top you can turn back and look to the east to have a gorgeous view of the valley in which you were hike in the last few days. Look to the west and be stunned and amazed with the jawbreaking view you'll have of the full extension of the Grey Glacier—from its snowy origins to the north, lost in the horizon within the Patagonian Southern Ice Field, and down to the terminus on the Grey Lake to the south. This is certainly one of the most amazing views in the park, and you can only access it if you are hiking the Macizo Circuit (the 'O'). The wind up here can be incredibly strong depending on the conditions. Sights are not guaranteed. Start the day early for a better chance of clear weather. From the top the trail will take you to the other side of the saddle, where you'll start switchbacking down while looking at this gigantic glacier right in front of you. At roughly 6 km into the hike, you'll reach the treeline once again, where you can expect to have some wind cover. This final section of the trail is tricky - it is a very steep descent through an invariably wet and overly muddy section. Even though the trail switchbacks a lot, the trail conditions can be very poor. You'll reach the end of this muddy nightmare at 7.5 km in the hike. After this, enjoy a flat kilometer through the forest to finally end up at the Campsite Paso where you give your sore knees some deserved rest.

Flora & Fauna

Most of the hike will be done in forests dominated by Lenga trees. Expect to see the Chilean Firebush with beautiful red flowers during the summer. After you leave the forest going up the pass, you'll reach an open area where a lot of interesting plants typical of wet environments can be found, such as the Llareta, Gotas de Sangre and a couple of Nassauvia species. Commonly seen birds are the Southern House Wrens, White-throated Treerunners, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Thorn-tailed Rayaditos, Black-chinned Siskins, Patagonian Sierra Finches, Rufous-Collared Sparrow, Chimango Caracaras, Austral Thrushes and Austral Blackbirds. Pay attention to the sky to spot Andean Condors or Black-chested Buzzard Eagles flying high up.

Contacts

Shared By:

Gabriel Kayano

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 2 votes

#7231

Overall
  4.5 from 2 votes
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Trail Rankings

#23

in Chile

#7,231

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Photos

The Grey Glacier, viewed from the top of the John Gardner Pass
Jan 8, 2020 near Puerto…, CL
John Gardner Pass
Jan 8, 2020 near Puerto…, CL

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Dec 16, 2018
MtnDanAz
Trail was slick with mud.