The Cangrejal River Valley offers many different options for Pico Bonito Trails. It is also one of the two areas that are earmarked for tourism in the park. One area is around the community of El Pino, in the neighborhood of the Lodge at Pico Bonito, the second is in the Cangrejal River Valley. This second area is actually shared by two national parks, Pico Bonito National Park on the western bank of the River and Nombre de Dios National Park on the eastern bank of the Cangrejal River.
The area around El Pino offers two distinct trails: the Zacate River trail, which offers a relatively tough hike up to a lovely waterfall. To get there, you will need to climb a steep slope that has many makeshift steps to get you up to a more level area. The highlight of this trail is the magnificent Rio Zacate Waterfall. After the waterfall, on your way back to the beginning of the trail, you can enjoy a refreshing swim in the cool waters of the Zacate River once you get to the end of the loop. This is probably the most famous of Pico Bonito Trails.
The second set of trails in this area is within the Lodge at Pico Bonito. They are not public trails, and therefore to use them you will have to either be a guest at the hotel or purchase a tour through the hotel. These trails are the best kept of all Pico Bonito Trails, and have a unique, bird watching tower that will get you up to the forest canopy, where you will have a better chance to see the birds that live in this area. The Lodge also has fantastic bilingual guides that have been trained to spot and identify birds and will make your trip absolutely unique!
As for the Cangrejal River Valley, you can choose from several different Pico Bonito Trails: Located just across the river, with access via a magnificent “Indiana Jones” type bridge over the river, you can access the El Mapache, La Roca and La Cascada Trails. This set of trails has become the most popular of all Pico Bonito Trails due mainly to its easy access, plus the fact that there are several different lodges and inns in the area where you can choose to spend the night and have walking access to them. For information on all of them, visit www.cangrejalriver.com. Keep in mind that the closest guest house in the area is La Villa de Soledad, a lovely boutique bed and breakfast that is only 600 feet from the bridge!
Another great option is the Guaruma trail. This trail offers a simple, easy hike that is great for both kids and senior citizens, and does not require a big effort. It also uses a small “hanging bridge” over a “La Muralla Creek” and part of the trail is actually used by members of a nearby community called La Muralla. For more complete information on this trail you can visit www.guaruma.org . The trail is kept up by members of the community under the leadership of Guaruma, and this Pico Bonito Trail is probably the best for an introduction of young kids to the rain forests of Central America.