GPT23 - PN Lago Puelo
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GPT Section Articles
Recent Alerts and Suggestions
- 2019-11-10 / Jan Dudeck / Regular Hiking and Packrafting Route
Severe wild fires in recent years destroyed the trail west of Lago Puelo and north of Lago Cholila. This makes a traverse much more demanding in particular when hiking and not packrafting Lago Puelo. Therefore I currently do not recommend to hike this section. Traversing this section with a packraft is also very demanding but the rewards are pristine water routes on Lago Puelo, Lago Cholila and Rio Carrileufu.
Season Section Log
- 2023-Mar-01 / SOBO / RR + 23-01 / 4.5 days / Martin & Helena
Trails around Lago Puelo are now in good condition, but its still very challenging section following RR, especially part between El Turbio and Lago Cholila - alternative route mentioned by Martin would have been a better option probably. On the other side, if you go for it, you are rewarded with spectacular view of Tres Picos as soon as you get above the treeline, and the wilderness / remoteness of the area is something we have not experienced for quite some time and really enjoyed! Definitely count with more time to finish this trail.
With only a little info about the overall trail condition we started from Lago Puelo beach. On the way there is a PN office (that was closed in the late afternoon), toilets and even a kiosk that makes small pizzas and has some basic things. The beginning of RR is well marked with blue-white marks and maintained. We didn’t notice the X waypoint and ofc took the wrong trail, later we found place for camping at around km 5 where is an old sign and safe place to camp (no water) with all the falling trees in mind. Camp at km 8.5 is perfect, flat circle of grass and amazing view. Water at km 11.2 was basically dry, but the one after it had a small creek. The way down to the valley was still marked but not so obvious in some places. It was a pleasant surprise for us to find down there campsite with opportunity to buy some food - we had a milanesa sandwich, a little more expensive (around 2500 ARS), but good with local draft beer. They accept cc and have (poor) wifi connection. From the campsite there is a official trail to El Turbio that took us around 4 hrs, easy walking. At the end of it the RR leads closer to the lake, but we followed the marks to a gate near to the settlement. We camped there but the official campsite is probably on the open field behind the settlement. In the morning we met the settler / guard Mario - his number is +54 9 2944 20-4904 if you need it. He adviced us to take the optional trail from there and wrote down our contact details. He surprised us with his estimate of 4-5 days to get to the other side and we had to promise to let him know when we’ll get there.
We decided to follow Mario’s advice and go with the eastern valley instead of RR. From El Turbio the trail was in good condition (only less visible sometimes) up to a point where you reach junction of two rivers and the trail turns right, basically leading you into the river. We found out that there is actually a trail on the left side of the river that leads into the forest but at the end will take you almost to the junction with RR. As we were coming closer to that point, it was harder to follow the path, that was overgrown in some places and with a lot of fallen trees.
After the junction we continued actually in the river for some time and camped at km 45 (funny combination of river walking and bush-bashing, there must be some new term for that). Bush-bashing continues from that point and things don’t get better until beginning of the CC part. There are hunderds of fallen trees and no trail to follow. We tried to go higher up but with no luck, you probably just have to find a way through it. Expect very slow progress. CC starts as soon as you get out of the forrest and follows the river. Walking on both sides of it or directly in it is what we did and there was still some remaining snow. Spectatular views of Tres Picos.
With hope of better trail we continued to the fords start/end part, but all we found were again fallen trees and overgrown trails making the next few kms again very hard and slow. Hard to give any advice here, we tried to follow the GPS, but you need to improvise. Things get better in the second part of this stretch leading to the final ford 59.2 - as you descent down, the river banks get wider and easier to walk on. After the ford you’ll finally get on a proper trail that leads basically all the way to the lake. There are basically no gates but be careful with barbed wires laying on the ground around these marked places. We went through the burned forrest and connected to the MR, from there its very straightforward. Camp on the other side of the lake was quite nice but with no food to buy (there is super small shop), and bc we were out of our supplies, we got a ride to Lago Rivadavia.
Contact: @martin_hanzelka @helenneka
- January 10-/ Zach / Lago Cholila ➡️ 24P Villa Fulalaufquen
I started at Lago Cholila. After seeing Cerro Tres Picos from below i wished I’d done the whole section. Getting out of El Bolson was surprisingly difficult. Hitched luckily all the way to Lago Cholila. Walked farther around to put in just North of the little hill. What a ride! Cruised with the wind and waves straight to Rio Carrileufu paddling only to orient forward. The river is a delight. Put on cruise control and enjoy the view. The following morning was unexpectedly windy in the face so I had to paddle to make progress most of rest of the river. Continued on 24P without stopping in Villa Rivadavia.
- 2022 Nov 9-11 Frank
The office of Club Andino Piltri in Bolson, which was a great source for hiking information, has burned down & they are currently homeless. Rivers were running high & I did not get any info. on the current status of the route so I walked round it on the road in 3 days. Day 1: I got the morning bus to Epuyen then walked about 42KM NOBO to Pasarela Rio Azul near Lago Puelo at the start of GPT22. Although you are near the main road (Ruta 40) you can often walk away from it on small gravel roads & tracks. No place for food on the road until you reach El Hoyo where there is a great bakery on RHS of road (the first place you come to NOBO) Friendly with very good fruit pie. At the north end of El Hoyo just after the viewpoint you can cut left on a dirt road, go right over a small hill & come down on the main road into Lago Puelo. Epuyen has a bus station, a few shops & a cafe. Day2: 7:30AM bus to Epuyen & continued SOBO. All on road, first on Ruta 40 then on much quieter Ruta Provincial 71. It's paved as far as Cholila, then gravel. In Argentinian Patagonia the roads generally have a wide gravel margin so you can walk away from the traffic. Nothing on the road for 28KM except a marsh with flamingos in it. Then you come to Butch Cassidy's house (down a signed track, 500 metres off the road) 100 metres down the main road is La Legal museum & cafe, friendly, displays about Butch & local history in Spanish & English. There is no need to go into Cholila which is 3KM off route. As you approach Cholila the main road turns left up a small hill. Leave it & go straight ahead on a gravel road (the old RP71 road) After 5KM you come to a junction. 300 metres on your left is a shop with good supplies, they even had camping gas. On the right is a campsite & 200 metres further where the road becomes gravel there are cabanas & rooms. Day3: Walked the gravel RP71 to Vila Rivadavia in 3 hours & continued on GPT24. Vila Rivadavia has 2 small shops, 2 campsites & La Pilarica lodge, good soup & coffee, wifi, expensive rooms. It's in the village 1KM off the route. From La Pilarica you can take a shortcut to rejoin the road in 300 metres (ask them to show you as there is a lot of thorn scrub off route)
|GPT23: PN Lago Puelo||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||E: Lagos Argentinos||Total||93.5 km||34 h||79.6 km||27 h|
|Region||Argentina: Chubut||Trails (TL)||53.6 km||57.3%||28.2 km||35.4%|
|Start||Lago Puelo (Puerto)||Minor Roads (MR)||20.1 km||21.5%||1.6 km||2.0%|
|Finish||Villa Lago Rivadavia||Primary Roads (PR)||11.6 km||12.4%||0.9 km||1.1%|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||4.2 km||4.4%||4.5 km||5.6%|
|Traversable||Jan - Mar (Maybe: Dec, Apr)||Bush-Bashing (BB)||4.1 km||4.4%||4.1 km||5.2%|
|Packraft||Very Useful||Ferry (FY)||-||-||-||-|
|Connects to||GPT22, GPT24H, GPT24P||Investigation (I)||-||-||-||-|
|Options||69 km (2 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||(12.2 km)||(13.0%)||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||40.2 km||50.6%|
|Attraction||3 (of 5)||5 (of 5)||River (RI)||21.0 km||26.3%|
|Difficulty||5 (of 5)||5 (of 5)||Lake (LK)||19.3 km||24.2%|
|Direction||Both ↓↑||Both ↓↑||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Comment||Packrafting: ↓ More packraft use|
|Character||Forest, Farmland, Settlers, Unpeopled Areas, River Packrafting, Lake Packrafting|
|Challenges||Demanding River Fords, Bush Bashing, Demanding Navigation, Possibly Impassable|
Satellite Image Map
Elevation Profile of Regular Hiking Route
Elevation Profile of Regular Packrafting Route
Section Planning Status
Recommended Travel Period
Benefits of Hiking and Packrafting
Recommended Travel Direction
Section Length and Travel Duration
Suitable Section Combinations
The closest resupply option is the small town of Cholila. The largest grocery store here, which takes credit cards, is located in a building a block off the central park with “Autoservicos” written on the side. There are several smaller stores that offer snacks, a couple of ferreterías (hardware stores), good restaurants, and lodging/camping options.
La Anonima supermarket in El Bolson. Epuyen has a few small shops & a cafe There is a good shop 3KM outside Cholila just before the new paved RP71 joins the old gravel RP71 2 small shops & a restaurant in Vila Rivadavia
Services: ATM and Money Exchange
Accommodation: Hostals and Hotels
Campsite $ on RR 3KM outside Cholila
Transport: Ground Transport
Transport: Shipping Services
Resupply on the Trail
Location, Names, Available Items and Services
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
La Golondrina bus runs every hour in daylight from the bus stand outside La Anonima supermerket in El Bolson to Lago Puelo. Via Tac also go there. You can get a direct bus Bariloche-Lago Puelo with Via Tac. La Golondrina have buses Bolson-Epuyen Mon-Sat at 7:30, 1PM & 18:30 leaving from the same bus stand. Via Tac go El Bolson-Lago Puelo-Epuyen-Esquel every day leaving El Bolson at 9:40 from the Via Tac office in El Bolson. They also have an evening bus. La Golondrina have occasional vans going Epuyen-Cholila.
Return from Finish
Permits, Entry Fees and Right-of-Way Issues
Regular Hiking Route
- Comment Jan Dudeck:
Recent reports stated that the hiking trail (track RH-TL-V@23-2.4) on the eastern side of Lago Puelo is nearly impassable due to a wild fire and lack of maintenance.
At the south side of Lago Puelo is a nice, lakeside campsite. The route continues south on another well groomed path, Cajón del Arroyo Derrumbe, that winds through rocks and scrub heading towards a forest. After entering the forest and crossing the footbridge, the land opens up and camping is plentiful. This path continues, but it becomes harder to follow. Eventually it widens into a 4WD track which winds through private farms.
After passing by the farms, the trail turns off the 4WD track onto a single track trail which is difficult to follow. There are several misleading spurs and the trail is overgrown with prickly vegetation. The trail remains like this until the steep climb beginning approximately 11.5 km from the south shore of Lago Puelo.
During the steep 800 m climb it is possible to spot a faint game trail, but for the most part this is a cross country route. This climb is difficult! There are very few trees, mostly bushes and prickly grasses full of burs, and the route does not cross water. At the top of the climb, just over the crest, there is a spot to camp.
The descent involves bushwhacking through a dense, woody forest for a couple kilometers, broken up by the occasional meadow. Be wary of the route you choose to take as it is possible to cliff out. After reaching the bottom (at approximately elevation 1.160 m) and beginning the next ascent (to approximate elevation 1.350 m), the forest opens up allowing for easier movement. The second descent (to approximately elevation 980 m) is densely forested, steep, and very slow going. The subsequent ascent (to approximately elevation 1.280 m) involves bushwacking until reaching treeline. At this point, the route descends cross-country on talus and alpine marshland. The dense forest and wet conditions of the meadows makes camping in this area difficult.
After dropping below treeline, a stream winds through relatively open forest until joining Del Turco. In several places it is possible to walk along the bank of the river, crossing it as needed. Since there are several occasions where crossing Del Turco is necessary, doing this section when the water is high may be dangerous. When the GPS route deviates from the river it’s usually to avoid a steep section where the flat banks disappear. There is the occasional small trail which frequently fades into the thick bamboo forest. The combination of rocky terrain and prickly vegetation makes camping along the river difficult to find. However, there are some clear flat areas; a couple places even had evidence of fire rings.
Approximately 5 km from where the route joins the dirt road to Lago Cholila, the trail becomes more established. There are still some misleading spurs, but generally the route is straightforward. There are also higher quality and more frequent camping options in this area. The route joins a nice dirt road lined with several private residences about 1 km from Lago Cholila. The put in for the 4 km paddle across the lake is a grassy beach.
The outlet of Lago Cholila is Río Carrilefu. This river is swift but has few obstacles. Most of the river is lined with thick bush or private property, but the occasional place to camp can be spotted (some areas even have picnic tables). Watch for the take-out just before Villa Lago Rivadavia. Exit the river on a grassy beach just below a small campsite called Camping El Abuelo Daniel. There are several amenities at this site including flushing toilets, cold showers, and home cooked meals. The price in 2018 was 170 argentine pesos to camp per night without breakfast and 230 argentine pesos per night with breakfast included.
Regular Packrafting Route
- Route description by Kara Davis after Season 2017/18:
There is a boat ramp and nice beach at the docks on the north shore of Lago Puelo. Located at put-in is an Argentine Coast Guard outpost so don’t be surprised if an official asks you where you’re planning on paddling. While paddling, the occasional small sandy beach may be spotted on the east side of the lake, but for the most part the shore is very steep. The official route follows the west side, where there are obvious beaches.
If wind makes passage across the lake impossible, hiking the well maintained Camino al Desemboque is a good option. It is possible to access the trail from the lake if need be, but be prepared to bushwack up through some hard terrain. Be aware of the signs along Camino al Desemboque that say camping is prohibited in Parque Nacional Lago Puelo.