Best Hiking Trails in Rincón de la Vieja National Park

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In the heart of Guanacaste, one of the most beautiful provinces of Costa Rica, lies Rincón de la Vieja National Park, presenting a captivating blend of biodiversity, volcanic scenery, and dense forests. Its varied trekking paths promise distinctive adventures and awe-inspiring panoramas, making it an unparalleled destination for exploration. The guide below will uncover the finest hiking routes within the park, furnishing vital information, insights, and suggestions to guarantee an unforgettable outdoor journey on your next visit to this outstanding national park.

Location and General Information

The park is located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica, approximately 15 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of Liberia and 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Liberia International Airport. It encompasses two 31,000-acre regions: Las Pailas and Santa Maria. Together, there are nine cones and a lagoon known as “Los Jilgueros.”. The park showcased a rich tapestry of ecosystems ranging from dry forest to cloud forest.

Admission Cost and Park Schedule

For adults, the fee you pay is $16.95, and for children 2-12 years old is $5.65. You must make an online reservation via the SINAC website to enter Rincón de la Vieja National Park. This is Costa Rica’s national park and conservation area management system. Click here to make your online reservation.

The park is open from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm on Tuesdays through Sundays. The park is not open on Mondays.

Best Time to Visit

While Rincon de la Vieja National Park is open year-round, the best time to visit is during the dry season, which typically runs from December to April. During this period, rainfall is minimal, and the paths are more accessible. However, if you prefer to witness the vibrant greenery of the rainy season, which occurs from May to November, be prepared for occasional downpours and muddy trails.

Top Hiking Trails in Rincon de la Vieja National Park

Let’s delve into the several hiking trails that are included in the entrance fee.


Las Pailas Loop Trail

Group of hikers on a trail in a lush, dense forest with prominent tree roots covering the path, moss-covered stones, and sunlight filtering through the canopy in Rincon de la Vieja National Park.
The Las Pailas Loop Trail offers a journey through volcanic landscapes and dry forests.

Length: Approximately 3.5 kilometers (2.2 miles)

Duration: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Las Pailas Loop Trail is a top choice for experiencing the park’s volcanic features and diverse wildlife. Passing through dry forests and volcanic landscapes, it showcases boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and colorful mineral pools. Look out for howler monkeys, coatis, and various bird species along the way.


La Cangreja Waterfall Trail (Laguna Azul Trail)

A serene view of La Cangreja Waterfall, with its clear water cascading into a tranquil turquoise pool surrounded by rocks and lush vegetation, and a slender tree in the foreground.
The Laguna Azul Trail offers a 5 to 6-kilometer moderate trek over 3-4 hours through rocky terrain and streams to a secluded blue lagoon.

Length: 5 to 6-kilometer (3 to 4-miles)

Duration: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Take a trek on the Laguna Azul Trail, commonly known as La Cangreja, for a demanding but worthwhile experience. This trail leads you to the breathtaking blue lagoon tucked away in the forest across rocky terrain. Expect to pass across streams and come across beautiful vistas throughout the route. After the climb, unwind in the tranquil lagoon’s surroundings or have a nice plunge in the water.


Rincon de la Vieja Summit Trail

Length: Approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) round trip

Duration: 6-8 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Experienced hikers seeking an unforgettable challenge should consider the Rincon de la Vieja Summit Trail. This demanding hike leads to the park’s highest point, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including the Pacific Ocean and neighboring volcanoes. Expect to traverse dense forests, rocky slopes, and volcanic craters along the way. Due to the trail’s strenuous nature, it’s crucial to be well-prepared with sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water, and snacks.


Active Crater Trail

Length: Approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) round trip

Duration: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

The Active Crater Trail in Rincon de la Vieja National Park offers an exhilarating journey into the heart of volcanic activity. As one of the park’s most iconic trails, it leads adventurers through rugged landscapes and dense forests to witness the awe-inspiring spectacle of an active crater. Along the way, hikers are treated to panoramic vistas of steaming fumaroles, bubbling mud pots, and colorful mineral pools, showcasing the dynamic forces of nature at work.

Popular Trails That Require A Separate Entrance Fee 

Two hikers crossing a shallow stream on a rocky path in a lush forest, with the woman looking up towards the canopy and the man carefully stepping on the stones, both carrying shoes in their hands.
Although to access the following trekking paths you need to pay an extra fee, it is worth it.


Sensoria Trail

Length: Approximately 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) round trip

Duration: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Cost: $125 + 4% tax for adults and $95 + 4% tax for children 6-11 years old.

The Sensoria Trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the park’s lush cloud forest and discover hidden waterfalls and natural hot springs. This guided hike takes you deep into the heart of Sensoria, a private ecological reserve adjacent to Rincón de la Vieja National Park. Along the way, you’ll encounter towering trees draped in moss, vibrant orchids, and diverse wildlife, including sloths, toucans, and frogs. The trail culminates in a series of cascading waterfalls, where you can take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear pools or soak in the rejuvenating hot springs.


Las Chorreras Waterfall Trail

Length: Approximately 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) round trip

Duration: 3-4 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Cost: The price is $25.00 for children ages 4 to 12 and $30.00 for adults ages 13 and above.

The Las Chorreras Waterfall Trail presents a picturesque journey through dense forest and rugged terrain to reach stunning waterfalls cascading down volcanic cliffs. Enjoy panoramic views of lush valleys and towering peaks along the way. The highlight is the main waterfall, offering a refreshing swim in natural pools or simply soaking in the beauty of the cascading water.


Rio Negro Hot Springs Trail

An aerial view of the Rio Negro Hot Springs where several people are enjoying the warm thermal waters in natural stone pools surrounded by lush tropical foliage.
The Rio Negro Hot Springs Trail offers a unique hike through pristine forests and past turquoise waters.

Length: Approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) round trip

Duration: 4-5 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Cost: Adults 13 years of age and up pay $65, and it is $55 for children aged 4 to 12.

Don’t miss the Rio Negro Hot Springs Trail for a distinctive hiking adventure blending excitement with relaxation. Guided through the pristine forest alongside the striking turquoise waters of the Blue River, you’ll spot wildlife like howler monkeys, iguanas, and exotic birds. The trail leads to the Rio Negro Hot Springs, where natural thermal pools amidst lush vegetation provide the perfect respite to soothe tired muscles. 

General Tips and Recommendations

A person stands with arms raised in triumph on a rocky outcrop overlooking a breathtaking mountainous landscape, with low clouds below and a vibrant sunrise in the background.
To enjoy an unforgettable adventure in Rincón de la Vieja National Park, start early to avoid heat and crowds, bring water and snacks, wear appropriate gear, and follow guidelines.
  • Start your hike early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and crowds.
  • Carry a lightweight rain jacket or poncho in case of unexpected showers.
  • Stay on well-marked paths and follow park regulations to minimize impact on the environment.
  • Parking is covered by the admission price.
  • While there are restrooms inside the park entry building, none are found on any of the trails.
  • The park does not have a restaurant. Therefore, it is recommended that you bring bottled water and meals/snacks.
  • If you intend to trek the about 10 km paths around the La Cangreja and Escondido waterfalls, you must begin before noon. After midday, the route leading to these two paths is closed.
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes with good traction, as trails can be uneven and slippery.
  • Apply sunscreen and insect repellent before starting your hike.
  • Consider hiring a local guide for added safety and insight into the park’s ecosystems.
  • Respect wildlife and refrain from feeding or approaching animals.
  • Pack out all trash and leave no trace of your visit to help preserve the park’s natural beauty.

Rincón de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica boasts numerous hiking trails, highlighting its natural beauty and varied ecosystems. Whether you prefer volcanic terrain, dense forests, or waterfalls, there’s a trail suitable for everyone. With the advice in this guide, you’ll be prepared for an unforgettable adventure in this captivating corner of Costa Rica. Click here if you want to check out our tours to explore Rincon de la Vieja National Park.

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