We captured beautiful drone shots in our Ola Hiking Vlog
The Cerro Los Picachos is one of the best hikes we’ve ever done. Located just a couple of hours north of Panama City, Panama this steep peak offers spectacular panoramic views of the entire Anton Valley, especially at sunset. Hiking the Cerro de Los Picachos can be tricky on your own, but this post will highlight all of the key things to know.
Where Is the Cerro Los Picachos de Ola?
The Cerro Los Picachos is located just a few hours north of Panama City, in the Anton Valley. The closest town is Ola, which is a short drive from the entrance to the hike. By car, you can reach the town of Olá from Panama City in 2-3 hours.
The entrance to the trail is about a mile west of Ola, right along the main road that cuts through the town. There is a Waypoint on Google Maps that is pretty accurate. There is no entrance fee to use the trail, but you should make sure you have the landowner’s permission before starting up the trail.
How Difficult Is the Cerro Los Picachos Hike?
Getting to the Peak of Cerro de Los Picachos is very quick, but it is a very challenging hike. You need at least an average fitness level to make it to the top. The hike is a very short distance, but it is very steep and it is very easy to get winded.
Personally, I found the descent to be more challenging than the ascent. I have a small fear of heights, and making my way back down the mountain was challenging as I could see just how drastic the drop on either side of me was.
The other complicating factor is that most people opt to do the hike in time to catch the sunset. Navigating the steep terrain can be very challenging in the dark.
Can You Hike the Cerro de Los Picachos Alone?
Technically, you can hike the Cerro Los Picachos alone. However, I do not recommend it one bit.
First things first, the hike is fully located on private property. If you don’t get permission from the property’s owner first, you are trespassing. While he is normally pretty forgiving of trespassers, it isn’t courteous to hike on his land without asking first.
Even if you do get his permission, finding the trailhead and making it to the peak can be very challenging alone – especially at sunset. If you want to guarantee that you make it to the peak in time for the sunset, it is almost always better to hire a guide.
We did the hike with Travelling Souls Panama, and we highly recommend booking a tour with them. For a very affordable price, they transported us from Panama City to Ola at 2am, guided us to the peak, took us to a local waterfall, and then back to Panama City. They offer other tours all over Panama, and there really is no better way to explore the beauties that Panama has to offer.
Is the Cerro Los Picachos Hike Dangerous?
The Cerro Los Picachos hike can be dangerous if you try to do it alone. The hike consists of many narrow passes with lethally steep drops on either side. While these steep drops make for epic pictures, they also make the hike pretty dangerous.
As we mentioned before, the terrain itself is fine, and there is no need for advanced hiking equipment. However, if you aren’t very surefooted or get queasy with heights, this hike may not be for you. The trail is only a few feet wide at several points, with several hundred-foot drops on either side.
The only danger is that you could slip down one of the edges, and there is very little chance of that scenario having a happy ending.
You should never hike the Cerro Los Picachos when the trail is wet or muddy, as it is far too dangerous.
How to Hike the Cerro Los Picachos
Parking at the Trailhead
There is very limited parking near the trailhead. In fact, there is hardly even enough of a parking area for one car. You will need to drive a few minutes out of Ola to get to the trailhead, and you may have to park further up the road if there isn’t adequate space.
The limited parking area that is available is located in a dangerous spot. There is a tight turn right after this parking area, and it is common for cars to accidentally get side-swiped by oncoming traffic if they aren’t parked far enough off of the road.
Finding the Trail
The Cerro Los Picachos trail starts on the side of the main road heading west of Ola, Panama. The beginning of the trail is located on the left side of the road, a few meters up a small hill. The trail can be very hard to find, as it is pretty off the grid and not nearly as popular as many other major hikes in the country.
As you exit your car and proceed to the left of the road, you will pass a small gate. To get to the trail, you must proceed through this gate, continue forward through a cow pasture, pass a house on your right, and pass through another gate. Be sure to close both gates, as you don’t want to let the owner’s animals escape into the road.
Hiking to the Peak of Cerro Los Picachos
Once you make it through the cow pasture and find the trail, you will almost immediately start hiking up the steep incline of the mountain. The trail is very short but incredibly steep. The hike is nothing but incline, as there isn’t a single flat stretch of mountain.
For most people, the hike takes about 45 minutes on the way up and about 20-30 minutes on the way down. At the peak, there is a flat plateau area where you can have a snack and soak in the incredible views as the sunrise illuminates the valley. Depending on the season, there may be swarms of locusts at the top of the mountain, but there isn’t much you can do about them.
Continuing Past the First Peak
Once you make it to the top of the hike, you will see that the trail continues onward to other peaks. While this is an option for avid hikers, I do not recommend making the journey. The view from the first peak is already epic, and the trails beyond this point are even more narrow and unsteady than the first.
I wouldn’t recommend venturing any further than the first peak unless you are a very experienced hiker and have the appropriate gear. This area is remote, and any accident is likely to be a very bad one.
Descending from the Peak
The way down the mountain is exactly the same as the way up, although everything feels very different as you descend. At least to me, the ground felt less stable, the slope felt steeper, and the drops look even more drastic. This may have been because the sun was up, but I was sure to really take my time on the way down.
Hiking Cerro Los Picachos with Travelling Souls Panama
As I mentioned earlier, we chose to do the Cerro Los Picachos hike with Josias at Travelling Souls Panama, and we could not have been more pleased. Doing this hike with a local guide was worth every penny. Finding the trailhead, making your way to the peak, and even driving to Ola can all be challenging without the help of a local guide, and Josias was incredible to travel with.
He picked us up at our Airbnb in Panama City at 2am, made great conversation with us the whole way to the mountain, and even took us to a waterfall afterward. Travelling Souls Panama is a Panamanian small business focused on introducing travelers to the wonders that Panama has to offer its visitors. Josias is a really good person, a great guide, and an excellent photographer, too.
We Highly Recommend Travelling Souls Panama
We hiked Cerro Los Picachos to record epic footage for our pregnancy announcement video, and Josias willingly flew our drone all around the mountain to capture epic shots of us.
Josias also took professional photography of us FOR FREE.
If you’d like to hire a guide to take you on the Cerro Los Picachos hike, or anywhere else in Panama, I can’t recommend Travelling Souls Panama enough.
If you want to hire Travelling Souls Panama to take you on this hike, reach out to Josias at +507-6153-8924 or submit a request on their website. Full pricing information is available on their website, as well as a list of the other adventures that they offer.