Bikepacking Chile: The Lakes District & Reserva Huilo Huilo
126 Mi.(203 KM)
% Rideable (time)
Skyler Des Roches
The Chilean Lakes District is often overlooked by travellers who are lured to the more famous Ruta de los Siete Lagos across the border in Argentina. But, the Chilean side forgoes Argentina’s tourist-packed highways, offering a dirt cyclist’s paradise. This route travels quiet dirt roads and trails past clear lakes, pristine trout-filled rivers, towering volcanoes, hotsprings, and lush rainforests.
- The ride is on horse trails and volcanic pumice two-tracks through the Reserva Huilo Huilo.
- Swimming in pristine lakes and rivers in summer months.
- Consuming sweet and savoury pastries, craft beer, fine chilean wines, and other local specialities in every village.
- Catching trout in the Rio Pillanlenfu.
- Taking a day off to explore the mountain bike trails around Neltume.
- The route described here requires two challenging crossings of a knee- to waist-high river. According to locals, it might be possible to skip the crossing at the northern end of the single track on a foot bridge.
- The front gate to the Huilo Huilo Ecological Reserve at Neltume might not let cyclists through without a guide. We have heard mixed reports. For this reason, we recommend doing some research in advance. The same goes for those tackling this route from south to north. Southbound cyclists might try entering the reserve via a gated entrance near Puerto Fuy.
- Besides military topo maps, the best maps for cycling in Chile are the series of 1:400,000 waterproof maps available at many Copec petrol stations. Map #6 covers this area.
- Reliable GPS road and topographic maps fare available from proyectomapear.com.ar for free.
- There are multiple established campgrounds in most towns in this part of Chile, including all towns and villages on this route.
- Wild camping is possible in Reserva Huilo Huilo.
- Rooms or cabins can be rented in Lago Ranco, Llifén, Neltume, and Coñaripe.
- Food is available in Lago Ranco, Llifén, Neltume, and Coñaripe.
- Resupply opportunities are one or two days apart.