|5 days from La Union, 3 from Mashue
|Gravel and sand road over coastal mts
|Distant volcanoes, Alerce trees, coastline
|Alerce Costero National Monument, Pacific coast beaches
|Transport to/from hike:
|Bus, hike or hitch
|Adequate but not plentiful
|Food on route:
|Cafe food only in Hueicolla
|Horses and guides:
|Tent, refugio, hospedaje
|None needed. Standard gear links: our hiking gear, medical kit.
|A variety of flies in summer
To reach Hueicolla takes 5 days from La Union and 3 from Mashue. Nacional Monument Alerce Costero is 22Km uphill from the end of the bus route at Mashue.
After leaving La Union the road soons turns to gravel. From there the entire walk is on little used roads, much of which is rocky until after Mashue when it becomes sandier. There are 3 major ( 5hr+ ) climbs, the first after Mashue, the second after a plateau to Alerce Costero, the third is to the cellphone towers. After the third climb the road descends to the pacific ocean
The route starts in farmland, passing orchards and homesteads, offering vistas of distant volcanoes over the plains. It becomes natural forest after a section of clearcut following Mashue. There is a further short section of farmland prior to and surrounding the Alerce Costero park. The walks ends at Hueicolla beach on the pacific coast.
The Nacional Monument Alerce Costero is an area of protected Alerce forest with loop walks, a camping area, lookouts, and a refugio near the rangers station. Prior to the logging of the 20th century the coastline was largely Alerce forest, now this is one of the few remaining pockets of these ancient trees ( up to 4000 years old ). There are three beaches to be explored at the end of the route. The beach north of Hueicolla reached from the free campspot complete with vultures, penguins, oyster catchers, sandpipers and other birdlife. At the river outlet, opposite Hueicolla is a bay used by fisherman, sunset walkers and swimmers, the river is a great place to canoe and swim etc. The southern most beach is the main fishing spot and is sheltered from the largest of the waves.
A bus runs from La Union to Mashue beyond this there are no public services, see route details for more information.
Water is available from only selected areas: La Union, Mashue, first plateau after Mashue. After this there are a few more streams; half way up the second large climb, inside Alerce Costero park, and various streams on the way down to the coast and there is a river outlet at the free campspot.
There is a supermercado in La Union that is large and well stocked with a variety of food - it is best to purchase all of your food for the hike here, as there are no other markets on the route. The only other food along the route is in Hueicolla where Maria's hospedaje offers a small restaurant with tasty food; they require notice to prepare some of the items on the menu.
Camping is fairly easy most of the way, permission should be gained on the way to Mashue as the land is privately owned. The refugio at Nacional Monument Alerce Costero maybe used if written permission is gained in Valdivia prior to arrival. There is one hospedaje in Hueicolla available to walk in customers, houses in the village can be rented by arrangement in La Union.