Hiking in Boquete, Panama can be quite challenging at times. Not just the trails themselves, but actually finding them is sometimes the biggest challenge. And Cerro La Artilleria is no exception.
How to get there.
The trail to Artillery Hill starts up a hard to find dirt road in Alto Jaramillo. This would be a long 1 1/2 hours walk from town so a car or taxi is recommended.
The dirt road will be on your right after the field with the old cattle corral. And it will be a steep climb! But if you have a 4WD car you can drive a good part of it, although parking will be limited.
Please note that from here on up you are hiking on private property. Therefore you can expect to make a “donation” if caught. We weren’t approached by the caretaker of the finca until we were at the very top of Artillery Hill. I think he has his dogs trained to alert him of trespassers so he can come and collect money. He was a friendly old man who was happy to tell us about the area before asking for money. Having some fluent Spanish speakers in our group I think helped the situation. He is happy to have gringos use the trail as they will usually take their trash home with them, and know how to close a gate behind them. For the exact opposite reasons, they do not like Panamanians going up there.
We were asked for $5 per person which is a bargain for a beautiful trail like Cerro La Artilleria. And quite a nice payday for him!
Once on the trail itself, we found it fairly easy to follow. Don’t expect any signs for directions. When hiking in Boquete, Panama, you usually just have to follow your instinct and hope for the best. There are a few possibilities for wrong turns on this trail, but you will very quickly realize your mistakes. Once you find the tree pictured above you know you are on the right track.
Luckily we had a 9-year-old with us to lead the way. He figured out that if we just follow the horse’s footprints it would lead us in the right direction. And he was correct!
From our parking spot to the top of Artillery Hill was about an hour and a half climb. We started hiking at 6.30am and most of the trail is in the shade. That doesn’t mean you won’t work up a good sweat. Like most days when hiking in Boquete, Panama, an early start is recommended for the views. the clouds tend to roll in early over Volcan Baru. And you don’t want to miss that!
Right before the top, as the trail exits the forest, you will come across a gate and a no trespassing sign. Up until this point we did not know we were on private property. But we had come too far to turn around now. There are cows in the meadow at the top so please make sure to close the gate behind you. From here the summit of Cerro La Artilleria is just a quick climb to your right.
Once you scramble to the top of the rocky outcrop, you will have summited Artillery Hill. Your hard work is rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of Boquete and all around. Mountains, a volcano, and even the ocean can be seen on a clear day. The hill to the right in the picture above is Cerro La Estrella. You can read more about our awesome hike there in my previous post.
Now is a great time to sit and enjoy your breakfast. But make sure to take your pictures first. You never know when the clouds will roll in and cover the volcano. To be honest, I always enjoy the clouds when hiking in Boquete,Panama. They move in and out so fast that the show is amazing to watch.
If or when you get tired of the views, it’s an easy walk back down, the same way you came. But I have a special bonus tip for you that you don’t want to miss out on!
Bonus Tip !!!
Without a little local knowledge, I imagine most people would miss out on this special hidden part of Artillery Hill. But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
Hidden deep below your feet at the viewpoint of Cerro La Artilleria is an amazing cave. It’s really not a cave, just a bunch of large rocks that have fallen on each other over the centuries. But it’s one of the highlights of Artillery Hill that should not be missed.
Unfortunately I wasn’t equipped to photograph it properly, but I think you’ll get the idea. I guess I’ll just have to go back another day.
The cave is on the front side of Artillery Hill, the same side that you first approached it from. There is no clear trail to it from below, you’ll just have to explore and discover it for yourself.
Now it’s time to head back down and back to Boquete for lunch. Hopefully you’ll beat the afternoon rains as this would not be a fun descent when wet.
Have you been to Artillery Hill? Do you have any favorite places to go hiking in Boquete, Panama that I have missed?