Hiking La Piedra De La India Vieja in Boquete, Panama is quite the challenge. It is probably the toughest trail I have hiked in Boquete so far. And it is also the toughest trail to find!
Even with all my pictures and descriptions that will follow, I’m still not sure if you will be able to find it by yourself. Luckily for me, I didn’t have that problem. A few weeks prior to our hike, a local lady had seen some of my pictures of Facebook and invited me to join them for a hike. Without them I probably would have never made it here.
How to get there.
As with most days hiking in Boquete, Panama, this will probably the most challenging part of the hike. Once you actually find the trail it is fairly easy to follow. But finding it is not! This is one hike in Boquete that you are probably better off with a local guide.
No matter where you are staying in Boquete, you will need a car or a taxi to get here. We made it in a 2WD car but a 4WD would be advisable. From the Jaramillo loop road it is about a 20 minute drive on a rough dirt road to a parking area.
From the parking area, you want to take the road down to the right. It is a steep, downhill, loose gravel road that your car would likely not make it back up.
At the bottom is a bridge where two beautiful rivers meet making a good photo opportunity.
From the bridge it is just a couple of minutes walk to where the trail kind of begins. You will need to look out for a small rustic house and find the gate into their garden.
Once through the gate you need to be careful. The ground is not as dry as it looks and you will need to find a dry route through it.
You will want to stay to the left of the house to find the trail. Don’t worry about the barking dog. Luckily he was tied up when we visited. Luckily my friend, who I went with, his family owns all this land. He told me that they don’t mind people passing through to access the trail. Just make sure to close the gate behind you!
From behind the house, there is no obvious trail. You will need to climb a little to your right and eventually you will come across a trail. If you don’t find it within the first 5 minutes or so then you are probably going in the wrong direction.
Once you have found the trail it is pretty easy to find your way to the top. However, don’t expect an easy climb! Unfortunately, I don’t have any good pictures of the actual trail as I needed both hands free for the climb. It is a steep and narrow trail all the way up with many obstacles to overcome. You will find yourself grabbing onto any available tree for support in many places. Don’t worry, there are ropes in place to haul yourself up some of the steeper parts! And be prepared to help each other up some of the rock faces you will encounter.
After a sweaty hour and forty-five minutes hike from the parking area, we eventually reached the end of our journey. However, it was not the stunning view we had been hoping for.
We were blanketed in clouds with La Piedra de la India Vieja barely poking through. Of course if you have spent any length of time in Boquete you will know the weather here can change very quickly. And luckily for us that held true this time. Although we never got the perfect clear view that we would have hoped for, the clouds gave us quick glimpses of the surrounding valley and mountains.
I’m not really a fan of clear blue skies for photography. And with all the clouds we had at the top, it made for some quite dramatic photos. We managed to catch a glimpse of the ocean below us. And even Cerro La Artilleria, which I hiked the previous week, came out for a few seconds.
Although everything in Boquete is so green from all the rain, the poor light that day made for some great black and white photo opportunities. But after an hour at the top, we soon realized things weren’t getting any better. It was time for us to tackle the descent before any of that rain made it our way.
Now if you’ve made it to the top, you will have already realized that the descent is not going to be easy. In fact, it may be more difficult than the climb. The ropes you used to pull yourself up on the climb are equally challenging going down, especially going backwards. There are plenty of slippery rocks, and you’ll find yourself grabbing for any available tree branch for help. But probably the toughest part is actually back on the road. The last steep climb back to the car will test your legs one last time!
Despite not being so lucky with the weather, it was another great days hiking in Boquete, Panama
For this hike you should plan on about a 40 minute drive from town to the parking area. It took us an hour and forty five minutes to get to the top, and and an hour and ten minutes to get back to the car.
Please make sure to take plenty of water and snacks, you will need it! As recommended by my friends, for the first time in almost 5 months I wore long pants to hike in. Your legs will appreciate it if you do too.
If you have any questions about this hike or others in Boquete, please let me know. If you have any other recommendations for hiking in Boquete, Panama, please let me know too!