CERRO LA GAITA HIKE IN COCLE, PANAMA
Every mountain in Anton Valley seemed to surround us as we emerged from the jungle to rise above the canopy on a wooden platform. For the last hour we had trekked up the slipper path and then the stairs that pierced through the dense jungle. We had reached the summit of Cerro La Gaita and the view was glorious!
We parked our car at the bottom of the hill and looked up at the challenge ahead of us and even higher to the ominous clouds. The trail began at a steady incline as we all slipped our way up at a slow pace in the funniest of fashions. If you have hiking shoes with grip this is a hike to bring them out because the early part of the trail, will test your balance. It isn’t dangerous but the clay is very slippery. I ran ahead to grab a quick shot at the crew crawling up the hill with an epic mountain backdrop.
After about fifteen minutes of incline, the calves were burning and finally we had reached a plateau. It was marked by a barb wire fence but it was open and there was no need to jump the fence. Once you reach this fence you are halfway… to the halfway point or the start of the stairs. The trail gets muddy from this point on but you only have about 10-15 minutes until your reach the stairs.
Another fifteen minutes from the barb wire fence and we had reached the stairs. Apparently it is possible to drive to this point from a road on the other side but without a car and a desire to destroy said car I’m fine with the 30-minute walk. I’ll leave that to the professional tour guides and their specialized 4×4 pickups. However, if you are looking to do the trek and think you can only manage the stairs, I’m letting you know it is an option to keep your sneakers clean and just attack the stairs.
The sign at the start of the stairs said 550-meters. Normally a sign at the start of stairs will tell you how many steps so I had no idea how long 550-meters up a staircase would take. It was a beautiful stairway, winding through the dense jungle. At times it was just pure incline and others it wrapped left and right at a less intense climb. I’m not sure who built the stairway but it is a great idea and I’m surprised it comes at no cost to tourists as this trail was free as of August 2018. I really enjoyed making my through these stairs and spent lots of time in different sections studying all of the vines and getting lost in the moody atmosphere.
The stairs took me about 25 minutes but we came down in five minutes. I think 15 of the 25 minutes it took on the way up the stairs was due to photos! It definitely is a short and sharp climb to the top. I was expecting a platform above the jungle but what I found exceeded my expectations.
The stairway wrapped around the side of the mountain and it was a steep final ascent to the summit. At the top we found an empty platform that looked out over many of the other hikes in the region. We were truly on top of the jungle and the view at Cerro La Gaita was one of my favorites so far in Panama.
I literally looked out from this platform and planned my next week of hikes. In every direction I saw a new adventure and I’m so glad I came up to Cerro La Gaita on my first day for a great look at all of the possible adventures in the region!
CERRO LA GAITA TRAILHEAD AND LOCATION
To reach Cerro La Gaita, you will actually cross over into Panama Oeste, another province. However, this trail is only a 20-minute drive from Anton Valle town. The trail begins at the fork to the Laguna de San Carlos. Here you take the road to the left, which immediately heads up the hill. I have included some photos in the blog post for visual reference of the trail and also this Wikiloc route, which I can confirm is accurate and does indeed lead to Cerro La Gaita viewing platform
ADVENTURE BAG FROM CERRO LA GAITA HIKE
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike or the beach. Adventure hard!