The first trail I set out on when I arrived in Santa Fe, Veraguas was the Cerro Tute Hike. At La Qhia hostel, where I would stay for the week, they have a big map and I just chose the one with the highest elevation. I like to get as high up as I can early in a visit to a new place so I can understand the geography of the region.
The hike took me 2.5 hours up and 1.5 hours down and an additional 1.5 hours at the summit hanging out, taking in the view and of course taking some photos. It is relentlessly steep. There were few moments on the way up Cerro Tute where I went downhill and you just have to push yourself to the summit. The hike takes you up almost 1000 meters in elevation once you reach the summit, which is solid climb within two hours.
HOW TO GET TO CERRO TUTE
To find the trailhead you just head down to the town center and head south along the main road towards the ‘Alto De Piedra; sign. As you walk south down the road out of the town center this ‘Alto de Piedra’ sign will be on your right. Walk past this for another 20 meters and there will be a dirt road, big enough for a car, on your right. This is the start of the trail.
Normally, I would never use a hiking stick or hiking poles but I suggest you grab something for this trail. My suggestion is not for the incline but to fend off some crazy dogs. You won’t need to actually use your stick but it helped me keep some wild guard dogs at bay that charged out their fence at me until the owner called me back.
The trail is dirt the whole pay and a car-width the whole way. You will only need to make two turns and I will make it clear where those are with photos. It begins alongside some houses and quickly becomes quite muddy. The mud was only in this early section, which also had a couple of easy river crossings. Stepping stones made it possible to cross without getting your feet wet.
After 30 minutes of hustling up the hills, I reached an intersection. Luckily, there was a local lady in her front yard and she told me to take a right. Nervously, I followed her instruction and it was of course correct. This is the intersection at which you should turn right.
The incline didn’t ease up and it is a bit of a battle. You will reach a Y intersection. There is a sign that says ‘Cerro Tute’ and seemingly an arrow that points to the right towards a house. Don’t go right stay on your trail and continue straight. You will actually be in front of Cerro Tute for most of the hike and then slowly make your way around the left-hand side of the mountain until you arrive on the backside. Here you will make the ascent of the mountain up a defined trail.
As I neared the mountain, I thought I was going to have to find a small trail but you continue all the way to the back and there is a very clear, wide path that will lead you all the way to the top. Below is a photo of the trail you need to take to lead you to the summit.
The trail to the summit took about 30-minutes and was another battle. 1000-meters in just over two hours is no mean feat. Luckily the view is amazing and makes the sweat-soaked t-shirt all worth it.
I made it to the top and saw that there are three rocks, as you can see from the road before you begin the hike. To get to the second and third rock you need to make your way through a bit of a jungle path. If you are afraid of spiders this is your worst bloody nightmare! Thousands of spiders had created a blanket of webs across the entire area. To make it through I had to lead the way with a stick otherwise I would have been attacked by the spider army.
I hung out on rock two for quite a while as it had some good protection from the wind and rain. It was awesome watching the clouds build up, swarm towards me, rain and then pass over only for more to follow. The cycle moved so quickly. I managed to wait for a couple of breaks in the rain to send up the drone.
It was awesome to see the summit from an aerial perspective. However, the wind was so strong that the drone simply could not fly into the wind. In full sport-mode and head on against the wind, it was moving backward. I decided that with only a few minutes of battery left to land it on the path to the summit and collect it on the way down. It was the only way and the trusty drone lives to die another day.
I ran up the third rock and there is actually a decent path that will lead you there if you don’t mind a bit of a scramble. It isn’t too crazy but definitely not for everyone. As always know your limits and just trust your instinct whether a climb, jump or trail is for you.
I really loved Cerro Tute and it was a great first experience in Santa Fe, Veraguas. I recommend doing it as your first hike even though it is quite long. You will get great views of the area and can even pick out a few other peaks you might want to summit also!
CERRO TUTE MAP LOCATION
The following map was embedded from WikiLoc, which tracks peoples route up the trail so you can see exactly where to go and compare it with Google Maps to see if you are on the right track. This one was pretty accurate for Cerro Tute Hiking Trail.