THE PIPELINE TRAIL IN BOQUETE, PANAMA
The Pipeline Trail is another great hike in the Bajo Mono region just outside of Boquete Town. Walk alongside a river through the jungle until you reach a massive yet slow-descending cascade at the end of the trail. On the way, you will discover a thousand-year-old trail and some unique wildlife. The trail takes about two hours and is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon when you are staying in Boquete town.
HOW TO GET TO THE PIPELINE HIKE TRAILHEAD
We were staying at Mamallena Hostel in Boquete town. They have lots of offers for waterfall tours and guided excursions. Luckily, you can save yourself the money and make this a DIY adventure because it isn’t very hard at all to organize the logistics. These are the following steps for how to reach the Trailhead of the Pipeline Hike in Boquete.
- Catch a public bus, known as a ‘Colectivo’, which will come through the main street. They don’t come incredibly regularly and the fee is $3 one-way. An alternative is to catch a local taxi. Carlos, a local driver convinced us to come with him in his taxi for $8. There were three of us so it was actually cheaper than the bus. The advantage of the taxi is that they will drop you much closer to the trailhead than the bus.
- Once you arrive in the Bajo Mono area, you will drive past the Basalt climbing wall and the old castle. There will be a sign that says waterfall this way. Don’t go that way. Turn right at this sign and continue along the road.
- You will see a blue wooden waterfalls sign. Stop here. (This is where the Colectivo will stop anyway and where you will wait to be picked up by the Colectivo)
- There is a wooden sign with the trail marked. Keep walking and there are a few houses. The locals will pop out and ask for the $3 Pipeline Trail entrance fee.
THE PIPELINE TRAIL
Once you arrive in Bajo Mono to the junction of hikes you begin to see just how many trail options you have. Signs point in all directions towards waterfall hikes and wildlife trails. We were heading out on the Pipeline Trail, which is a 2-3 hour out and back trail. The trail begins at the Cascada Escondida sign. However, ‘PIPELINE TRAIL’ is also painted on the left pole of the sign as you can see above.
From here you can’t get lost at any point as there is only one defined path the whole way. About three minutes after the sign you will come across a few houses. A local lady and two kids came out to collect the $3 Pipeline Trail entrance fee.
As we started the trail, we were alert and on the lookout for howler monkeys, snakes, the elusive Quetzal and any cool signs of life after not finding much wildlife on the Lost Waterfalls Hike.
The path is flat with relatively no incline. This is a very relaxing stroll through the jungle suitable for all ages and hiking abilities.
The trail has lots of cool little bridge crossings, some of which are made from tree trunks while others are man-made. There is another key feature of this hike, which is man-made. It is, of course, the pipeline that runs from the waterfall all the way to the start of the trek. In some parts, it is hidden under the luscious greenery. However, it is often exposed and is a bit of an eyesore at times. There is nothing more enjoyable than feeling entirely immersed in nature and the pipeline is a bit of a reminder that you aren’t that far away from Boquete.
One thing I loved about Boquete was the jungle setting. In one scene you can have bamboo and small tropical plants and then looming in the background is a 1,000-year-old tree with an enormous trunk. You just get a huge variety and it swallows you as you make your journey along the trail. Watch out for the wildflowers of all different colors as you adventure in Boquete!
There is an awesome tree about halfway into the Pipeline Trail. The sign says it is approximately 1000 years old. This tree manages to make you feel insignificant twice. Once by dwarfing you and twice by being 50 times older than you. The roots were just twisted and intertwined in a way that only years of growth can create. Not that we would ever want it to happen but this would just be the most epic treehouse tree ever!
After about an hour of very slow-paced hiking (we take way to many photos and stare at caterpillars for 20 minutes), we made it to the open corridor that leads to the waterfall. It had been raining for many days before we did the Pipeline Trail so we thought the waterfall might have been flowing. If it was flowing hard it would have been insane. It tumbles over the edge of a cliff and there is a huge gap behind the fall. It would essentially, freefall of the cliff as if it were being poured out of a bottle. I’d love to see that!
The waterfall was flowing but it was just a light stream of water cascading down the cliff onto the ground, hardly making a pool of water at all! On our way back to the start of the hike we came across some wildlife. Finally, our Nat Geo moment had arrived. We had found a sleek looking black snake and a poisonous caterpillar. Panama has some awesome wildlife and we had seen sloths and vine snakes in Bocas Del Toro and now snakes and… caterpillars in Boquete. Hopefully, we will catch the Quetzal on our next hike!
Hope you guys enjoy the hike! Stay safe and leave the trail as it was. Take photos, not souvenirs. Lots of photos…
PIPELINE TRAIL MAP LOCATION