Santuario de la Naturaleza Yerba Loca
Just before the road begins its final ascent to the major ski resorts, it passes the entrance to Yerba Loca, one of Santiago’s best hiking and mountain biking options. Even in winter much of this scenic high mountain area remains snow-free. Donated to the comuna of Las Condes by former fundo owner Hans von Kiesling and now under Conaf management, this national monument gets far fewer visitors than it deserves.
Sights and Recreation
From the ranger station at Curva 15, the former vehicle road is now an excellent 4.2-kilometer trail that takes about 1.5 hours to walk to Villa Paulina, the former fundo headquarters and site of a Conaf campground. Mountain bikers leave their cars at the park entrance and ride to Paulina and beyond.
Continuing north from Paulina, the Sendero al Glaciar is a 30-kilometer round-trip to an ice field at the base of Cerro La Paloma; the shorter Sendero Interpretativo La Leonera is a 45-minute nature trail.
Conaf’s campground (US$3 pp), or at least part of it, occupies an aging pear orchard where it’s possible to collect fresh fruit in the fall. There are good picnic tables and clean flush toilets, but no hot water.
Conaf’s Guardería at Curva 15 collects a US$3 per person admission charge.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition