About seven kilometers east of Puerto Natales on Ruta 9, nudging the Argentine border, the hike to the Sierra Dorotea ridge makes an ideal half-day excursion, offering some of the area’s finest panoramas.
Marked with red blazes and signs, the route to Cerro Dorotea’s 549-meter summit is, after the initial approach, unrelentingly uphill but never exhaustingly steep.
This is not pristine nature—much of the lower slopes are cutover lenga forest, some of which has regenerated itself into an even-age woodland. Crowned by a telephone relay antenna, the ridge itself is barren.
Trailhead access is over private property, where farmer Juan de Dios Saavedra Ortiz collects US$7.50 per person. The fee, though, includes a simple but welcome Chilean onces (afternoon tea with homemade bread, butter, ham, and cheese) on your return from the hike.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition