From Lonquimay we decided to take the scenic dirt track through reserva nacional China Muerta, and follow up with an agreed upon push-a-bike connecting the eastern end of Lago Collico directly with the lakeside town of Caburgua. We had it on good authority (Disclaimer: no one actually seemed to know much about it) that the “road” was possible with a 4×4, and the heavy traffic along the lakeshore was enough in itself to convince us to give it a try. While not all rideable, the four of us enjoyed the challenge of a less traveled route and some beautiful descent. Not a single vehicle passed us up on the trail, I’m not sure that it would’ve even be possible. To be truthful, this route defines that age old quote stating the journey is more important than the destination. Pucon itself is not the most hospitable destination for a cycle tourist on a budget, but the journey makes up for it.
Unlike the last post, I’d like to keep this brief so we’ll let the photos do the talking. The standard dirt sections up to Laguna Collico are beautiful and straightforward, and this direct route is a good option for those travelling light and looking for a bit of beautiful trail to ride. Check out Tam and Danny’s much more detailed take on this route as well by clicking here!
Thanks to Nathan (Velofreedom) for his route notes. It’s a great resource to use up until Lago Collico where we begun our trail.
Trail notes here are copied from Danny and Tam’s blog. (Thanks)
– Lonquimay to Melipeuco: Perhaps the nicest bit of riding on the Monkey Puzzle Trail through the China Muerte Reserve: beautiful, quiet, smooth dirt roads. Melipeuco is a decent-sized town with all amenities and open wi-fi in the plaza.
– Melipeuco to Trafanpulli: We continued on the pavement to Cunco then headed south to Puerto Puma. The tarmac turns to smooth ripio at Lago Colico. Some traffic, most appeared to be tourists. Probably a very quiet route in winter. Trafanpulli, on the northeast side of Lago Colico, is not really a place, just a few houses here and there, but it marked our turnoff.
– Trafanpulli to Pucon: We took an adventurous shortcut directly to Lago Caburgua rather than staying on the main road through Reigolil and Curarrehue. It`s marked as a trail on Open Maps and is easy to find and follow (with GPS). There is a solid climb from 350 meters to 1140 over 14 kilometers, of which maybe 2/3 is ridable, the rest being too steep, too rocky, too muddy, or all three. The 6 km descent to Lago Caburgua is about 90% ridable, more for a strong rider. Expect mud if it has rained in the past few days.
With no views, this route may be less scenic than the long way on the road, but it certainly was more interesting! We began the ascent around lunchtime and reached the top around camp time, so the whole thing, Colico to Caburgua, is definitely doable in a day.
Once at Caburgua, there is a great dirt alternative to the congested, narrow highway into Pucon. Turn right before the turnoff to Ojos del Caburgua, and ignore the signs directing you back to the main road. Best to have a GPS, as there are lots of little tracks going nowhere.
Contact us for information on a free, quiet camp spot just a few kilometers from Pucon. I`d rather not post it here, as it`s probably illegal.
For more information just get in touch with us and we can send you our gpx file too!