Torres del Paine National Park is known for its impressive glaciers and beautiful lakes, and one of the best ways to experience both is by hiking to Grey Glacier (Glaciar Grey) at the end of Lago Grey.
As the biggest and most spectacular glacier in Torres del Paine, Grey Glacier is not to be missed. Its sprawling ice sheet, glistening blue hue, and floating icebergs are a picturesque reward for completing the long day hike to Grey Glacier.
About the Grey Glacier Hike in Torres del Paine National Park The Grey Glacier trail forms the western arm of Torres del Paine's famous W Trek. The trail can be done as a day hike, albeit an ambitious one, if you don't want to do the full W or stay overnight at a refugio.
To do the day trip to Glaciar Grey, you need to take a ferry to the trailhead. Having to adhere to its schedule creates some pressure to complete the hike by a certain time, but the good news is that there's a wonderful view of Grey Glacier about halfway into the hike if you're running short on time.
The Grey Glacier hike ascends through a valley then roughly follows along the shoreline of Lago Grey before eventually arriving at a viewpoint near the base of Grey Glacier.
The Grey Glacier day hike is approximately 23 km round trip and takes about 7- 8 hours to complete. It's rated hard (with some moderate sections) and has an elevation gain of 573 m/1880 ft. The Grey Glacier Day Hike- Our Experience Hiking to Grey Glacier
The Grey Glacier hike was the third segment we completed in our attempt to hike much of the W Trek as day trips.
Our day hike to Grey Glacier began with a ferry trip across Lago Pehoe from Cafeteria Pudeto to the Paine Grande refugio, where the trailhead is.
During the 30 minute boat trip we enjoyed wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, including Cerro Paine Grande and the distinctive Cuernos del Paine (Paine Horns).
After disembarking the ferry at Paine Grande, we set out on the trail heading east towards the Paine Grande ranger station. We were expecting to have to show our park pass, but no one was at the ranger booth to check it.
Just past the ranger station we turned left where the trail splits, heading away from Lago Pehoe and towards a small valley. The trail gradually gained elevation as it made its way through the rocky, grass-covered valley. Near the end of the valley the trail got much steeper, revealing views of some surrounding mountains and providing a great vantage point for admiring where we had just hiked. After a short break to take off our rain gear, we continued our ascent. The trail was framed by lifeless trees, short shrubs, and small hills- scenery that reminded me of parts of our hike to the French Valley the day before.
Once the trail turned and headed west, I knew we were getting closer to the lake. To my surprise, it wasn’t Lago Grey that was waiting for us at the top of the hill, but rather Laguna Los Patos, a small lake that sits between Lago Grey and the hiking trail. This was by no means a disappointment, since Laguna Los Patos was quite pretty. There were windswept conifer trees along the shore, several small rocky islands, and snowcapped mountains in distance.
Leaving the viewpoint, the trail headed north along Laguna Los Patos, keeping near the shoreline almost the entire time. At the end of the lake the trail cut across some open land that’s less sheltered from Patagonia’s intense wind. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t as insane as what we experienced on our first day in the park!
During this section of the hike we got to enjoy some elevated views of Lago Grey. Even though the trail doesn’t get close to the shore here, we still could see some icebergs floating in the water after breaking off from Grey Glacier.