Torres Del Paine W Trekking Route

→ West to East

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Brief Descriptions

The W trek can be broken into three sectors which are:

WESTERN END: Grey Sector
This includes the trek beside Grey Lake and Refugio Grey to Refugio Paine Grande.

CENTRAL PART: Cuernos Sector
This includes the trek into the French Valley.
Refugio Paine Grande to Cabañas Cuernos, Domos Cuernos and Refugio Cuernos, and then on to Refugio Chileno.

EASTERN END: The Estancia Sector
This includes the trek to the base of the Towers.
From Refugio Cuernos and Cabañas Cuernos (or Domos Frances) to Refugio Chileno and then up to the Torres Base and down to Hosteria Las Torres, and the Refugio Torre of Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp and the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre.

To start this trek at Refugio Grey you will either:

Becoming from Los Perros and be on the full Circuit Trek.


Have come over on the Navegation Grey boat from Hotel Grey.


Have trekked from Refugio Paine Grande to Refugio Grey the previous day having taken the catamaran from Pudeto to Refugio Paine Grande.

Western End – Grey Sector

Refugio Grey to Paine Grande

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio Grey

End: Refugio Paine Grande

Trek Time: 4hrs

Distance: 11km

Difficulty: Medium.

Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.

Altitude Gain: 485m


From Refugio Grey the path is reasonably flat for the first 1hr or so, passing through a wood, crossing over some small streams and then it will start to go up a little. There will be various opportunities to see Grey Lake on the right. The hike will undulate a little until it starts to go up in order to reach a flat plateau area in the woods at an altitude or 485m. On the ascending stretch you can stop and look back to where you have come from and see a marvellous view of the Glacier Grey in the distance.

Once in the wooded area and walking the flat sector it will not be long before you reach the path that is downhill and takes you all the way to Refugio Paine Grande. The entire trek from Refugio Grey is marked as 3.5hrs, but some people take 4hrs and some do it quicker than 3.5hrs.

Central Part – Cuernos Sector
Paine Grande to Refugio Cuernos via the French Valley

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Refugio Paine Grande

End: Refugio or Cabañas Cuernos, or Domos Frances

Trek Time: Allow 5hrs if trekking direct to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos and 10hrs if trekking into and out of the French Valley. If staying at Domos Frances take one hour of these times.

Distance: 24km if going via the French Valley and 13km if going direct to Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos. If staying at Domos Frances these distances will be about 2.5km less.

Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.

Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.

Altitude Gain: 1,100m


From Refugio Paine Grande the well-trodden path leads towards the Cuernos of Paine in the far distance. The path is level, going up a little in parts, passing through woods and over small streams. The view to the right is of the Nordenskjold Lake and later on the amazing sight of contorted layers of ancient sedimentary rock in the hills the other side. After about 2.5hrs you will arrive to a rickty-looking pedestrian hanging bridge, like something out of an “Indiana Jones” movie. The other side of the bridge is the non-serviced camp ground called Italiano, but if you turn left after crossing the bridge you will be on the path into the French Valley. To get to the end of the French Valley and back will take 5hrs, but you can, of course, not go all the way to end and cut it short.

The French Valley part is a steady up-hill trail reaching an altitude of around 900m at the non-serviced Camp Britanico located about 1hr before at the “end” of the valley. However, if the weather is clear the views in the French Valley are spectacular, especially around Camp Britanico. Here, after traversing rivers and passing a beech-tree (lenga) wood, the skyline is dwarfed by granite spires and the “Paine Grande” – the highest mountain peak in the Park at 3,050m above sea level. The return trek will involve back-tracking until your reach the non-serviced camp ground of Camp Italiano again. From here you will continue towards Domos Frances – about 1hr trek from Camp Italiano, and a further 1hr or so is Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos. The path from Camp Italiano is a little up and down, but nothing too strenuous and it follows beside Nordenskjold Lake.

Central Part
Cuernos to Refugio Chileno

Operated: Between September to end of April

Start: Domos Frances or Refugio and Cabañas Cuernos

End: Refugio Chileno

Trek Time: Allow 5hrs one way.

Distance: 11km to Refugio Chileno, and 13.5km if from Domos Frances.

Difficulty: Medium.

Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.

Altitude Gain: 500m


This trek passes through a beech-tree wood and continues along the northern shore of the Nordenskjold Lake on the right, with its amazing dark-bluish water and on the left hand side the breathtaking granite spires of Los Cuernos. The hike is along medium-difficulty terrain, with some hills, but every time you reach the top of a hill there is an amazing view.

After about 2hrs 30mins the path will start to veer up. At one point you will come across a fork where you will have an option to forgo the destination of Refugio Chileno and head, instead, to the beginning of the trail head at Hotel Las Torres. However, considering you will be heading to Refugio Chileno, you will walk up hill for about 1hr 30min or so until you get to a point where the path narrows and bends quite sharply to the left. This is the entrance to the Ascensio Valley. Here it is OFTEN VERY WINDY and you need to be CAREFUL. To the right is an acute decent down to the valley floor and river – people HAVE ended up down there and not survived. Once you are past this bend the path starts to go down and after about 1hr you will arrive to the Refugio Chileno.

Estancia Sector to the Mirador Las Torres
(or Torres Base as it is also known)

Operated: Between end of September to end of April

Start: Refugio Chileno

End: Hotel Las Torres, Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, ECO Camp or Refugio Chileno. And, of course from the Torres del Paine Welcome Centre, which is located in this area.

Trek Time: Allow 2hrs up from Chileno, 2hrs back to Chileno and then 2hrs down to Hotel Las Torres or 2.5hrs down to Refugio Torre Central, Refugio Torre Norte, the TDP Welcome Centre and 3hrs if heading to ECO Camp.

Distance: Refugio Chileno to Torres Base and back down: 11km approx

Difficulty: Medium to high. Involves up-hill sectors, and scrambling up and over boulders.

Experience Required: None, but you need to be reasonably fit and accustomed to long walks.

Altitude Gain: 866m.

Refugio Chileno to the Glacial Moraine Sector
This takes about 1hr along an undulating trail, steep in short sections. There are two river crossings, with bridges, and a dense lenga (beech tree) forest (older than 100 years) to walk through.

The Moraine Sector

This takes 1hr approx, uphill, over and between large boulders of glacial moraine, which is the most difficult part and walking poles are very helpful. Since this part of the trek heads north, towards the Mirador, the wind is usually head-on and this makes it more strenuous and difficult than it would normally be.

The Torres Base

Once you turn the final “bend” you will see the imposing spectacle of the vertically-sided giant towers and blue-milky coloured lake at the base. Most people take about 30min to relax, have a sandwich and enjoy the view. However, this is at altitude, windy and cold and it is easy to get “too cold” if you are standing still for too long. At the right time for you, you will turn around and head back the way you came up, maybe stopping off at Refugio Chileno. Once past Refugio Chileno you head back along the same path you came up, to the bend at the entrance to the French Valley, being careful about any wind coming down the valley, and head downhill all the way towards the buildings of Hotel Las Torres and further along will be the Welcome Centre and Refugios of Central and Norte and then ECO Camp. From here you need to meet your previously-arranged private transfer or take the shuttle to Laguna Amarga and the bus back to Puerto Natales or to El Calafate. The El Calafate bus requires previously-bought tickets.

END OF THE “W” (West to East)

Torres del Paine

W Trek Info

Why is it called the
W Trek?

The W Trek in Torres del Paine National Park is called so because the path marks out a “W” shape on the map. The total distance is around 55km.

View W Trek

Full Circuit Trek

W Trekking Route

W Trek & Circuit Treks

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