Trail of Falls
La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica
The Trail of Falls, located within the splendid wildlife and nature park of La Paz Waterfall Gardens, grants the hiker the ability to visit five different waterfalls—access is via a suspended metal staircase that penetrates the intense cloudforest vegetation and ozone-laden air. This truly spectacular trail follows the course of the Rio La Paz as it cascades almost 5,000 feet down the slopes of the Poas Volcano—the river plunges down this steep ravine in less than 5 miles, resulting in a remarkable series of waterfalls. The first of the falls, El Templo, plunges 104 feet over a precipice into a pool surrounded by lush tropical vegetation—viewing platforms and a bridge offer unique perspectives on the cascade. Continuing downriver, the metal staircase that clings to the cliffside descends towards the second and highest cascade—Magia Blanca (White Magic) measures in at 40 meters, or 131 feet high. Viewing platforms encountered along the descent place you both above and below the waterfall—one platform allows you to observe the deafening crash of Magia Blanca from a mere twenty feet under the drop-off! This exhilarating trail continues downhill via the sturdy steel stairways until it dead ends at three balconies, from these vantage points you can see Encantada Falls (19 meters/65 feet) and its lesser counterpart, Escondido Falls, as well as the brink of the final cascade—La Paz Waterfall (110 feet). In order to see La Paz Waterfall in all its glory, you must drive or walk along the public highway that passes right in front of the cascade. Once you reach the end of the trail, now having descended somewhere around 400 steps, you can opt to climb back out of the gorge the way you came, or catch the free shuttle provided by the Gardens that takes you back to the reception area—we took the easy way out, and jumped on the bus. Back at the parking area, we loaded into our 4WD Bego and headed for Arenal, stopping along the way to snap a few pics of La Paz Waterfall from the road—pura vida.