The Pipeline Trail Boquete is another out-and-back trail that works its way gradually uphill, at first along a gravel path through farmland before entering the jungle. The path continues to be clear but is more uneven underfoot, littered with tree roots. The trail passes a tree that is over 1000 years old, having survived two major eruptions from Volcán Barú, gives you the opportunity to spot the stunning Resplendent Quetzal bird (sadly we didn't) and takes you to a beautiful waterfall (perhaps not as impressive as those on the lost waterfalls hike, but lovely all the same).
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How to get to the Pipeline Trail
There are three options to reach the Pipeline Trail Boquete; 1) local bus. 2) taxi, and 3) hitchhike.
1) Local bus
This is always our go-to option and it couldn't have been easier. Head to the collectivo stand on the corner of Calle 1a Sur & Avenue Belisario Porras and simply ask the drivers which bus goes to the Pipeline hike. The journey takes about 20 minutes and will drop you at the end of the driveway to the entrance. It should cost $2 (they may try their luck & quote more but if you explain you know the price should only be $2 they will probably accept this amount). Coming back, the buses should pass by roughly every half hour so all you need to do is flag one down. We actually started walking back towards town (will me dragging my feet as I really didn't want to walk the 3 hours back to town!!) but thankfully about 25 mins along a bus came and we were able to stop it and hop on.
A taxi should cost you between $8-$10 so could be a good option if there are 4 of you, otherwise the bus is cheaper. You may be lucky and find a taxi passes by for the return journey (we saw one whilst walking along the main road) or you could try and arrange for your driver to come back but you would need to agree a time which could be tricky and I'm not sure if they would charge more for this.
Hitchhiking is also a good option if there is no bus or taxi in sight. I heard a few people that did this and whilst we were wandering along the main road between hikes (we did the Lost Waterfall and Pipeline hike in one day) a car voluntarily stopped and asked us where we were going and if we would like a ride.
The trailhead is about 1.2km closer to town than the Lost Waterfalls hike trailhead, so we actually did these two walks on the same day. We took the bus up to the Lost Waterfalls hike first and then walked down to the Pipeline trai head after. We then caught the bus back to town from the Pipeline trail.
Is there an entrance fee to the Pipeline Trail?
Yes, the Pipeline Trail costs $5 per person to enter. At the top of the driveway from the main road, you will come across a small hut on the right-hand side, behind which is a house. If the hut is unmanned you can go into the property grounds and try and locate a family member. We found a lady shooing her geese out of the pen and she came back down to the hut with us so we could pay the entrance and sign in. She asked us to make sure we found her to sign out, so she knew we had returned safely. She had some snacks for sale at the hut and offered us bamboo walking sticks to use for the hike for free (we took them although you’d probably be fine without them).
Distance and time needed to complete
I feel like for all the hikes we did from Boquete you need to allow two hours for the Pipeline Trail!! This one took us just under an hour and a half to complete. The Pipeline trail is an out-and-back trail, with a distance of 6.1km return and an elevation gain of 466m.
Map of Pipeline Trail Boquete
How difficult is the Pipeline Trail?
The Pipeline Trail is not a difficult hike. The path is easy to follow (you are basically following the pipes) but is a little uneven with tree roots and stones. The trail had a gradual climb the whole way to the hidden waterfall but nothing too steep. There are a few small river crossings that are over large pipes so although there is a handrail you need to keep your balance but nothing too tricky.
I would recommend closed-toe shoes for this trail. We had hiking boots on but you could complete this in sports trainers. Walking sandals would be doable but avoid flip-flops.
Description of the Pipeline Trail
From the main road, you walk up a paved driveway until you reach big metal gates marked as private property. To the right, you will see a small hut in the grounds of someone’s house where you pay your entry fee and check in.
Once registered and paid you continue up the paved path through the big metal gates. The wide, gravel track continues for some time, slowly winding upwards.
Soon, you reach the end of the stony track and a smaller, dirt walking path continues up into a more jungle-like landscape. You cross a stream, over a noisy metal bridge and carry on through the trees.
Keep your eyes peeled as it is possible to spot the Resplendent Quetzal here, although sadly we didn’t. However, you cannot miss (as it’s signposted) the impressive 1000-year-old tree that has apparently survived two major eruptions from Volcán Barú.
Eventually, you will spot the hidden waterfall. It’s not as impressive as those on the Lost Waterfalls hike but it’s pretty all the same.
After you’ve taken a few snaps it’s time to turn around and head back down the way you have come. Going down is easier and you’ll soon arrive back at the hut.
What to take with you for the Pipeline Trail Boquete
Sun cream - whilst a lot of the trail is shaded by the trees it is a good idea to apply sun cream.
Insect repellent - in the jungle there be bitey things! We would always recommend a repellent containing DEET.
Snacks - If this is the only walk you are embarking on for the day you probably don't need a full-on packed lunch but a piece of fruit or a couple of biscuits could be a good idea,
Camera - It helps with memories ;)
Summary of the Pipeline Trail Boquete
The Pipeline Trail Boquete is a nice straightforward hike, a nice way to get some fresh air and see a bit of jungle. The waterfalls are more spectacular on the Lost Waterfalls hike however due to the terrain being a lot easier underfoot you get more chances to appreciate the jungle. If you were trying to decide between the Lost Waterfalls and this one, ignoring price I would probably say the Lost Waterfalls hike slightly edges it but you should definitely try to squeeze this hike into your Boquete itinerary especially as it is so easy to do alongside the Lost Waterfalls hike!
If you are looking for a hike where you do not have to pay an enterance fee, why not check out La Piedra de Lino hike?