A complete guide to hiking to Los Pinos in Minca, Colombia. Includes the best routes, hiking information, and tips for experiencing an amazing view in Minca, Colombia.
Looking to visit the amazing Los Pinos viewpoint over Minca, Colombia? I’ve got you covered in this quick but useful hiking and adventure guide!
Here, I’ll cover everything you need to know to visit Los Pinos peak, including how to get here, what to expect, and photos to inspire your jungle trekking adventures!
Featured in: 21 Awesome Things to do in Minca
- About the Los Pinos Viewpoint Hike
- The Famous Minca Hostels Near Los Pinos
- Where is the Los Pinos Viewpoint?
- Los Pinos Trail Minca – Complete Guide
- View Over Minca From Los Pinos Peak
- Return to Minca
- Alternative Ways to Get to The Los Pinos Viewpoint
- Where to Stay in Minca
- More Colombia Travel & Adventure Inspiration
About the Los Pinos Viewpoint Hike
The Los Pinos peak is a scenic viewpoint at the top of the small mountain town of Minca in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.
This viewpoint offers some of the most spectacular views over the town and spans all the way out to Santa Marta and the Caribbean Sea. While there are several amazing viewpoints and hikes in this region, Los Pinos is commonly mentioned as one of the best!
However, this view has to be earned! It's quite a long, steep climb to get here but let me assure you, the long hike is worth it!
Additionally, there are several options and optional side trips on this route, which I'll cover in this guide.
The Famous Minca Hostels Near Los Pinos
Before we get into the hiking information, you'll want to know about the epic hostels just near Los Pinos. Besides the views, these hostels are the reason why so many people make a trip up to this mountain ridge.
The most notable is Sierra Minca, which recently won an award for the best hostel in South America! This one is famous amongst backpackers and adventure travelers for its great vibe, amazing location, and of course, its world-renowned net hammocks!
The reviews are top-notch and many travelers talk about this being the best hostel they've ever stayed at.
Sierra Minca also has a zip-line running over the jungle canopy which is awesome! If you're planning to hike to Los Pinos, then I highly recommend stopping by this incredible Minca hostel.
Tip: If you're looking for Casa Elemento, this is now permanently closed.
If you prefer to stay the night, this Los Pinos hostel even arranges transport from town, meaning the hike to the viewpoint is much shorter. Alternatively, many people choose to stay at Sierra Minca as a stop on the longer Cerro Kennedy hike, which offers the best views in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Where is the Los Pinos Viewpoint?
Los Pinos is located at the top of Minca just off the side of the road called "Cerro Kennedy Oriente" at an altitude of roughly 1265 meters above sea level.
Below are detailed directions to get here.
Los Pinos Trail Minca - Complete Guide
- Hiking Distance: 22 kilometers (13.6 miles) return from Minca
- Duration: 5-8 hours return
- Elevation: Approx 900 meters (2950 feet) total elevation gain |
Los Pinos altitude: 1265 meters AMSL (4150 feet)
- Difficulty: Moderate
The truth is, offering the exact hiking data for the Los Pinos viewpoint hike is a little difficult, since there are so many routes and short side trips you can take.
However, to make things easier, the above information is what I recorded on my loop from Minca. This is a popular way to hike up to Los Pinos, but don't worry, I'll offer some other alternatives below as well.
My Route - A Breakdown
The route I took followed the common starting section from Minca town via the "Ear of the World" waterfall and the popular Marinka Waterfalls. These are two amazing jungle waterfalls that break up the hike really well and should definitely be on your hiking itinerary!
However, instead of taking the steep shortcut trail up to Los Pinos, I took the longer, more gentle road option, and descended back down on the steep trail from Marinka Falls (more info below).
More info: My Strava
Minca to Oido Del Mundo
The first leg of the hike starts from the main tourist beat of Minca town. A good reference point is a white church near the busy restaurant strip. From here, continue down to the very end of this road and follow it for approximately 1 mile.
There aren't many turns to worry about on this mostly unsealed road. Just stick to the main road and it's very difficult to get lost.
After approximately one mile, you'll arrive at a small detour leading into the jungle. This is the Oído del Mundo (Ear of the World) waterfall, a beautiful and very quiet freshwater swimming spot.
We decided to take a look first thing in the morning, but you could also save this for the end if you're following my route to the Los Pinos viewpoint.
Oido Del Mundo to Marinka Waterfalls
The next leg is a short 1.2-mile journey up the same road to Marinka Waterfall. This section continues to follow the same road, which winds and climbs gently up the range. This section is not very steep at all, and quite enjoyable.
Along the way, you'll pass some small stalls and tiendas, and a few hotels and cabañas as well.
Eventually, you'll arrive at a fork on your left leading up to Marinka Waterfall. Again, having left nice and early, we wanted to take advantage of the fewer crowds. So, we decided to stop at Marinka Falls as well.
Marinka Waterfalls are a beautiful set of two large, jungle falls. The lower tier has a deep swimming pool which is perfect for cooling off in! There's also a restaurant and small cafe on-site, where you can get breakfast or a coffee at a reasonable price.
Related: 4 Waterfalls in Minca
Marinka Waterfalls to Sierra Minca
The next section up to Los Pinos has two routes.
- Option 1: Walk the road to Sierra Minca
- Option 2: Walk the jungle trail to Los Pinos
The first option is slightly longer but is far less steep. To follow this route, simply walk back down the unsealed road to the fork (at the turn-off for Marinka Falls). Then, continue up the same road all the way up the mountain.
This route is a little less interesting since it's mostly road walking. However, there are still loads of opportunities for birdwatching and a few clearings offering fantastic views of the valley below.
The second option involves hiking a steep trail through the Reserva Natural Tierra Adentro.
The trail begins on the left just outside of the entrance gate to Marinka Waterfalls. This route is slightly shorter but is very steep. It climbs up through the reserve and passes scenic coffee, banana, and cacao plantations, as well as a famous Finca, called Finca La Semilla (which offers coffee tours).
We chose to hike the road so that we could bypass the famous Sierra Minca hostel on the way. We then hiked to Los Pinos (explained below) and returned down the jungle trail to Marinka Falls. If you're following along and choose option 2, scroll down and read the return info.
Sierra Minca to Los Pinos Peak
After a long, 3.6-mile road walk, we arrived at Sierra Minca. This hostel is absolutely amazing, and there was an incredible vibe here! While the zip-line looked super fun, we decided to push on straight to Los Pinos.
From Sierra Minca, simply follow the road until you reach a small fork with a signpost pointing to "Los Pinos".
This route looks like it enters someone's house, but it actually goes around it, climbs up a small ridge through a banana plantation, and pops back out onto the road, just near Los Pinos.
This is a shortcut and the recommended trail to Los Pinos from Sierra Minca.
View Over Minca From Los Pinos Peak
The Los Pinos viewpoint is a small clearing on the top of a ridge. There are a few logs spread out across the edge, which makes for a great spot to sit, relax, and enjoy the view. Above, there are large pine trees that are fenced off.
The view from Los Pinos is quite amazing. On a clear day, Santa Marta town is visible on the edge of the ocean, as well as the 360 Mirador and adjacent ridges falling back to the sea.
The viewpoint also offers uninterrupted views of Minca town and its many hotels, lodges, and coffee & cocoa plantations. The altitude here is roughly 1265 meters above sea level, resulting in a refreshing temperature that is much cooler than on the coast!
If you continue down the same road for roughly 200 feet, you'll come to a beautiful restaurant serving food and warm drinks. We refilled our bottles here and prepared for the long hike back down to our hostel in Minca.
Return to Minca
From here, you'll have three main options to get back to Minca.
- Hike the jungle trail via Finca La Semilla and the Tierra Adentro Reserve
- Follow the same road back
- Form a longer loop all the way to Minca via Pozo Azul
As mentioned, we decided to take option 1 and walked down the steep jungle road passing the plantations and fincas. From Los Pinos, double back towards Sierra Minca, and instead of walking back through the wooden gate and over the banana plantation, begin the descent down the unsealed, rocky road directly beside it.
This trail was one of the most beautiful tracks we'd hiked in Minca so far. It begins as a quite wide road that quickly narrows and winds its way through fields of banana and coffee trees. It's difficult to get lost on this section as there are signs at every turn pointing to Los Pinos and to Marinka Falls.
Near the bottom at the start of the Tierra Adentro Reserve, you will also discover some amazing freshwater streams that are perfect for a quick jungle shower!
If you're planning to take this trail on the way up, you can instead take option 2 to hike the road down. In my opinion, the steeper, shorter trail is a better option since it's much more scenic and the descent is much easier than the ascent.
Otherwise, you can continue past Los Pinos following the same Cerro Kennedy Oriente all the way to the small village of El Campano. This is the fork where you can also begin the hike to Cerro Kennedy (overnight).
But, if you're heading back to Minca, you'd turn left here and follow this sealed road (Cienaga - Minca) all the way back to town, passing the popular Pozo Azul and (not so popular) Cascada Encantada on the way. This forms a large loop which is an excellent option if you want to hike to all the main natural attractions in Minca in one long day!
Alternative Ways to Get to The Los Pinos Viewpoint
Don't feel like walking all the way up to Los Pinos but still want to check out the view?
Of course, you can also rent a motorbike in Minca, or hire a moto-taxi driver to take you all the way up! The fee is roughly 25,000 pesos for a one-way journey up to Los Pinos or Sierra Minca. You'll find the moto-taxi guys just beside the yellow bridge near the Colectivo stop in Minca.
Alternatively, if you're planning to stay the night near one of the famous Los Pinos hostels, then you can also get transport up here. If you book your accommodation online at Sierra Minca, message them through the Booking.com platform and ask for transport.
Where to Stay in Minca
The main town of Minca is quite small, and you'll discover that some of the best places to stay are on the jungle foothills of the surrounding mountains. Below I've included the current top-rated options for various budgets. But, don't miss this guide to where to stay in Minca for more options & a neighborhood breakdown.
While everybody knows about the famous Sierra Minca, there are several other great places to consider as well. Minca has some of the best hostels in South America, and the unmissable ones sell out frequently, so it's best to book in advance!
- Stay at an Organic Cacao & Coffee Farm: Finca San Rafael - This is where I stayed, and it was one of my favorite lodges in all of Colombia. Set in the jungle just outside of town, this beautiful oasis offers a pool with mountain views, and private or shared rooms, and offers plantation tours to learn about the cultivation process of cacao and coffee.
- Finca Carpe Diem Ecolodge - 9.6/10 rating on HostelWorld with over 800 reviews! This is an absolute backpacker heaven with 3 swimming pools, and amazing jungle views, and is well-located close to amazing hikes.
- Casas Viejas - Winner of the best hostel award in South America! Unfortunately, this place was booked out when we visited, but many claim that this is one of the best hostels in the world!
More Colombia Travel & Adventure Inspiration
I hope that this guide to hiking to Los Pinos viewpoint in Minca, Colombia has been useful!
While you're here, make sure to check out some of my other blogs and travel guides to Colombia. I've spent a great deal of time documenting my adventures in this beautiful country, and I'm sure you'll find something you didn't know existed!
Saturday 25th of February 2023
I haven’t trekked much before and based my route completely off of this - it was a really thorough and helpful guide, so thank you!
Excluding stopping off at waterfalls, it takes maybe an hour of walking to reach Marinka Falls from Minca - you pay 10,000 COP to enter Marinka and it is very touristy, but that does mean that it’s easy to access the pools beneath the falls if you want to. It then took me just over an hour and a quarter to reach Sierra Minca and a further 20-30 mins to Los Pinos (the ridge walk here was the one part of the route that was super tiring on the legs).
For the way down, there were hardly any signs - about 10 minutes down the path there’s a little green sign opposite a gated house that points down for Minca - any other signs that I saw until near the end were for travellers coming the other way. That said, the path is quite simple to follow - there are one or two occasions where it looks like it might split in two, in which case just go with the more defined path (and they probably reach the same place anyway). Once you reach Finca and the the Tierra Adentro nature reserve you’re almost there. The descent from Los Pinos to Marinka took just over an hour. Make sure you have good footwear as it does get steep in places - I definitely wouldn’t want to hike up it!
From the falls the descent to Minca took 45 mins, so that’s maybe a total of 3 hours ascending on the road and 2 hours for descending through the jungle and then road. Obviously you’ll want to stop off at waterfalls/ streams/ the viewpoint at Los Pinos, so I wouldn’t leave any later than I did at 9AM (I got back at 5, managing to stop off at various places on the way).
Whilst the road-walk up isn’t itself exciting (especially from Marinka to Los Pinos), it’s punctuated by some really good scenery and a few waterfalls, then the viewpoint at Los Pinos was nice and the jungle descent was fun - it’s a decent option for a day hike in Minca. And if you do go, screenshot the directions from this page, because they were very useful!
Sunday 18th of December 2022
First of all, thank you so much for this guide, it is very accurate and helpful. I opted for the long road to go up and the steep one down. However, I only saw a sign once and there sometimes were options whether to go down left or right. I think they all come together again at some point and I just chose one or the other without having signs guide me. I would recommend to not do this trail by yourself, if something happens chances are you are waiting for a long time. I only met one group that went up the whole time I was there. There also was a part where I didn’t know what the best way to go down was as it was a deep gouge and the walls were very slippery. I opted for slipping down on my bottom when I got totally stuck :) The Malinka waterfalls were very rewarding afterwards. I am not a seasoned hiker and took things slow, I started at 9am and was back in Minca at 5.30pm, I would recommend starting earlier than I did.