Cycling Laguna del Laja, Chile
Ride 18.3 kilometers gaining 735 meters at 3.6% average grade.
Thanks to Ard Oostra, Switzerland and Heiko Linnert, Germany for their contributions to this page.
Summary by Ard Oostra, Switzerland:
This climb epic climb begins in the Chilean commune of Antuco (population 3,862 in 2012) very close to Chile’s central eastern border with Argentina.
What this climb lacks in difficulty it more than makes up for in beauty.
The Andes stratovolcano Volcan Antuco is visible to the east as we climb.
Peak 2,979 meters; first recorded eruption 1624 and most recent activity 2013
The wide asphalted road leading towards the national park entrance has hardly any slope. When the asphalt changes into gravel some kilometers before the entrance the slope gradually increases. Once we pass park headquarters the road widens and increases in grade, but only once into double digits for any 500 meter segment.
Ride on smooth and well marked Hwy Q-45 the first segment of the climb.
The road turns to gravel at kilometer 3.6 and can be a bit difficult on a road bike, but, for the most part, this climb is manageable on a road bike - we used 28 mm tires that were good quality and did not puncture. We enter Parque National Laguna del Laja (29,406 acres; established 1958) at kilometer 9.
Enter the park at km 9.
Gravel begins at km 3.6
The scenery is magnificent along the climb and there is minimal traffic throughout the ride.
Very scenic climb by bike.
The contrast of the clear blue sky against the darkness of the lava fields stark and incentive to keep our head up and appreciate the beautiful surroundings we are blessed with on this ride.
The bright green patches of vegetation on some slopes and along the creeks and river is absolutely amazing.
By the time we reach the park entrance at kilometer 9 (halfway mark of the climb) we see the road we still have to climb hundreds of meters above us. The serpentine roadway works its way up these Andes mountains and at times follows and offers views the large canyon we traverse to reach the top.
Close to the summit we see houses and sheds, some with colorful roofs that make them look like candy in a sea of volcanic fudge.
The last 1.5 kilometers is essentially flat and the roadway surface worsens. The road continues for many kilometers along Laguna de la Laja but we turned back at the southwestern tip of the lake because the road deteriorated significantly around that point.
Laguna de la Laja
This climb is highly recommended as a scenic and mild bike climb in the great cycling country of Chile.