Papallacta, located approximately 60 kilometers east of Quito, is best known for its magnificent volcanic hot springs. Nevertheless, there is a rewarding three-hour hike through pÃ¡ramo and patches of cloud forest just behind the Termas de Papallacta Resort (see Thermal Hot Springs).
On the hill just to the right of the entrance to the hot springs is a visitor information/environmental education center where you will have to pay a small entrance fee to access the trail. From the education center, follow the marked trail for about 10 minutes until you reach a wooden bridge that takes you onto a small island amidst the mountains. Continue up the trail for a few minutes to a fork. Go right for about 15 minutes until the two paths merge again at another bridge. Walk another 100 meters up to a dirt road and concrete bridge. Here you will see another gate. Go in and follow the trail until you reach a patch of cloud forest.
About 20 minutes from the gate, you will come to an intersection of trails. Take the trail that goes east and then north into the cloud forest. Continue north for about half an hour until you reach yet another intersection. Here you can either go left on the main trail or continue north on a secondary trail for about 40 minutes until you reach a waterfall tumbling down the east slope of the valley.
If you choose to go north in search of the waterfall, you will have to feel out the route as you go, which can be difficult because itâ€™s not well trodden. The round-trip takes about three hours.
Near Quito, Papallacta, Ecuador