Two main trails originate from Pirre Station. One is an easy two-kilometer loop trail that leads to a series of waterfalls just 15 minutes away from the station. It’s a real Blue Lagoon scene. The first waterfall is about five meters tall and pours into a deep pool filled with cold, clear water and surrounded by deep green vegetation.
Those feeling adventurous or foolish or both can climb the sheer, slippery face of the first waterfall and follow the river to two more falls. Be aware that there are several ways to get seriously hurt doing this, and it’s a long, long way to a hospital from here.
Hernan Araúz, probably the top Darién guide in the country, nearly bit it not once but twice here. The first time he scrambled to the top of the waterfall only to come face to face with an annoyed fer-de-lance snake. He had to dive back down the waterfall and was lucky not to break his neck. The second time he slid down the face of the waterfall in a more measured way, only to get pushed underwater by the fast-flowing current; his companion had to dive in and pull him out.
So don’t attempt to clamber around without a good, strong guide to help you. Throw rocks into the brush at the side of the falls to scare away venomous snakes. Watch your step at the higher falls; it’s easy to step out into space and fall into a chasm. Be prepared to swim hard when you slide back down the first waterfall, especially if wearing lots of jungle gear. And make sure someone’s always nearby in case of an emergency.
A fork in the middle of the loop trail leads up to a clearing that has a communications tower, but it’s a tough, two-hour climb up a steep incline, and clouds usually obscure the view.
The Cerro Pirre trail leads up the mountain, starting in the forest and coming out onto an exposed ridge that skirts the mountain, rather than climbing to its summit. It’s a fairly steep hike, very steep at times, with lots of ups and downs. Expect the trail to be muddy and slippery. It’s a moderately strenuous trail and only reasonably fit hikers should attempt it.
It takes about two hours at a rapid clip to get to Rancho Plástico, which, despite its name, is only a reference point and has no facilities. It offers a view of the Río Balsas. Theoretically one could continue along the ridge for two days before turning back. Note that this trail does not link up with Cana’s Cloudforest Trail on the other side of the mountain.
It’s possible to camp along the ridge, but there are no facilities.
It’s especially important to have a guide on this hike. The trail is not well defined and is not being maintained. It’s easy to get lost, and tree falls sometimes completely block the way. If you’re alone and get lost or hurt, there’s a real chance you won’t make it out.
© William Friar from Moon Panama, 3rd Edition