When looking for hiking spots near our house, we stumbled upon Catarata Río Agrio, a beautiful looking trail that leads you through the forest and over a rushing, winding river to a big waterfall. We hadn’t gotten the chance to see a waterfall since moving to Costa Rica, so we were looking forward to a different kind of hike and a new experience! From Atenas, it took us about an hour and a half to get to the entrance of the park. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the huge dinosaur sculptures that look like they belong on a mini golf course. Yup… a big one right as you enter the parking lot. At the time, I didn’t quite understand why they were there. Once we actually got further into our hike and closer to the waterfall, I had my “aha” moment. Simply put, you feel like you’re right in the middle of Jurassic Park, but you’ll see more of that in a bit.
As soon as we pulled in, the sweetest little dog greeted us and stayed by our side as we followed the signs to the entrance of the trail. He kept on running ahead and looking back as if to say, “you guys coming?” It was the cutest thing. It was a rainy morning, so the walk up to the entrance was misty and cool; just beautiful. We followed our little friend up to the entrance, past another dinosaur, and onto the trail. As we got further down the trail, we could hear rushing water and knew we were close to the first bridge that goes over the river.
This was my favorite part of the trail! We were now following the river, huge rock faces on either side of us and beautiful plants all around. I half-expected to see a dinosaur emerge from somewhere at any second. There were so many beautiful spots to stop and take it all in. We made our way to the last bridge, making friends with more dogs along the way (not kidding, we saw at least two more dogs roaming free on the trail while we were there), until we finally got to the end and…
BEHOLD. A massive waterfall! Cliff faces left and right! A path of rocks leading to the highest point right in front of the waterfall where you just want to stand, put your hands up, and holler some intelligible noises into the misty air! I didn’t do that, though. There were some other people around and I really didn’t want to alarm them. So I put my hands up and just smiled, yelling in my head YOOOOOOOOLALALALALALAAAAALLALAAAAABLUHBLUHBLUHBLUHBRRRRRRRRIIIIINGAAAHHH!
I was satisfied. It started raining. Our clothes were getting soaked. We didn’t care. It was magic.
- Wear proper hiking boots and dry gear – it was extremely muddy and wet when we went.
- Bring a change of clothes and a towel for after the hike. There are showers near the entrance where you can rinse off in case you get muddy (or fall in the mud like I did).
- Bring mosquito repellent (just in case, we didn’t need any).
- Bring snacks. There is a restaurant at the entrance where you can also get a bite to eat. Gallo pinto, plantain, and French fries are pretty much the only vegan options.
- We are unsure if you are supposed to pay in order to gain entrance to the trail. There wasn’t anyone around when we started walking up to the trail, but if you ask inside the restaurant, they might ask you to pay for entrance, who knows? (sorry, this tip probably isn’t very helpful)
- Plan to spend two to three hours on the trail.
Río Agrio is a must if you’re looking for hiking spots in Alajuela. On our drive there, we noticed multiple entrances for other waterfall trails, so we are definitely planning on going back to explore! When eating at the restaurant near the park entrance, we noticed a sign for a natural pool in the area called Pozas Celestes. We’ll be going back to visit that as well, so stay tuned ;)
Have questions or comments? Don’t be shy, let us know below!