Are you looking for a Costa Rica “soft-hiking” adventure that’s easy and enjoyable even with a baby or toddler strapped to you? Or a toddler or preschooler shuffling on foot? That’s exactly what we found at Arenal Hanging Bridges, near San Carlos de la Fortuna (La Fortuna) and a stone’s throw from the family-friendly Arenal Lodge, where we stayed during this portion of our Costa Rica family road trip.
You’ll adventure together along a 3 km (less than 2 miles) self-guided interpretive trail with sturdy suspension bridges across impressive ravines and through the tree tops, with no shortage of wildlife to spy along the way. Just walking across the first wide expanse bridge, we found a group of howler monkeys above us, including a mother howler with her baby clinging to her. With my own 2-year-old on my back, we had to grin and wave.
We also had some nice tropical bird sightings, and watched a highway of leaf-cutter ants paralleling us along the way. My only uncomfortable near-miss with wildlife here was with a bumbling black wasp with bright orange antennae, whose body was as big as two hummingbirds put together. Fortunately, he was as easy to hear coming as he was to see, and we steered clear of each other on the trail.
As you can see in this photo, you’ll cover a lot of ground–and canopy. That silver sliver in the center is another hanging bridge you will cross there in the distance. All of the bridges themselves felt very safe and were enclosed with just enough of a gap at the bottoms to lose a small child’s shoe–which we, thankfully, did not.
Good to know:
- The “hike” took us just over an hour with the kids on foot.
- The trail itself was very shady, so we did not have need for our sun hats or sun block out on the trail, though they will be helpful if resting or dining up at the lookout area above.
- The trail is cleared and easy to follow, and embedded cinder blocks make a non-slip surface in case you adventure through in a drizzle.
- The sand filling the cinder blocks is uneven, however, so do wear your thick-soled walking or hiking shoes, especially if you’ll have the added weight of a child to support.
- Arenal Hanging Bridges is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Children under 12 years are free, adults $24 , students $14, Seniors $19
- There are restrooms (bring your tip) and a restaurant above at parking area.
Hanging Bridges is located at La Fortuna, about 4 km. east of Tabacon. If you are staying at Arenal Lodge, you will be extremely close to the Hanging Bridges driveway, which is the first turn off immediately at the end of the Lago Arenal (Arenal Lake) dam, and is also the driveway to the Lost Iguana. The driveway is approximately 3 km. of steep and winding cobbled road, so be prepared to use 1st gear when necessary.
While you’re there:
Don’t miss the fantastic view of Arenal Volcano from the lookout area. You can plan to enjoy lunch or a treat with a view at the picnic tables or in the restaurant while you’re there.
For more information, visit www.hangingbridges.com.
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