In the past, Il Pianista has been an overlooked, underrated trail (ok, mostly by me). I really wanted to recommend it because the trailhead is so close to Boquete Garden Inn. But guests who hiked the Il Pianista independently weren’t impressed: it was muddy, difficult to navigate and the Continental Divide wasn’t obvious. They’d get to the blinking cows and turn back.
Here’s the thing: guests who went with a guide loved it – because they knew where to go and what they were seeing. So, we decided to make the hike easier for people to explore alone, with tips and photos, and we are now recommending it as one of the top intermediate-to-advanced hikes in Boquete.
The Il Pianista trail delivers beautiful views and a great workout. The trail is deeply creviced at points from years of use, with walls 5ft and taller. (The Il Pianista trail was the primary walking route for coffee pickers travelling between Almirante and Boquete.) The highlight of this trail is hiking to the Continental Divide (basically, a splitting point: on one side of the divide, rivers flow to the Caribbean, the other side, towards the Pacific).
Lyle (former guest, Hiker-in-Residence, deputy mayor of Boquete) and I decided to go ourselves, scope out the trail and take photos at the points where guests reported getting confused.
Here’s where everybody freaks out: there is a bridge to the left, farm to the right. Cross the bridge. That’s it.
And you’ll also get to the point where there’s a gate. Go ahead. Open it and continue! (Lyle demonstrates in the above photo!)
The rest of the trail has been thoughtfully spray painted with orange arrows – so it really is difficult to lose your way. You know you’re at the divide when you’re at the highest point and the trail ahead of you starts to slope downward again. The views from here are incredible on a clear day.
Trail: Il Pianista
Location: About a 2-minute drive from Boquete Garden Inn, on the right side of the road, to the left of the Il Pianista Restaurant
Time: Approximately 3 hours (1.5 – 2 hours up; 1.25 hours – 1.5 hours down)
Pros: beautiful views, close to the hotel, if you’re lucky, Blue the husky will accompany you up, blinking cows, Continental Divide, cloud forest (better than Evian mist), post-hike calzone and red wine at Il Pianista Restaurant
Cons: muddy – avoid in rainy season
Level: advanced intermediate