Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is a beautiful location just a 20-minute drive from La Fortuna. The trail is about 2.5 miles long with only 300 feet of elevation gain (850 feet total, especially if you walk down to and back up from the Morpho Azul waterfall). It is a very comfortable and safe setting, yet it offers the opportunity to see the local flora and fauna up close and from above the forest canopy. There is an admission fee for the self-guided walk, and hiring a local guide adds a bit of cost, but it is worth it to learn more about the area and the multiple species that can be spotted along the way. There are shuttles to the local hotels and to La Fortuna, so it is not difficult to get to reach.
There is a restaurant, restrooms and parking lot at the park entrance. The walk starts through the gardens and quickly winds down the forest. The trail is very well maintained, and it is mostly paved or stabilized with rocks and blocks. It goes over 16 bridges, six of which are hanging bridges. Some of the bridges are very high, offering a unique opportunity to observe the forest from a whole different perspective.
Wildlife is abundant, though it is not always easy to spot. Black howler monkeys are common, and it is hard not to notice them if they are howling. Reptiles include lizards and several snake species -a lot of them are venomous, so do not approach them. Vipers often lay still on the same spot for days, blending in with their surroundings almost perfectly, which is why it is useful to hike with a local guide. And of course, there are hundreds of birds that can be observed in the park, with the jacamar and motmot being some of the local favorites.
As the drive back to La Fortuna goes by the Arenal Lake, you may want to stop to see the sunset and the volcano if the weather is right.