Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
-240.00 ft (-73.15 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
10.50 km (6.52 mi)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Aguas Calientes is the gateway town to Machu Picchu. Most visitors to the iconic Inca ruins spend at least one night here after arriving by train from Ollantaytambo. The railroad is in fact the only vehicular access to this place, which is tucked beside a whitewater river between near-vertical, thickly forested mountains. The tracks continue through Aguas Calientes toward the next-closest populated place, Hidroelectrica ("Hidro" for short), which is 10.5 kilometers by rail to the west.

Pedestrian traffic along the tracks is allowed, and the section beyond Aguas Calientes makes a nice day hike if you have time to spare, and if you don't mind the occasional clattering of a passing train. This rail corrider is in fact the way that many locals and tourists alike reach Aguas Calientes after driving to Hidro. It is also the final section of the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu.

Hidro is on the far side of Machu Picchu Mountain and around a long bend in the river gorge. The gorge is walled by black and yellow-streaked walls of granite and draped in jungle greenery. The river tumbles over boulders down below and a thick canopy closes overhead. If you continue far enough around the river bend, you can look up to see the terraces and walls of Machu Picchu perched high in the sky atop a huge and impassible vertical cliff.

The best scenery is within the first 5 kilometers from Aguas Calientes, so you can turn around once you've had a satisfying glimpse of the distant ruins. The bridge over the river makes a good turnaround point. If you continue all the way to Hidro, you'll find several small shops and restaurants surrounding the terminus of the railway. There are a few restaurants and rest stops along the tracks before Hidro as well, however. To Hidro and back to Aguas Calientes is a hike of more than 20 kilometers, but it's not strenuous.

Do this hike early in the day for pleasant temperatures, a better chance of spotting birds and other wildlife, and few people. The route can get pretty busy around midday with walkers coming from Hidro. Begin the hike by walking the dirt road from Aguas Calientes toward Machu Picchu, but take the right fork before reaching the park entrance. This leads to the railroad tracks, which you'll then follow for the remainder of the way.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Jungle scenery. Views of Machu Picchu.

Cons

Along railroad tracks.

Trailhead Elevation

6,692.91 ft (2,040.00 m)

Highest point

2,040.00 ft (621.79 m)

Features

Family friendly
Guided tours
Near lake or river
Native artifacts
Historically significant
Geologically significant
Wildflowers
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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