If you’re in Ushuaia, Argentina and looking for a great day hike with awesome views, a trip to the Martial Glacier is a good way to spend a few hours. The Martial Glacier trail starts at the bottom of the ski lift located just above the city. We started the morning by meeting back up with Juilan and Shauna, two Canadian bicycling friends we initially met in Rio Grande. Both are Canadian Park Rangers who spend their summers working, and their winters doing something interesting in a different part of the world. This year they bicycled from Lima, Peru, to Ushuaia, Argentina. The four of us met in the morning at their hostel. The weather was perfect, and Julian and Shauna were busy petting an affable husky who was waddling his way up and down the streets. We walked a few blocks together to Empanaderia Dieguito (corner of Magallanes and Don Bosco), and ate some of the best Empanadas ever. Across the street was the Ushuaia fire department, and one of the bomberos (firefighters) was grooming the station dog who seemed to think he was in charge.
With bellies full of empanadas, we jumped in Mango, stopping at the hostel to pick up a backpacker whose name I’ve forgotten, but whose face and beanie cap bear a striking resemblance to “Where’s Waldo?” From there, we drove uphill a few miles to the base of the ski area. You can access the ski road from Calle Leandro N. Alem, turning onto Calle Aldo Motter which winds its way up the mountain. The road curves around some upscale hotels with great views, and at some point turns into Calle Luis Fernando Martial. At the large, dead-end parking lot, there is a small ski lodge serving snacks. The trail for Martial Glacier starts here.
Map of Ushuaia, Argentina and start of Martial Glacier Trail.
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From the ski refugio parking lot, you essentially walk up the ski slope trail until you get to the top of the lift. Next, the trail follows a burbling brook through the woods, and a few minutes later you’re above treeline. What really makes the trail special however, is the awesome views. Behind us was the city of Ushuaia, and expansive views looking across the Beagle Channel towards Chilean Patagonia. In front of and around us were many trees, and we were lucky to be there during the perfect climax of fall when all the leaves were really putting on a show. I don’t think I’ve ever seen leaves so brightly colored – that’s probably why I took so many pictures. We never actually saw the Martial Glacier that day. If you look at a satellite view, it doesn’t even seem to exist anymore. I think it’s probably shrunk down to a few snow piles on the side of the mountain. However, even though there’s little snow to throw at your hiking companions once you reach the top, you won’t mind. You’ll be too busy taking in the 50 mile view across the Beagle Channel, staring in giddy amazement as you contemplate how beautiful it is at “the end of the world.”
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The full gallery of our hike to the Martial Glacier is located below.