Jardin is a small town south of Medellin that not many people seem to talk about. It feels like a mixture of Italy and Colombia combined with breathtaking scenery. The coffee region of Colombia did not disappoint. There are many activities to do here. Most of these activities involve seeing a waterfall like the famous Cueva del Esplendor. In this post, I will be talking about Cascada la Escalera and the other 3 waterfalls you can see on this hike.
I could have spent triple the amount of time in this town that I did. Everyone seems to know everyone and all the backpackers come for the same reasons. It is not difficult to find someone to go hiking with you.
During this guide, I will lay out the details on exactly how to get to Jardin as well as the exact trail to get to Cascada la Escalera and beyond.
What is Cascada la Escalera
La Escalera is a waterfall located right outside of the town of Jardin. It reaches 60 meters in height. Its name comes from the way the water flows down because of the rock formations along with it.
It is amazing for canyoning. This is where you’re attached to a rope and you descend your way down the waterfall. This area of Colombia is amazing for these types of adventure activities.
Along this same trail, you’ll find 3 other waterfalls. This is an all-day adventure. The other three waterfalls are called fall of the dragon, Cueva de Los Guacharos, and Salto del Angel.
How to Get to Cascada La Escalera
In order to get to La Escalera waterfall, you will first have to make your way to Jardin. We came from Salento but it is also common to come from Medellin.
Salento to Jardin
This is the route we took as we flew to Salento from Santa Marta. It is a very easy route to figure out but it is long. This is in large part due to the rocky roads and hills. In total (including time changing buses) we traveled for 9 hours. Below will be the instructions on how to do this trip.
- Salento to Riosucio: only one bus per day at 9:45 AM (cost is $38,000 COP)
- Riosucio to Jardin: This is where you’ll get off your bus and wait for a different one that goes to Jardin.
- It was on a collective bus with row seating. The worst part was the roads and how bumpy of a ride it was. The cost was $20,000 COP.
Medellin to Jardin
This is a much easier route as far as the road conditions and is quicker.
- Make your way to the bus terminal del Sur
- The company is Rapido Ocacho. This is who we took back to Medellin and it was great. There is another company you can take as well.
- This cost will be between $25,000 and $34,000 COP. Expect a 3-hour journey
- A popular website to buy bus tickets from in Colombia is called redbus.
Jardin to Cascada la Escalera
The route is simple. You will want to head to the east side of town and then begin to walk north crossing the river. Below I will give you the exact location on the map.
You can also drive a vehicle up until the trailhead. I hiked the entire thing and it wasn’t too bad.
Places to Stay in Jardin, Colombia
- Sgt Pepper’s Hostel: This is the hostel that we stayed at during our time in Jardin. It was a great location and only $10. This included breakfast. I highly recommend staying here.
- Charco Corazon: A little further outside the city is a laidback hostel. This is an eco-friendly green hostel with chill vibes. It costs $9 to stay here and includes breakfast.
- La Tángara Hostal Rural: Located even further outside Jardin is a wonderful hostal. This is a little pricier at $16 but includes breakfast. If you want to stay closer to the mountains then I suggest that you stay here.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
Cascada La Escalera Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 6.1-mile loop hike. This depends on if you go to the other waterfalls or not. This could add on another potential 5 to 8 miles.
- Duration: It will take 2-4 hours to complete depending on how long you stay at the waterfalls.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as easy – moderate for the first waterfall. If you go to the other waterfalls then it becomes more difficult. This is mainly due to the soft terrain and mud.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1400 feet or 425 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
I would suggest checking out Alltrails if you want to hike further to the other waterfalls. If you only want to go to Cascada La Escalera then here is a good wikiloc route. As always, be sure to download maps.me and the map of Jardin.
My Experience Hiking Cascada La Escalera
Starting the hike from the center of Jardin was very easy as most of it is on the road. The map above will show the route to take along the road until you get to a sign that says, Cascada La Escalera. The walk from the town center to this sign is around 1.7km or a little over 1 mile.
From here you’ll start a slight incline. It doesn’t go for too long until you reach another sign.
Hang a right and continue down this path. After crossing a small river with the water flowing over the road you’ll be at Cascada La Escalera.
Cascada La Escalera to Fall of the Dragon
Directly from Cascada La Escalera, you can reach 3 other waterfalls. I only went to the first one Fall of the Dragon. I think it’s totally worth it but you have to be ok with getting a little dirty along the way.
After you spend your time at Cascada La Escalera, keep following the trail until you hit the house. Go on the right through the gate.
This will lead you to a river where I had to take off my boots and socks to cross.
From here you will follow a relatively easy trail. This trail will lead you to multiple gates and cow pastures. This was the worst part of the hike for me and multiple times my hiking boot sunk into deep mud.
No harm no foul though as I kept pushing along. Right before you go back into the jungle you will be in the most picturesque valley in Colombia. I absolutely loved the views from here.
Keep following the sound of the Fall of the Dragon waterfall. This will lead you slightly up and over until you get to a small trail.
Cueva de los Guacharos & Salto Del Angel
From here you have a choice. Either cross the waterfall and keep going to the other two or turn around. I chose to keep going at first. I took my boots off and crossed the water.
From here the trail became thicker with vegetation and slightly more demanding. This was alright because there were a few look-offs at different views of Fall of the Dragon waterfall.
You will eventually get to a no trespassing sign according to all of the guides I have seen on Alltrails, mapsme, and wikiloc. I decided to turn around here but I’m sure I would have been fine if I kept going.
I followed my footsteps back and headed home. Except for this time I took a slightly different route home. Instead of following the same road home, I went the other way.
This leads you to a great overlook of Jardin as well as a wonderful coffee shop. I highly recommend doing this.
My Final Thoughts on Cascada La Escalera
This was the first solo hike that I have done in a while and I really enjoyed it. The weather held up for the most part and the views were spectacular. If I was with a group I would have most likely gone past that no trespassing sign but I’ll save it for next time. Overall I really enjoyed this area of Jardin and would highly recommend hiking to Cascada La Escalera and beyond.
Thank you for reading my guide on Cascada La Escalera and the other waterfalls past it. I hope this helps you out when planning your trip to the lovely town of Jardin.