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Salkantay Trail: Lucma Lodge to Machu Picchu



6.7 mile 10.8 kilometer point to point
63% Runnable


Ascent: 2,309' 704 m
Descent: -3,384' -1,031 m
High: 9,215' 2,809 m
Low: 5,836' 1,779 m


Avg Grade: 16% (9°)
Max Grade: 58% (30°)


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Trail shared by Ken Roberts


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A long descent through lush foliage providing rarely seen views of Machu Picchu.

Ken Roberts

Features River/Creek · Views

Runner Notes

This is not the greatest route for trail runners. Portions of the descent are a bit steep and uneven, and in March when we visited there was quite a bit of mud.


This section of the trail leads from Lucma lodge to, in our case, the train station at Hidroelectrica. Trekkers can continue on by foot, or take the train to Aguas Calientes (as we did).

Most of the trail is dense with vegetation, which closes in on the trail from time to time. There is a great variety of plant life here, and overall the impression is jungle-like.

The highlight of this section of trail is the views of Machu Picchu at a distance on the other side of a lush valley. This is a view not often seen by those on foot, and it places the site of Machu Picchu in context with the surrounding terrain. Bring your binoculars so you can see it better.

While this is not the "Inca Trail" often associated with trekking to Machu Picchu, parts of this trail are Inca Trails. By this I mean that the Inca built all kinds of trails in this area, and if you look closely at the earlier parts of this trail, you'll see the stonework that is characteristic of Incan work.

There is a set of ruins along the trail that make for a nice diversion or snack stop. The purpose of these ruins is unclear, but our guide suggested that it might have been as simple as a competing vision of where Machu Picchu should have been built.

The trail crosses a river over a sturdy but somewhat bouncy bridge and continues into Hidroelectrica, where the train station is. There are places to buy refreshments, including beer and ice cream. There are two trains, one of which is cheaper and only for locals, and one of which is more expensive and only for tourists.

Trekking poles were helpful on the trail at times at some steeper points, and due to mud which made things slippery at times.

What really made this great was getting our first views of Machu Picchu itself, which is one of the highlights of the Salkantay route.

Flora & Fauna

Lush, varied vegetation abound on this leg of the trail.

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in Peru


4 Views Last Month
556 Since Nov 5, 2015



A view down into the valley as we work our way around the hill toward Machu Picchu. Part of this trail is on the old Inca trail system, and if you look closely you can see the stonework. There is a classic hike to Machu Picchu called the "Inca Trail" but, in reality, the area is full of Inca trails.
Feb 9, 2016 near Santa T…, PE
One of the reasons people take the Salkantay route to Machu Picchu is that you get a unique view of the ruins that few people see. Here, in the upper middle section of the photo, is our first view of Machu Picchu. You can see the terracing on the downslope.
Feb 9, 2016 near Santa T…, PE
View from the bridge over the river on the way in to the train station.
Feb 9, 2016 near Santa T…, PE
Lucma lodge. No heating system - doesn't need one.
Jan 5, 2016 near Santa T…, PE
The ticket office. There is one train for the locals (cheap, tourists not permitted) and another train for tourists (much more expensive, locals not permitted).
Feb 9, 2016 near Santa T…, PE
The waiting area for the train. It is possible to trek the rest of the way to Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu, but we took the train.
Feb 9, 2016 near Santa T…, PE


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