Hiking up Ancon Hill was one of our favorite things we did on our recent trip to Panama City, Panama. The Cerro Ancon nature preserve is not only the highest point in the city but also one of the last undeveloped areas of Panama City, Panama.
Which makes it a stellar spot to see wildlife and get a stunning view of Panama City.
Whether you’re on the hunt for sloths, toucans, or other Panamanian wildlife or you are just looking for the best views in Panama City — Ancon Hill is the place for you.
This blog post shares everything you need to know about hiking to Cerro Ancon nature preserve and why Ancon Hill is a must-do activity when visiting Panama City.
Quick facts about Ancon Hill
- Trail names: Ancon Hill hike or Cerro Ancon
- Distance: The trail to the overlook is 2.2 miles or 1.6 kilometers
- Elevation gain: 544-foot or 166-meter gain
- Cost of entry: Free
- Difficulty level: Easy
- Trail type: Out and back
- Time to complete: 1 and a half to 2 and a half hours
- Trailhead location: Google Map pin
How to get to Ancon Hill
Ancon Hill is located just a short 10 to 15-minute drive from Casco Viejo, one of the most popular neighborhoods in Panama City, Panama.
Taking a Taxi or Uber is by far the fastest and easiest way to get to Ancon Hill. It only cost us USD 4 for an Uber ride and we got to the trailhead in under 15 minutes. We took a taxi back because one passed as we were walking back to the trailhead and agreed to match the price we were quoted for an Uber home.
If preferred, you can take public transportation to Ancon Hill. This is definitely the cheapest option coming at under $0.50 but will take around 30 minutes to get there.
If you want to take a bus to Ancon Hill from Casco Viejo go to Parque de Santa Ana and hop on the bus route C862. Ride 7 stops and get off at Mi Pueblito which is where the Ancon Hill trailhead begins. There is a parking lot at Mi Pueblito that offers free parking if you have your own vehicle.
Is there a fee for Ancon Hill?
There is no cost of entry to visit Ancon Hill Panama City, Panama. There is a guard area where you are asked to sign in sharing your name, home country, and phone number. This is to ensure everyone who hikes the area comes back before closing the gates each evening. I also believe it’s a protective measure to ensure the homeowners who live at the bottom of Ancon Hill are ensured a level of safety.
What to bring to Ancon Hill
Panama City can be an extremely hot and humid place to visit. Being from Florida, we are used to both heat and humidity, but Panama City managed to surpass our expectations in that department.
Humidity is at its worst in the rainy season which lasts from May to November each year. However, high temperatures are expected even during the dry season (December to early April). The Ancon Hill path is shaded making it a nice reprieve from the harsh sun. However, it’s always a good idea to bring sun protection like a sun hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved SPF shirt if you burn easily.
Sweating so much thanks to Panama’s heat and humidity will make you dehydrated quickly. Aim to drink a liter of water every two hours when spending time outdoors. We walked Ancon Hill with our reusable water bottle which has a built-in water filter.
We drank an LMNT hydration pack after our walk to help replenish the electrolytes we lost on the outing. LMNT has the same benefits as drinks like Gatorade or Pedialite without adding nasty ingredients or unnecessary sugars.
This one goes without saying, but wear comfortable hiking shoes. Dennis loves his Altra hiking shoes while Liz wore her Allbirds sneakers (which are washable)! We suggest wearing breathable clothing. It gets hot on this trail, even with all of the shade. Of course, you’ll want to bring any photo or video gear with you – we saw so much wildlife on this trail you’ll definitely want a good camera. 📸
Get the gear here:
- 👕 Long-sleeve SPF shirt
- 🕶️ Sunglasses (we love that these are made from recycled plastic)
- 🧢 Sun hat
- 🥾 Hiking shoes or Allbirds sneakers (washable)
- 📸 Camera equipment
- 🚰 Reusable water bottle
- 💧LMNT hydration packs
What to expect hiking Ancon Hill
Ancon Hill in Panama City, Panama isn’t really a hike. Rather, it’s more of a walk. The buildings at the top of the hill were once used to oversee the Panama Canal when it was occupied by the United States government. In 1977, when President Carter signed a bill relinquishing control back to Panama, this area was vacated and turned into a nature preserve.
This is why the path the entire way up the hill is a paved road. It is still open to local traffic, though we only saw a few cars pass through during our walk.
The hike officially begins at the parking lot. You’ll walk by several apartments and private homes first before you see the sign for Cima del Cerro Ancón. Continue up the paved road until you reach the entrance gate where someone will take down your information.
The second you start the hike you’ll start to notice the dense jungle all around. There are thick trees, wildflowers, towering palms, and loads of vista points that give you breathtaking views of Casco Viejo and the Pacific Ocean.
We made sure to keep our eyes peeled as we were walking up the hill for wildlife. The lack of development on Ancon Hill allows animals like agouti, snakes, Coati, butterflies, birds, poison dart frogs, capybara, and sloths to flourish here.
We had a ton of luck spotting wildlife on our walk up and down Ancon Hill. We saw two agoutis and a snake. Then right before we got to the top, we saw a sloth hanging out in the tree!
Once you get near the end of the path you’ll see a large set of stairs. Take these stairs up and you’ll get to a platform that offers two different viewpoints of Panama City, Panama. One overlooks the Panama Canal and the other overlooks the Bridge of the Americas (Puente de las Américas).
This is also where you’ll find a massive Panamanian flag nestled between the palm trees. This flag was put up in 1977 when Panama was given control of the Panama Canal. And has been flying proudly ever since.
There are public restrooms at the top of the hill and several benches to rest on if you need a break. We loved taking in the views from the top. Even though there is more foot traffic up here, don’t stop looking for wildlife. At the top of the hike, we spotted a poison dart frog and a massive centipede!
It took us about an hour to walk up the hill (we were walking with two young children) and take our time to enjoy the views and scenery. The path back is the same road you came up on. We had cell-service the entire hike so when you are ready you should be able to call an Uber or taxi without issue.
Hiking Ancon Hill is a fantastic way to spend some time outside, see amazing wildlife, and get incredible views of the city. Make sure to add Cerro Ancon to your Panama travel bucket list. If you’re looking for other fun things to do in Panama City, Panama check out this blog post here.