There is more to Torres del Paine than just the “Circuit” and the “W”; numerous shorter hikes can be just as spectacular.
Mirador Lago Grey and Mirador Ferrier
From the Lago Grey ranger station near Hotel Lago Grey, a short trail leads through the forest to the lake’s vast windswept beach, where you can watch house-sized chunks of bluish ice bobbling on the pale waters. To the left of the beach, by the jetty, a fairly steep unmarked trail skirts around the cliff before giving you an unobstructed view of Glaciar Gray. The most spectacular viewpoint of them all, Mirador Ferrier, lies a stiff two-hour hike up from behind the ranger station. From up there, you get a jaw-dropping vista over the park’s many lakes, their colours ranging from aquamarine to greyish white. At the top, you make your way through forest before emerging among exposed rocks; bring warm clothes as the icy wind can be ferocious.
There’s a three-and-a-half-hour signposted walk from the guardería at Laguna Amarga to Laguna Azul, a secluded and little-visited lake in the northeast. From there, a mostly gentle four-hour trail leads past Laguna Cebolla to Lago Paine. It used to be possible to hike to Lago Dickson and cross the narrowest part of the lake to Refugio Dickson, but the boat is no longer functioning, though if you are on horseback, you can wade across Río Paine and continue along this trail to a viewpoint overlooking Glaciar Dickson.
Another seldom-trod path takes you up to Mirador Zapata, a steep six-to seven-hour climb from Guardería Lago Grey at the southern tip of Lago Grey, itself a four-and-a-half-hour walk from the park administration building, rewarding you with views of the ice cap and the magnificent Glaciar Pingo. Campamento Pingo is half an hour into the trek, and Campamento Zapata an hour and a half from the mirador, making it an ideal overnight stop.