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The Lucas Bridges Trail

For the most adventurous

This trail was opened in 1898 by Lucas Bridges and the Shelknam (Ona) natives at the request of the latter, who felt that if the Bridges family took up land on the north coast, they (the Ona) would be protected from other white settlers.  Lucas saw that the land to the north was much better than Harberton for sheep, bought sections and rented others from the government in Buenos Aires.  Then he took herds of sheep and horses over the trail to start a new farm (first called Río Fuego, later Viamonte- www.estanciaviamonte.com), along the Atlantic coast. The employees were nearly all Ona natives.

The trail was quite a rough one. There were over 100 crossings of the Varela and Rancho Lata Rivers on the south side of the mountains, and another 100 or so of the Heinenshiken (Valdez) on the north. The trail ended at the east end of Lago Fagnano; from there the land to the north was more open and no special trail was used. 

In 1916 prisoners from the Ushuaia Prison were used to improved the trail, which was then called the 'Government Road', although it was always a horseback trail, not a road. It was the only 'road' from Rio Grande to Ushuaia until 1937, when a trail was built  to the west and eventually widened into a road. The first vehicle passed over Paso Garibaldi (the future Ruta 3) in 1949. 

The original trail, especially in the valleys, has disappeared with hundreds of beaver dams. At its northern end, the trail has be obliterated by removal of rock from Cerro Heuhúpen to build a pier north of the town of Rio Grande. However, brave souls still hike the trail each summer.  Take care: on many maps the trail is shown as a road for vehicles. This does not exist.

The Lucas Bridges trail:

You can do this on your own with your own equipment, as many do. Natalie Goodall has a rough map she can give you at Harberton. There is also a book at Harberton for signatures of those who have crossed the trail.  Also, Luis Turi (www.companiadeguias.com.ar) does hiking tours over the Lucas trail, and Sendero Indio (www.senderoindio.com.ar) organizes horseback tours from the east end of Lago Fagnano to Harberton. Obviously, this is not over the exact original trail, which is mostly under water, but gives you a good idea of the trail. 

· Estancia Harberton · Tierra del Fuego · Argentina · turismo@estanciaharberton.com ·