Soberania National Park is the most accessible national park from Panama City, and the perfect nature-filled day trip for the whole family. Just 45 minutes from the city, this park sits near the banks of the Panama Canal on the canal zone construction site, and spans 55,000 acres. The park contains dry rainforest, countless animal species, and the Chagres River, which runs through the middle of it.
When you visit, be sure to check out the Panama Rainforest Discovery Center. This beacon of ecotourism and environmental education features a spiral staircase that will allow you to rise above the canopy of the rainforest, with its top deck reaching 32 meters high.
Hiking options abound in Soberania National Park, and if you love birds, you’ll want to start on Pipeline Road. This road holds the record for the most bird species spotted in a 24-hour period—357 species to be exact. That number includes exotic birds such as toucans, trogons, motmots, flycatchers, woodpeckers, hawks, and tanagers, along with extremely rare birds such as the red-bellied woodpecker, crested eagle, yellow-eared toucanets, sirystes, rufous-fantail, ground cuckoo, and the harpy eagle, which is an endangered species.
For an especially scenic hike, take Plantation Road. This is a gentle, sloping 8-mile trail that will take you past viewing points for waterfalls, wildlife and interesting tropical plants such as cocoa, rubber and coffee trees.
For a hiking adventure with a bit of history, opt for the Camino de Cruces. This trail was built in 1527 to link Old Panama City to the port of Venta de Cruces on the bank of the Chagres River. From this port, goods like textiles, spices, gold and silver were loaded onto ships to be sent back to Spain, and you can still see some of the road’s original stones to this day. The full length of the road reaches all the way to the Caribbean coast, but you can choose to hike it in shorter parts, as well.
Finally, bring the family to El Charco Trail for a bit of relaxation. Located just 1 mile away from the Municipal Park Summit just outside of Panama City, you’ll find natural swimming pools, beautiful trails and plenty of picnic areas.
Soberania National Park is an easy 30 minute car or taxi ride from Panama City.