Home to turquoise beaches and scenic natural wonders, Mexico is always a dream destination for travelers looking for somewhere idyllic and leisurely to unwind. Little do they know that besides lounging on beaches, Mexico tours offer some of the best hiking trails for those who want to stay active.
If you are up for the challenge, grab your hiking essentials, stretch, and come with me as I tour you through the best hikes in Mexico.
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1. Pico del Águila
The hike with the most stunning panoramic vista
- Location: Cumbres del Ajusco National Park
- Distance: 2.8 miles (4.5km) roundtrip
- Maximum elevation: 3,900 meters (12,800 ft)
- Duration: About 3 hours
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
If you are one of those hikers who love challenges, hiking the forested slopes and rocky peaks of Pico del Águila should be at the top of your bucket list.
The climb to the summit of Pico del Águila is most definitely challenging. Less than 25 miles (40km) south of Mexico City, you will find Pico del Águila in the Cumbres del Ajusco National Park. The challenging hike in Mexico is relatively short, averaging around 2.8 miles (4.5km) for a round-way trip that could cover about three hours. So, given the short distance, it would make a great day trip from Mexico City.
What makes it challenging, though, is the steepness of the climb. Conquering Pico del Águila is no easy feat as you must ascend more than 2200ft (671m) to reach the lofty summit, which sits at 12,795ft (3900m) above sea level. But hey, as they say, nothing worth having comes easy. Still, all your effort will surely be worth it, as one of the best hikes in Mexico will reward you with breathtaking panoramic views of the rolling valleys and the distant metropolis of the capital.
The best part is that the journey through the terrain is just as enjoyable and scenic as the views from the top. Take the time to unwind and savor the cool, fresh air as you walk through forests of oaks, firs, and pines until you reach the alpine terrain. Along the way, you might also get a rare sighting of the teporingo—also known as the volcano rabbit. This elusive lagomorph is Earth’s second smallest rabbit species, only trailing one spot behind the pygmy rabbit.
Given how challenging this trail is, hiking in Mexico’s Pico del Águila is best reserved for seasoned hikers with plenty of experience through arduous terrains. Beginners are better off trying other routes, such as Cerro Don Lauro.
Pro tip: After an exhausting yet satisfying climb to Pico del Águila, you can rest and treat yourself to a nice meal at the El Abrevadero restaurant near the beginning of the trail.
2. Cerro Don Lauro
The best religious and leisurely hike for beginners
- Location: San Cristóbal De las Casas, Chiapas.
- Distance: 2.7 miles (4.3km) round trip
- Duration: 1.5 to 2 hours
- Maximum elevation: 204 meters (3.28 ft)
- Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cerro Don Lauro—most popularly known as the sacred mountain—was named after the revered Mayan healer Don Lauro de la Cruz. It is located south of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas, renowned for being the land of Mayan ruins. Aside from being such a sacred place, Cerro Don Lauro is rife with thick jungles and enjoyable hiking trails. Aside from that, it is a popular area for bird viewing and rock climbing.
Although the trailhead needs to be better marked, you can find it as you approach the mountain on Calle Insurgentes. The trail is primarily uphill but only 2.71 miles (4.3km) back and forth, so the hike is short and relatively easy. You can complete it in one and a half hours (roundtrip). You will always find your way on this trail as the path is lined with signs with motivating phrases. You will also see red arrows pointing you to “El Mirador” or “Ruta del Aguila.” Even more enjoyable is that you will pass through stunning orchid fields, clear streams, and small community farms. You will know when you’re near them as the floral fragrance of the orchid wafts through the air.
You will know you are near the top when you see the serene altar to the Virgin Mary. It is where ceremonies and workshops are held in honor of the sacred mountain and its namesake. If you are religious, you can pray at this altar before you continue to the top.
Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a full 360 view of the valleys of Chiapas. After admiring the breathtaking view, pose at the Instagram-worthy swing at the top.
Pro tip: There is a small area on the left-hand side of the road where you can park and leave your car.
3. Volcán Paricutín
- Location: Michoacan, Mexico
- Distance: 12.4 miles (20km) roundtrip
- Duration: 5 to 7 hours
- Maximum elevation: 1,353 feet (424m)
- Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Recognized as one of the world’s Seven Natural Wonders, Volcán Paricutín is a must-see when traveling to Mexico. Volcán Paricutín has only existed for about 80 years as a geological marvel. In 1943, the southwestern state of Michoacán experienced rumblings, followed by the eruption of steam, ash, and lava. Seemingly emerging from nowhere, the Paricutín volcano ascended from the Earth’s depths, growing to approximately 1,353 feet (424m) above the neighboring valley over the next decade.
Nowadays, the volcano is already extinct, so it would be safe for you to check out the crater for yourself by taking one of the best hikes in Mexico toward the crater’s mouth from the village of Angahuan. To reach the summit, traverse the lava field toward the volcano, passing by the remnants of the Church of San Juan Parangaricutiro, whose weathered bell tower stands tall amidst the dark, volcanic stone.
From the peak, you will get a panoramic view of the dried lava-strewn surroundings. This certainly makes for a unique experience.
Pro tip: Be sure to visit the memorable Templo San Juan Parangaricutiro, a half-buried church on the edge of the lava field. This is about 45 minute walk from the village of Angahuan.
4. Pico de Orizaba
- Location: Puebla, Mexico
- Distance: 4.35 mi (7 kilometers) roundtrip
- Duration: 8 to 15 hours
- Maximum elevation: 18,491 feet (5,636 meters)
- Level of Difficulty: Difficult
In the Aztec language, Pico de Orizaba translates to “Star Mountain,” perhaps alluding to the fact that it “can reach the stars” given its immense height. This is because Pico de Orizaba is Mexico’s highest mountain and North America’s highest volcano, rising to 18,491 feet (5,636 meters) above sea level.
This conical-shaped volcano with a glacier covering its upper slopes is a popular destination for mountaineers and hikers, who can choose from several routes to reach the summit. There is the Jamapa Glacier, the Ruta Sur, or the Espinazo del Diablo. Whichever way you choose, you must know that climbing to the top will be an intense, arduous process.
Navigating the intricate rocky maze and tackling the incredibly steep glacier while coping with the fragile air at high altitudes is challenging. The trek may take between 8 and 12 hours, requiring readiness for a demanding ascent on a steep, frozen glacier with slopes angling up to 45 degrees in certain areas. That’s why reaching the summit of Pico de Orizaba is worth applauding.
Although undoubtedly challenging and not for the faint of heart, courageous hikers who conquered Mexico’s highest mountain will be rewarded with a breathtaking birdseye view of the surrounding terrain atop this snowy mountain. As they say, it is as if you have reached the stars as you stand atop this lofty snow-capped mountain.
However, while the climb atop Pico de Orizaba is one of the most rewarding hikes in Mexico, it should only be attempted by expert hikers with lots of experience trekking treacherous paths. There is at least one fatality recorded per year in Pico de Orizaba, so it should be climbed cautiously.
Pro tip: The climate at Orizaba can fluctuate significantly, so it’s crucial to keep track of the most recent weather updates in the region. Rapid changes in mountain conditions can transform a straightforward ascent into a lethal endeavor due to sudden, severe storms.
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