The Most Epic Hikes To Take In Mexico
Mexico makes for an ideal hiking destination; it has a number of excellent mountain ranges and (generally) ideal weather, that more than make up for the often brutal altitude issues posed by the country’s capital, Mexico City. The best time to hike in this North American country is undoubtedly during the dry season though, which runs from October to May, and offers temperate weather and the opportunity for some truly epic hiking trail experiences.
Copper Canyon/ Tararecua Canyon
The Copper Canyon is actually a misnomer – it should be pluralised, as the Copper Canyon range is made up of six separate canyons with the Tararecua Canyon arguably the best for hiking, due to the thermal springs at the base. Either way, this approx. five-day hiking trail was ranked one of the best in the world by National Geographic and it’s easy to see why. Cutting right through the northern state of Chihuahua, it combines indigenous culture with some excellent scenery and rough wilderness.
Desierto de los Leones
One of Mexico City’s most popular and attractive hiking spots is the rather ominously named Desierto de los Leones (Lion Desert, literally). Not to worry though, as you’re far more likely to see hordes of hikers, bikers and families tackling the craggy trails of this spectacular national park, than you are to see lions roaming amongst the trees. The trails to be found here range from moderate to difficult, but all are easily located and followed. One of the most challenging hikes heads to the park’s highest peak, Cerro San Miguel, which clocks in at 12,400 feet above sea level.
This northern natural park, located in Monterrey, Nuevo León, is blessed with a wealth of excellent hiking routes that will delight experienced pros and introduce newbies to the world of outdoor fitness. While the official Chipinque website has three recommended trails complete with maps, there are far more that you can undertake yourself over the 50km expanse of this natural park. Chipinque definitely shows a new side to industrial Monterrey.
Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve
This Biosphere Reserve, located in the south of Veracruz state, is the ideal hiking destination for those fitness fiends who like a side helping of culture and ritual with their hikes. Occupying a vast expanse of over 155,000 hectares, Los Tuxtlas Biosphere Reserve is known for having areas such as Catemaco which are populated with healers. Before starting any hike, legend goes that you ought to be cleansed first. Many trail options are available here, from lake side walks to mountainous hikes.
Paso de Cortes
Paso de Cortes is a specific hiking trail that sits sandwiched between the volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl and is named for Spanish conquistador Hernán Córtes. Around two to three hours outside of the capital, the altitude proves an issue on this hiking route, so it’s not for the faint hearted or the unacclimated. However, it’s more than worth the journey if you’re a fan of a spectacular view.
Nevado de Toluca
Located in Toluca, the capital of the State of Mexico, this is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations that offers hiking which is more than suitable for beginners or amateur enthusiasts. Either hike to the summit of Mexico’s fourth largest mountain – Friar’s Peak – which sits at more than a mile above ground level, or simply head to the twin lagoons which offer truly spectacular views. As you can drive and park at many points up the Nevado de Toluca, hikes in this area can be tailored to various levels.
This is the inactive half of Mexico’s set of twin volcanoes (the neighbouring Popocatépetl erupted in 1994) and it makes for a popular hiking spot, although only among the more experienced and physically capable. While the summit is open to climbing attempts, it can prove fatal and the altitude proves brutal, so don’t push yourself further than you feel able to on the two-day hike to Iztaccíhuatl.
Cumbres de Ajusco
Easily Mexico City’s most frequented hiking destination, Cumbres de Ajusco boasts well-trodden trails and well-worth-the-journey views. It is considered a much ‘lighter’ hike than many of the capital’s hiking offerings, and so can be attempted by those with less experience but the almost 13,000 feet above sea level summit can still cause problems. While there are technically many trails, all of them converge at one point or another on the peak, so don’t fret about getting lost!
Situated in the town of Tepoztlan, the Tepozteco mountain is a breeze to find and a delight to hike. While it makes for a steep climb, the altitude doesn’t even factor in for most people, given that the peak is still slightly below Mexico City itself. However, the truly magical reward for completing this hike is the pyramid that sits atop the summit and offers some great views over the surrounding valleys and vistas.