Hiking in Mexico (13 Best Hikes + 5 Tips for 2023)
Hiking in Mexico is one of the most underrated things to do in a vibrant country. Most tourists venture down south to lounge on a sun-kissed beach or indulge in the delicious flavors of Mexican street food. Yet, many never even wonder what a journey through the Mexican backcountry is like.
I’ve spent multiple seasons hiking in Mexico and want to fill you in on the top 13 hikes around the country, including the highest peak in Mexico. From just outside the capital city to the Campo and beach areas, let’s explore Mexico’s top hikes – undoubtedly some of the coolest things to do in Mexico.
Table of Contents
- 13 Best Hikes In Mexico
- Tips for Hiking in Mexico
- FAQs About Hiking in Mexico
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13 Best Hikes In Mexico
🥾 Expert | 8.5 miles | Google Maps | Iztaccihuatl Website | 2 ½ hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
Iztaccihuatl (Iz-ta-si-wa-tol) is one of my favorite hikes in Mexico. At 17,159 feet, this is the third-highest peak in Mexico and the second-highest of the legal peaks.
Most hikers complete this hike as an overnight adventure but more daring expeditions opt to climb the 4,000 feet of elevation gain in one day. Although the hike is just under 9 miles round-trip, it is no easy feat.
This volcano hike has some of the most beautiful crater views from its summit but at a physically-strenuous cost. Because the summit is so high, this hike is harder than usual due to the thin, high-altitude air.
Located in Popocatepetl National Park, one of the best day trips from Mexico City, Iztaccihuatl can be climbed with a guide service or as a solo climb. You will need to arrange transportation to and from the remote peak if you choose to go without a guide service, however, and there is no cell service at the trailhead.
👉 Pro Tip: There is a short but icy glacier-crossing section near the summit. You will need crampons and an ice axe to safely cross this part of the trail.
🥾 Difficult | 7.6 miles | Google Maps | La Malinche Website | 2 ½ hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
La Malinche is a great training mountain hike. Many hikers who have the major peaks of Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba on their climbing itineraries usually start with La Malinche for high-altitude conditioning.
The hike isn’t technical but it does start climbing right away and doesn’t let up until the descent. This hike is under a gorgeous forest canopy the whole time and the volcanic activity is obvious on the landscape.
There are great places to stop for a snack along the way, all with a view of the enticing summit. The last 1,000 vertical feet are incredibly steep and on loose shale, so you will want to bring a good pair of trekking poles. There is also a bit of rock scrambling to reach the summit.
Pay attention to the stacked-rock cairns to stay on track.
Pico de Orizaba
🥾 Expert | 4.5 miles | Google Maps | Pico de Orizaba Website | 5 hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
The highest mountain in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba stands at an impressive 18,491 feet. This hard climb is intense, to say the least, and the last two hours of the strenuous climb are on a steep, icy glacier that’s slanted at a 45-degree angle in some places.
This climb is the most rewarding hike in Mexico but should only be attempted by experienced hikers/climbers. Orizaba experiences at least one fatality per year and should be climbed cautiously.
Experienced hikers get a butt-kicking with Orizaba. From the rocky labyrinth maze to the impossibly steep glacier and ridiculously thin mountain air, standing on Pico de Orizaba’s summit is a feat to be celebrated.
Most hikers climb Orizaba with a guide but it can also be soloed. I recommend camping at the base of the mountain in the refugio or in your own tent to get a head start at an early alpine start.
📚 Related Reading: Consider getting Mexico travel insurance before you venture out to climb the country’s toughest peaks (and double check the policy’s adventure activity coverage).
Paso de Cortés
🥾 Moderate | 9.5 miles | Google Maps | Paso de Cortes Website | 1 hour, 20 minutes from Mexico City | Cost: Free
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience Mexico City on a budget. Located in the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, the Paso de Cortés is an easy way to get to see both Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl volcanoes without having to put your physical limits to the test.
The hike follows the beginning of the Izta trail and leads to Premier Portillo on the Iztaccihuatl volcano, where the views of the valley below are incredible. Some hikers set up camp at the nearby La Joya area but this is also a good point to turn around.
It’s recommended to arrange transportation to this hike in Ciudad de México beforehand otherwise you will have issues finding a way back to the city.
Cerro San Miguel
🥾 Moderate | 9.8 miles | Google Maps | Cerro San Miguel Website | 1 hour from Mexico City | Cost: Free
One of the coolest hikes in the Parque Nacional Desierto de Los Leones, Cerro San Miguel is a popular spot for hiking, camping, and rock climbing.
This lush pine tree trail is just outside of Mexico City and offers unrivaled views of the national forest, backdropped by the big city. This hike passes by several chapels along the way and because it’s only 1 hour from Ciudad de México, it receives many eager hikers.
This hike is mostly shaded and is also popular among mountain bikers.
Nevado de Toluca
🥾 Difficult | 5.1 miles | Google Maps | Nevado de Toluca Website | 2 hours, 45 minutes from Mexico City | Cost: Free
This stratovolcano hike is one of the tougher, more technical climbs among the Mexican volcanoes. It’s the fourth-highest peak in Mexico at 15,354 feet.
Eager hikers make the adventure to see the volcano’s summit lake and more daring explorers scramble up the small summit ridge of Nevado de Toluca to successfully stand atop one of Mexico’s highest peaks.
This volcano lies west of Mexico City, the opposite way of Mexico’s other volcano hiking trails, and therefore receives far fewer hikers. I recommend hiking Nevado de Toluca for a challenging trek off the beaten path.
👉 My Favorite Gear: Make sure to have durable foot traction when hiking the rocky Nevado de Toluca trail. The Salomon X Ultra 4’s are my favorite hiking shoe, a Mexico packing list essential.
Ajusco Summit Trail
🥾 Moderate | 5.8 miles | Google Maps | Ajusco Summit Trail Website | 50 minutes from Mexico City | Cost: Free
The Ajusco Summit Trail lies at the gateway of the Mexican Valley. Its nickname is the “Green Mountain” because it’s just outside the Mexico City boundaries and offers a higher air quality.
On a clear day during the dry season, hikers can see the Izta and Popo volcanoes. This mountain trek is crawling with life: from maguey (the indigenous word for agave) and wild roses to owls and rabbits.
The best time to climb this popular mountain is from November to March during the dry season when your odds of summiting are greater. If you happen to be in Mexico during the wet season and want to climb the Ajusco Summit Trail, be sure to pack your durable rain jacket.
Cusarare Falls Trail, Copper Canyon
🥾 Easy | 0.6 miles | Google Maps | Cusarare Falls Trail Website | 20 hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
Add an iconic waterfall hike to your Mexico hiking itinerary to mix things up. The Cusarare Falls Trail in Copper Canyon allows Mexican tourists to experience a new side of the country.
This hike to the dramatic waterfalls in the area also passes by ancient ruins and cave dwellings in the state of Chihuahua. Translated directly to “Place of the Eagles,” Cusarare Falls plummets one hundred feet over a giant rock ledge.
There are smaller pools at the base of the waterfall, a great place to take a dip in the summer. Check out the cave wall paintings or wander around ancient adobe structures after your swim at the waterfall.
Pico del Águila
🥾 Moderate | 5.4 miles | Google Maps | Pico de Agulia Website | 50 minutes from Mexico City | Cost: Free
This moderate trail is located just outside of Mexico and is relatively easy for the whole family. There is a bit of scrambling toward the end, so wear some sturdy hiking boots for this hiking adventure.
Located in Parque Nacional Cumbres del Ajusco, Pico del Aguila, or peak of the eagle, is one of the tallest volcanoes in Mexico and can be hiked either alone or with a guide. There are spectacular views along the way of both Mexico City and the giant Popocatepetl volcano.
With almost 2,300 elevation gain in 2.7 miles on the ascent, this hike is no walk in the park. Be sure to bring plenty of food and water and most importantly, enjoy yourself.
🥾 Difficult | 62 miles | Google Maps | Pueblos Mancomunados Website | 6 hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free if solo hiking
Hike between the Pueblos Mancomunados indigenous villages in Oaxaca. The six unique little villages each have their own charisma from textile handicraft specialization to mezcal production, this trek is one of my favorites in Mexico.
You can choose the duration of your hike depending on how long you will be in Oaxaca. You will probably need 3 days/ 4 nights to experience all of the unique villages. For Mexico safety reasons, I recommend going with a local tour guide for hire in Oaxaca but you can also opt to go solo.
This hike is a great way to see the non-touristic, backside of Oaxaca. Get away from the crowds and get to know the locals with this highly-rated hiking trail.
👉 Visiting Oaxaca? Don’t miss my list of the top things to do in Oaxaca and the best places to stay in Oaxaca.
🥾 Moderate | 3.1 miles | Google Maps | Pueblo Fantasma Website | 8 hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
This short hike takes hikers past pueblos in the San Luis Potosí region. The trail starts at the Real de Catorce just north of San Luis Potosí towards the old Sierra de Catorce ghost town that was once inhabited over 200 years ago.
Walk the cobblestone streets of ancient Mexico, a historic site in the hills of Mexico. The hike can be done in 3 hours or on horseback. San Luis Potosí is one of the top destinations in Mexico and this hike is sure to be the highlight of your Mexico trip.
Cerro Don Lauro
🥾 Moderate | 1.3 miles | Google Maps | Cerro Don Lauro Website | 11 ½ hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
Welcome to Chiapas: the land of Maya ruins, thick jungle, and hiking trails! Hike the sacred mountain Cerro Don Lauro next time you’re in the jungle state, only a few miles from San Cristobal de Las Casas.
This area is also a hotspot for rock climbing but the mirador of Cerro Don Lauro is the highlight of the park. The trail takes a brisk 30-45 minutes to complete but climbs a steep hill the whole way. You must put in a little work to be rewarded with 360-degree views of the Chiapas valley below.
Look for the Instagram-worthy swing at the top and pose for your next profile picture before you turn around and follow the same trail back down.
🥾 Moderate | 4.1 miles | Google Maps | Sierra Negra Website | 3 ½ hours from Mexico City | Cost: Free
Sierra Negra is the perfect place to acclimatize before you tackle the huge Pico de Orizaba mountain. This extinct volcano is in the state of Puebla and is the fifth-highest peak in Mexico at 15,026 feet.
The observatory at the mountain summit defines this peak and the close proximity to Orizaba gives it one of the best summit views in Mexico. This mountain can be summited in as little as 4 hours at a good pace.
You are almost guaranteed to have the quiet Sierra Negra summit to yourself because most other hikers are busy hiking Pico de Orizaba. This is one of the tallest and low-key mountains in Mexico.
Tips for Hiking in Mexico
Go With a Guide
Many Mexican mountain hikes are completely doable by yourself but, for the sake of logistics, I recommend going with a guide. Guide services take care of everything for you – route finding, carrying equipment, and sometimes even cooking for you on overnight trips.
One of the top reasons I recommend going with a guide is for easy transportation. Guide services take you to and from the mountain, hassle-free. Skip the stress of arranging for a taxi driver to wait for you by going with an accredited guide service.
Download Multiple Offline Maps
Even if you choose to go with a guide service instead of alone, I recommend downloading multiple offline maps as a backup GPS, just in case.
Guides usually know their way around the mountains pretty well but I always like to rely on my own maps in the event of an emergency.
Learn Some Basic Spanish
You can get around Mexico without knowing much Spanish but it’s always good to pick up at least beginner, conversational Spanish for when you visit Mexico.
This way, you will get to know the friendly locals on a more personal level and you’ll be able to ask for help in case you get lost on the mountain or run out of water. At the very least, you should write down a few phrases that will benefit you on your hiking adventures.
Get a Mexican SIM Card
I always get a SIM card in every new country I visit outside of my own. This way I can access the internet in case I get lost and need a map or call for a taxi if I need a ride home.
Getting a Mexican SIM assures your safety while abroad. They are usually inexpensive and can be purchased at any OXXO or other convenience store.
Be Prepared With the Necessary Hiking Gear
Check to see if your Mexican hike requires winter hiking gear. You may need either poles and microspikes or crampons and an ice axe depending on which hike you choose in Mexico.
Another hiking essential is a headlamp in case you get caught on the trail after dark. Paired with the right amount of clothing layers and other camping gear essentials, you will be prepared for anything on your Mexican hike!
FAQs About Hiking in Mexico
Does Mexico have good hiking?
Mexico is one of the best places to go hiking in the Americas. With the highest peak at nearly 18,500 feet, there are challenging hikes for everyone in Mexico. There are also easy and moderate-rated trails, making Mexico an ideal place to hike.
What region has the best hiking in Mexico?
Chihuahua’s Copper Canyon has the best hiking in Mexico. The scenic hiking trails wind through steep granite valley walls and your chances of seeing amazing flora and fauna are extremely high in this area. The Lion Desert is also a beautiful place for active travelers to hike.
What is the best hike in Mexico?
While the beach destinations have beautiful scenic hiking trails in Mexico, the best hike is Pico de Orizaba, the highest peak in Mexico. Hike through a dense pine forest, rock scramble at a high altitude, and traverse a glacier on this amazing volcano hike.
Does Puerto Vallarta have good hiking?
Puerto Vallarta has some great hiking trails. Some of the best hiking trails in this region are to waterfalls or along the sandy white beaches.
Thanks for reading my complete guide on hiking in Mexico. Now you’re ready to lace up your hiking boots and explore Mexico’s best trails. Stay up to date with these Mexico travel tips before your big hiking trip and enjoy the trails!
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