Believe it or not, hiking is seriously underrated when it comes to fun things to do while visiting Mexico. While Mexico is known for many things, not everyone knows that hiking in Mexico can be an unforgettable experience.
Even if you aren't a big fan of hiking, the Mexican backcountry is beautiful and definitely worth checking out while you are visiting.
Whether you are still planning your trip to Mexico or already have your tickets booked, this hiking guide will tell you everything you need to know. I'll give you tips for the best spots, tours, essential items for your hike, and safety info. Don't forget to add hiking essentials to your Mexico packing list if you plan on hitting the trails!
Why Mexico Is a Dream Hiking Spot
Mexico is the perfect place for both new and experienced hikers. The huge mountain ranges and ideal weather will almost guarantee that you will have a great experience. Mexico is a hot spot for backpackers looking to hike during the dry season, between October and April.
During this time, you can expect good weather while hiking through Mexico's breathtaking landscapes. From deep canyons to boiling lava fields, there is no shortage of things to see.
If you are an experienced hiker who wants a challenge, you might want to tackle Mexico's world-famous mountain ranges. Don't miss Pico de Orizabo, Mexico's highest peak with a staggering 5,600-meter ascent.
The sights aren't the only reason Mexico is so popular for backpacking and hiking. Located on the trails are lots of little communities. These can give you a glimpse into the rich cultures of the indigenous people's way of life.
Planning Your Hike Through Mexico
Now that you've decided to hike through one of the most beautiful countries in the world, let me tell you how to prepare. There are some essential items, safety tips, and wardrobe rules that you need to be aware of before you hit the trails.
Essential Hiking Items for Mexico
Along with the basic hiking essentials, there are some extra items that you should bring with you when hiking in Mexico. The most important of these items is some form of headlamp in case you get caught on the trail when it gets dark.
If you are planning on hiking in the mountain ranges, you may need to bring poles, microspikes, crampons, or even an ice axe. It depends on the type of terrain you are planning on hiking through and the time of year. You should also keep some water on you as well as a basic first aid kit.
GearLight LED Headlamp
Tips for Hiking in Mexico
The number one tip I give to people who are planning on hiking in Mexico for the first time is to book a guide. Generally, it is safer and more enjoyable when you have an experienced guide with you on the trails.
Whether you choose a guided hike or venture off on your own, you should download some offline maps. Download maps of the areas you are planning on hiking in and the surrounding roads. These backup maps can make a real difference just in case you get off trail somehow. While you're at it, check out these hiking apps as well.
You might also consider learning some basic Spanish before visiting Mexico. While not essential, it can make communicating and getting around a lot easier.
What to Wear While Hiking in Mexico
What you wear while hiking in Mexico will make a big difference in how enjoyable the experience is. When planning your hiking apparel, keep in mind the weather conditions. You should also consider the different types of terrain that you will be hiking through.
You should consider breathable and moisture-wicking clothing. This will help protect you from the heat and humidity that some parts of Mexico are known for. It'll also help you stay cool and comfortable during your hike.
The shoes you choose should be lightweight and comfortable or medium-duty hiking boots. Hiking boots are best as they provide more protection for your feet over rough terrain. The most important thing is that the shoes you choose are comfortable because you'll be on your feet for a while!
Sun protection is also essential when hiking in Mexico. Wear a hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses to protect you during the day. Finally, you should still bring some extra layers as Mexico can get pretty cold in the evening.
The Best Hiking Trails in Mexico
Mexico is home to some of the most gorgeous hiking trails in North America. I've highlighted five of the best hiking trails in Mexico to give you an idea of what you can expect.
Most Popular Hiking Trail in Mexico: Cumbres de Ajusco
This is by far one of the most popular hiking destinations in Mexico. Cumbres de Ajusco is located in Mexico City, and is home to some of the most well-established trails, featuring some truly breathtaking views. It is a relatively light hike when compared to some of the country's other offerings. That makes it a great choice for both beginner and experienced hikers.
The summit, which sits almost 4,000 meters above sea level, can still be an issue for beginner hikers. Another great thing about these trails is that they all converge at one point, so there's no worry about getting lost.
Best Trail In Mexico For Beginners: Nevado de Toluca
Nevado de Toluca is another popular trail, located in Toluca, that is an excellent choice for beginners. These trails lead to the summit of Mexico's fourth largest mountain, Friar's Peak, or to the twin lagoons, which are known for their breathtaking views.
Hikes up the Nevado de Toluca are extremely customizable. Hikers have various options they can tailor to their experience level or desired experience.
Best for Intermediate Hikers: La Malinche
La Malinche is a great hike for those intermediate hikers who are looking for a challenge. La Malinche is a great conditioning hike for those who are trying to prepare for more intense hikes like Iztaccihuatl or Pico de Orizaba.
The hike isn't very difficult, but it does start climbing steeply and doesn't let up until the slow descent. You'll have a stunning forest canopy above you during your hike. You'll also see signs of volcanic activity on the landscape.
There are even some great places to snack along the way, each with its own breathtaking view of the summit. The last 300 meters are super steep, so bring along some trekking poles to help you keep your footing.
Best Forest Trail: Bosque de la Canada de Contreras
The Bosque de la Canada de Contreras trail is arguably the most visually pleasing hike Mexico has to offer. This forest trail is located only around 45 minutes away from Mexico City, in Los Dinamos Park, also known as Bosque de la Canada de Contreras.
This hike will take you on a journey that passes through rivers and waterfalls. It's sure to be one of the most visually unforgettable hikes you have ever been on. You may even forget that you are just outside of the city due to the secluded setting.
Be aware that you will need to be pretty fit to tackle this hike comfortably. This hike will take you to altitudes around 3,460 meters above sea level, so you will need to prepare yourself accordingly.
It's worth it though, as the top of the trail features one of the best views of Mexico City anywhere in the country.
Best Overall: Ajusco Summit Trail
If you only hit one trail while visiting Mexico, make it the Ajusco Summit trail in Cumbres Del Ajusco National Park. This features a 3,986-meter peak and is one of the most challenging and rewarding hikes the country has to offer.
The hike will take you through a forest and into some rougher terrain before the climb up to the summit. It's one of the biggest hiking attractions in Mexico, so there will likely be a crowd with you in the park exploring the trails.
For a more secluded hike, visit this trail on weekday mornings when the place isn't as crowded.
Plan Your Hiking Trip to Mexico Today!
There's no doubt that Mexico is one of the best places in the world to hike. You'll be glad to plan a trip here, as hiking in Mexico is sure to exceed even your wildest expectations.
Now that you're an expert on hiking in Mexico, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.