Central Mexico has something to offer for everyone from family-friendly walks, gorgeous canyons or thrilling treks. Here is my guide to 6 stunning hikes in Central Mexico!
Barranca de Huentitan (Guadalajara)
Barranca de Huentitan is located on the northern outskirts of Guadalajara. This is the perfect place to spend a day enjoying nature. The bottom of the canyon is home to a famous suspension bridge, the ruins of an abandoned town and lots of stray dogs.
Hike over to the suspension bridge to take some great pictures once you reach the bottom of the canyon. This bridge is built near the original site of the first suspension bridge in Mexico. I also recommend checking out a bunch of houses that were abandoned in 2005. This is well worth exploring but it does have a spooky vibe as well.
If you really want to challenge yourself, climb parts of the old funicular on the way back up to the main trail. However, if you don’t feel like doing steep inclines, just get back on the same trail you hiked to get down to the canyon.
You can get to Barranca de Huentitan by taking local bus 603 A (7 pesos). You can catch this bus near Plaza de Los Mariachis or Mercado San Juan de Dios. Take it to the last stop and you’re five minutes from the start of the trail.
El Tepozteco (Tepoztlan)
This hike is located in the magic town of Tepoztlan which gives you the unique opportunity to hike up to some ruins! Once you arrive in the main town square, keep following the road on the west side of it. You will begin seeing signs for El Tepozteco that will direct you to the ruins. There is a 55 peso entrance free if you do decide to explore the ruins.
Most of the hike is spent in the shade until you reach the top. There is some light scrambling but this hike isn’t very steep and should take around 45-60 minutes. Watch out for the coatimundis around the ruins. They will steal your food and snacks! In spite of that, don’t let it steer you away from doing this hike. The ruins at the top are a cool place to relax. You can get to El Tepozteco by taking a bus from Cuernavaca to the magic town of Tepotzlan. Look for this bus at the southeast corner of the bus station next to Mercado Adolfo Lopez Mateos (24 pesos).
Peña de Bernal (Queretaro)
This is a short hike but worth it for the views. Peña de Bernal is a massive monolith which is often compared to the Rock of Gibraltar or Sugarloaf Mountain. This is a family-friendly hike and very popular spot for Mexicans to go on the weekends. The magic town of Bernal is also worth exploring after the hike. There is a pretty church and you can get some pretty good deals in the artisan shops here.
You can’t reach the top unless you have the proper climbing equipment. Furthermore, you can still hike most of the way up by foot like I did (30-40 minutes) and get some great views! There is some scrambling involved if you want to go a little higher like I did in my video of this hike.
You can get to Peña de Bernal by taking a bus from Queretaro’s main bus station. Just ask for the one heading to Bernal (46 pesos).
El Charco del Ingenio (San Miguel de Allende)
This beautiful area on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende was the best hiking surprise of my time in Mexico. El Charco del Ingenio is divided up into three areas: the botanical garden with plenty of exotic plants from all over Mexico; the canyon which leads to stunning views overlooking San Miguel de Allende; and the wetlands area which is a perfect spot to relax next to the Las Colonias reservoir.
The entrance fee is 40 pesos which give you access to an excellent variety of views from the canyon, lake and the city of San Miguel Allende. This place can be enjoyed by people of all ages. You can easily spend a few hours exploring everything. I really enjoyed walking through the botanical garden full of cacti from all over Mexico. There are also guided tours of El Charco del Ingenio every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:00 am. If you really love birds, check out the bird-watching tours on the first and third Wednesday of each month beginning at 9:00 am.
Charco del Ingenio is around a 30-40 minute walk from the center of San Miguel Allende. It’s pretty easy to get there by car but you can take a cheap taxi there as well.
Nevado de Toluca (Toluca)
Nevado de Toluca is one of the most challenging and exhilarating hikes in Mexico! There are multiple ways to the summit with the most popular choice starting from the Refugio (4000 m). I started the hike with my host and his friends at Parque de Los Venados (3700 m).
We began making our way to the summit via Paso de Oso (Pass of the Bear), which is not the most popular route. However, I did enjoy because you enjoy different videos going up compared to going down. There is some scrambling involved on the climb up (mostly Class 2/3). Other routes to the summit are Class 4/5 which can prove to be quite challenging. However, any relatively experienced hiker should be able to reach the summit. You can see in my video of this hike that you will have to get hands and knees a few times to pull yourself up the mountain.
Nevado de Toluca is the only hike where I’ve experienced altitude problems. I didn’t start experiencing it until after I began walking down from the summit (4682 m/15361 ft). Control your breathing by taking long and deep breathes when taking rest breaks. However, if it keeps getting worse, it is important in these situations to decrease altitude as quickly as possible.
Summiting this peak is a nice challenge for any hiker, which is also great altitude preparation for anyone looking to conquer Iztaccihuatl and Pico de Orizaba. There are multiple trails to the summit. However, the best way to reach the summit is to start at Centro Vacacional IMSS La Malintzi (3100 m). The lodging here has 40 cabins so you can also spend the night here and do the sunrise hike.
It’s possible to use public transport to get from Toluca to IMSS Malintzi. Catch a purple bus marked CAPU (Puebla’s main bus terminal) and get off at Boulevard Norte near the Soriana and Autozone. Cross the street and take a white bus marked San Pedro/San Isidro behind Autozone Boulevard Norte (click here for the location on Google Maps). Take it all the way to San Isidro (cost is 10 pesos). Once in town, take the 9:00 am microbus straight to IMSS Malintzi (25 pesos). It’s important to take a bus from Puebla before 8:00 am in order to arrive before the 9:00 am microbus leaves for IMSS Malintzi.
The climb up to the summit takes 2.5-3 hours and then 1.5-2 hours to get back. This will give you plenty of time to catch the Microbus back to San Isidro which leaves IMSS Malintzi at 4:45 pm. The second bus in San Isidro should get you back to Puebla before 7:30 pm.
Finally, if you want to read more about hiking in Mexico, check out my Oaxaca, Mexico Hiking Guide!
If you are looking for an awesome adventure in northern Mexico, my friend Tanya (Can Travel Will Travel) has a helpful guide for a five-day train itinerary through the Copper Canyon!