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10 Best Hikes in Mexico: Mountains, Temples and Waterfalls

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Snow-capped peaks, trails around temples and waterfalls, and smoking volcanoes make hiking in Mexico the perfect choice for your vacation. There are endless opportunities to explore the natural beauty of the mountains, but we have chosen 10 trails in Mexico which we consider the best. Will you join us on the adventure of a lifetime? 

1. Izta Popo: Paso de Cortés (easy) 

Paso de Cortés trail in Mexico

Famous for the dangerous volcano with the unpronounceable name (yes, I´m speaking about Popocatépetl), the Izta Popo National Park is located just an hour drive from Mexico City. It offers a variety of trails for different levels. One of the easier hikes in the park is called Paso de Cortés. It will lead you on a wide, flat road, offering spectacular sights of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, Mexico’s second- and third-highest peaks. 

The starting point of the trail is the Paso de Cortés parking lot. From there, the path leads to La Joya on the foothills of Iztaccíhuatl, and then the same way back. It’s quite likely you’ll see a little eruption of Popocatépetl from a distance. 

  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Length: 15.3 kilometers (9.5 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 316 meters (1,037 feet) 

Practical information 

It’s best to organize the hike as a day trip from Mexico City. You can easily get there by car (check my instructions on driving in Mexico), and conveniently park in the parking lot called Paso de Cortés. The admission fee to the national park is 35 pesos (1.75 US dollars) per person.  

2. Izta Popo: Iztaccíhuatl (hard) 

Iztaccíhuatl trail in Mexico

Iztaccíhuatl is a 5,230 meters (17,160 feet) tall dormant volcano in Izta Popo National Park. Its bare, steep, rocky slopes, sometimes covered in snow, are hard to climb. That’s why the hike is recommended only for very experienced adventurers, ideally with a guide. It starts in the La Joyita parking lot and goes up the hill with merciless elevation gain. Once you reach the peak, you have to turn back and go down the same way. 

  • Difficulty: very hard, recommended with a guide 
  • Length: 13.4 kilometers (8.3 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 1,387 meters (4,550 feet) 

Practical information 

The Izta Popo National Park is located only an hour drive from Mexico City; that’s why the hike makes for a perfect day trip from the capital. The parking lot called La Joyita stands just under the mountain, and the admission to the park costs 35 pesos (1.75 US dollars) per person. Don’t forget to pack enough water and snacks, as the hike is really challenging and will definitely take at least six hours. 

3. Canyon Sumidero (various levels) 

Canyon Sumidero trail in Mexico

Canyon Sumidero is the most beautiful place in Mexico, with its 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) tall walls rising above the Grijalva river and leading it to the Chicoasén Dam. The place is full of seasonal waterfalls, rapids, caves, and rock formations, the diverse vegetation includes palms, orchids, and cactuses, and endangered species live in the park—such as crocodiles or jaguars. 

The hike goes along the river, but the fact is I can’t fit it into any category: easy, moderate or hard. It depends just on what you want to do. There are full-day hikes with guides, including rock-climbing and canyoning, as well as short walks along the river. All you need to do is arrive on the spot, find a tourist center and discuss the options. Or book your tour online, for example at Lokaltravel or Explore-Share

Practical information 

Sumidero Canyon lies in Chiapas, Mexico. There are plenty of ways to get there—you can drive from Tuxtla Gutiérrez or from San Cristóbal de las Casas, or you can take a bus to Chiapa de Corzo and explore the canyon from there.  

The admission fee to the national park is 34 pesos (1.75 US dollars) but the price of the hike depends on the tour you choose. It’s good to know that the bathrooms are paid, it’s therefore necessary to have some coins with you. Unless you want to powder your nose next to a jaguar. 

4. La Ruta de los Cenotes (easy) 

La Ruta de los Cenotes trail in Mexico

This hike is the perfect opportunity to enjoy the phenomenon typical for Yucatan—cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with water, often described as “underground caves without ceilings” by tourists. La Ruta de los Cenotes is a 37 kilometers (23 miles) long paved road connecting several cenotes. You don’t need to walk the whole distance, just explore as many sinkholes as you want and then turn back.  

Some of the cenotes rest peacefully in nature and astonish visitors by their crystal-clear emerald water and divine silence, whereas others are transformed into adventure parks including zip-lines and swimming activities. 

  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Length: 37 kilometers (23 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: none 

Practical information 

You’ll find the hike on the Yucatan Peninsula near Cancún; the road leads from Puerto Morelos to Leona Vicario. Some of the cenotes have bathrooms and changing rooms. The admission fee varies in different cenotes, you can expect a sum around 300 pesos (15 US dollars). 

5. Desierto de los Leones National Park (moderate) 

There is a loop trail that goes through the dense forests in Desierto de los Leones National Park—the Desert of the Lions in translation. It’s a nice day trip if you want to escape the rush of Mexico City and enjoy trees, rivers, and views from the hilltops instead of cars, shops, and museums. 

  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Length: 15.3 kilometers (9.5 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 909 meters (2.982 feet) 

Practical information 

It might be a bit harder to find the trail—it starts at a tiny parking lot in the southernmost point of the road connecting Santa Rosa Xochiac and La Venta south-west of Mexico City. Right here: 

Starting point of the hike on the map

In case you don’t want to rely on tourist signs on the spot, you can find the whole trail on a tourist map made by Alltrails.  

6. El Chiflón (easy) 

El Chiflón trail in Mexico

Looking for an easy, beautiful trail in Mexico with a waterfall or two? And what about El Chiflón, a series of not one, not two, but five waterfalls in a row? The trail goes along the river and offers almost surreal views of the roaring waterfalls, crystal-clear pools, and turquoise river. 

The tallest fall in the cascades is Cascada Velo de Novia, roaring and pouring water down from the height of 80 meters (260 feet). But what’s even better than observing waterfalls? Bathing under them! In certain parts of the river, swimming is allowed, so pack your swimming suit. Or get ready for a surge of pure adrenalin and test a zip-line going over the river! El Chiflón is not a place to get bored. 

Warning: Swimming in unsigned pools is dangerous; deadly currents occur under the water. Bathe only in the locations clearly designated for swimming. 

  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Length: 5.3 kilometers (3.3 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 490 meters (1,608 feet) 

Practical information 

The cascades are reachable by car from Comitán (45 minutes long drive) or San Cristóbal (2.5 hours long drive). They are open daily from 7:30 to 5 PM, but the earlier you arrive, the better—as the day goes, the place starts getting crowded. The entrance fee is 50 Mexican pesos (2.5 US dollars).  

7. Malinche (hard) 

La Malinche National Park is another piece of nature near Mexico City. It’s named after its highest peak, La Malinche Volcano (4,462 meters—14,639 ft—above sea level). The trail offers stunning views of Popocatépetl and Pico de Orizaba, Mexico’s first- and second-highest mountains, and is used by mountaineers for altitude acclimatization. 

The hike goes from Resort IMSS Malintzi on a wide, well-signed road in the forest. The harder part comes after you get above the tree line; the path gets pretty steep and rocky there, and to add on, it is poorly signed. After you reach the summit, the trail goes the same way down. 

  • Difficulty: hard 
  • Length: 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 1,275 meters (4,183 feet) 

8. Tepozteco (moderate) 

Me hiking in El Aguacero, Mexico

Short but steep—that’s the hike to Tepozteco, the Aztec temple built on the peak of a hill just above the town of Tepoztlán. Even though the summit seems near, treacherous tree roots and rocks block the path and make the trip rather challenging. 

  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Length: 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 300 meters (984 feet) 

Practical information 

The temple isn’t open at all times — you can visit it between 9 AM and 6 PM. The admission fee is 55 Mexican pesos (2.75 US dollars). If you travel by car, don’t go straight to the beginning of the trail—the city is full of one-ways, and it’s very hard to find a parking lot there. It’s much better to look around for a parking space in one of the private gardens that locals offer for parking (for around 10 pesos—50 US cents) and walk to the start of the trail.  

9. El Aguacero (easy) 

Me hiking in El Aguacero, Mexico

I think the best hikes in Mexico are those that offer more than walking—that’s why I enjoyed the hike to the El Aguacero waterfall so much. Apart from walking, you can spice up the trail by bathing in the river and admiring the spectacular waterfall, one of the nicest in Chiapas.  

The trail starts in front of Centro Turístico El Aguacero, and goes up a narrow path through the jungle—hot, wet, and full of mosquitoes. But if you keep on and scramble up, you’ll get to a canyon and instantly fall in love—the river is warm, and the fall is photogenic. That’s all you need. Or at least all I needed. 

  • Difficulty: easy 
  • Length: circa 7 kilometers (4.35 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: circa 420 meters (984 feet) 

Practical information 

The hike is short, but you should reserve at least a five-hour long window in your itinerary for it, if you want to spend some time bathing and admiring the waterfall. Before entering the trail, you have to pay the admission fee (50 pesos—2.5 US dollars) at the tourist center, which is open from 9 AM to 5 PM every day. 

10. Boca de Tomatlán (moderate) 

Boca de Tomatlán traditional village

Emerald water, sun-splashed beaches, and palms. Believe it or not, this postcard-like view is real. Boca de Tomatlán is a traditional fishing village on the western coast of Mexico, letting tourists peek behind the curtain and experience true rural Mexico. 

The village is a starting point of several trailsone of them heading to the Quimixto Waterfall and back. It’s a wonderful road off the beaten path, leading along little homesteads and several beaches. If you get worn out during the hike, you can take a water taxi for some 100 pesos (5 US dollars) per person. Or buy a lemonade in one of the many bars along the way. 

  • Difficulty: moderate 
  • Length: 17.2 kilometers (10.7 miles) 
  • Elevation gain: 469 meters (1,539 feet) 

Practical information 

Boca de Tomatlán is a 40-minute drive from Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco. The easiest way to get there is by car. Don’t you know where to get it or how to drive in Mexico? Read my article with 16 things you need to know when driving in Mexico

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