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HIKING RULES

Top 5 Mexico Trails

Hiking in Mexico is one of the most underrated things to do when on a vacation.

Most tourists make their way down south to lounge on sun-kissed beaches or indulge in delicious street food, never realizing that hiking through the backcountry of the country can be a very rewarding and unforgettable experience.

Copper Canyon

Located in northwest Mexico, Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre) is a system of six interconnected canyons that are much larger than Arizona’s Grand Canyon. 

The Tarahumara Indians have lived in this area for millennia and built one of the longest, most complex systems of trails that you’ll find anywhere.

There are hundreds of hiking trails that crisscross these canyon walls. These stretches of trail are notoriously difficult and can be dangerous if you’re not properly prepared. Hiking in Copper Canyon can be a serious challenge, but the rewards are incredible.

The New Spanish explored Copper Canyon in the 17th century and met the indigenous people here, known as the Raramuri. They were given the name Tarahumara by the Spanish, a word that is thought to mean ‘People of the swiftly running feet’.

Copper Canyon is known for its stunning beauty, with towering cliffs, deep gorges, and lush vegetation. The canyons are also home to several indigenous communities and a rich biodiversity, including many species of birds and mammals that are found nowhere else in the world. 

This is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with several hiking trails and a scenic railway (the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad) that offers views of the canyons. 

The most famous hike in Copper Canyon is the multi-day “Copper Canyon Trek,” which takes you through the heart of the canyons and offers an unforgettable wilderness experience.

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is one of the oldest and most historic trails in the Americas. 

It was built along Native American footpaths and became a primary transportation corridor for the Spanish colonies. It also linked Spain’s colonial capital, Mexico City, to its northern frontier in today’s New Mexico.

The route spans three centuries and two countries and covers 1,600 miles. It was blazed atop a network of indigenous footpaths and trade corridors that connected Mexico’s ancient cultures with the equally ancient cultures of the interior West.

It stretches for over 2,560 kilometers (1,600 miles) and is considered one of the first highways in the Americas.

It was a principal conduit of exchange among Spaniards and other Europeans, Indians, and Mexicans that shaped lives and communities in the Southwest. It influenced settlement and development in present-day New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, and the United States.

There are many historic sites, museums, and interpretive centers along the trail that tell the story of this important historical corridor. Some of these include the New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art in Albuquerque.

Along the way, it was used by merchants, travelers, and missionaries, who transported goods, ideas, and cultures between New Spain (colonial Mexico) and the northern frontier. 

Today, El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, and many of the cities and settlements along the route have preserved the colonial architecture and culture, making it an important cultural and historic landmark.

La Malinche National Park

La Malinche, also known as Matlalcueye and Malintzin, is one of Mexico’s six highest mountains at 4,461 meters (14,636 ft) above sea level. It’s close enough to Mexico City and Puebla to make a day-trip and is one of the country’s most popular hiking destinations.

In addition to being a climbing destination, La Malinche is also home to a rich history and cultural legacy. A prominent figure in the Spanish Conquest, La Malinche was a powerful Indigenous woman who helped shape the Mexican landscape and culture.

La Malinche National Park is a protected area located in Tlaxcala, Mexico. It is named after the indigenous woman who served as an interpreter and guide for the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés during the conquest of Mexico. 

The park covers an area of 44,000 hectares (108,000 acres) and features a dormant volcano, also known as La Malinche, which rises to 4,461 meters (14,636 feet) above sea level. 

The park offers a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, camping, and birdwatching. The trails in the park offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including the neighboring states of Puebla and Veracruz, and provide a glimpse into the region’s rich cultural and natural heritage. 

Visitors can also explore the local communities and learn about their traditions, customs, and history.

It’s important to bring sun protection because the rays from the sun will burn faster at high altitudes, so a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are essential. Depending on your location, you may also want to wear long sleeves and pants to protect from the cold weather.

El Camino de Monte Alban

One of the most famous sites in Mexico, El Camino de Monte Alban is a huge archaeological site that’s just six miles from Oaxaca City. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was once the capital of the Zapotec people.

El Camino de Monte Alban is a trail that leads to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban. Monte Alban was one of the most important cities of the Zapotec civilization, which developed in the Oaxaca valley between 500 BC and 800 AD. 

The city was built on a hilltop and features impressive architectural and artistic achievements, including plazas, pyramids, tombs, and sculptures. The trail to Monte Alban is a scenic hike that offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the city of Oaxaca and the valley below. 

Along the way, visitors can learn about the history, culture, and beliefs of the Zapotecs, as well as admire the natural beauty of the region. Monte Alban is one of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico and a popular destination for tourists and researchers alike.

The first archaeologist to lead a serious excavation of Monte Alban was Leopold Batres in 1902. He brought attention from around the world and helped the Mexican government preserve these ancient ruins.

This site is one of the earliest cities in Mexico and was a powerful political and economic center in its time. It was inhabited for over a millennium and had contacts with other big cities like Teotihuacan in Central Mexico.

Another interesting feature of the ruins is that many structures were not laid out in a symmetrical manner. Early structures were oriented south of east, while later ones aligned more with cardinal directions.

Camino Real de Coahuila

El Camino Real de Coahuila, also known as the ‘Royal Road’ and ‘King’s Highway’ was blazed on top of a network of indigenous footpaths that connected Mexico’s ancient cultures with the equally ancient cultures of the interior West. This artery of commerce and travel was the oldest of the great highways heading north.

This is a historic trail that connected the Mexican state of Coahuila with other regions of northern Mexico, including Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, and Chihuahua. 

The trail was used for trade, transportation, and communication during the Spanish colonial period and was an important link between the interior of Mexico and the northern frontier. The Camino Real de Coahuila passes through several cities and settlements, including Saltillo, Monclova, and Parras, which have preserved the colonial architecture, culture, and traditions. 

Today, parts of the trail are still visible and can be visited, offering a glimpse into the history of Mexico and the development of its transportation and trade networks. 

The trail is also a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with several hiking and cycling routes that offer scenic views of the landscape and the opportunity to discover the rich cultural and natural heritage of the region.

Final Word

Mexico is a country with a rich and diverse cultural and natural heritage, offering a wealth of outdoor recreation opportunities for visitors. 

From the rugged beauty of Copper Canyon and La Malinche National Park, to the historical significance of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and the Camino de Monte Alban, Mexico is a destination for those seeking adventure, history, and culture. 

Mexico has something for everyone, with its vibrant communities, stunning landscapes, and rich history.

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