Peninsula Picks: Hiking in Baja

The natural beauty of the peninsula makes Baja ripe for epic hiking opportunities. But hiking has not traditionally been as popular as one would think. Trails (if there are any) are not well-marked, and there’s not a lot of public information. But that’s changing little by little as a more developed hiking scene is evolving along the peninsula. Here are some of our favorite picks for spots to get out and get your blood pumping.

 

 

photo courtesy rosarito.travel

Rosarito, BC

Why We Love It: There are plenty of good hiking spots around the Rosarito area even though most of the trails are not well-marked. Many of the hikes around Rosarito are day hikes up into the hills with sweeping ocean views of the Pacific Ocean. While most people think of Rosarito as a fun weekend beach destination, check out a hike the nest time you’re in the area.

Best Hikes: One of the most popular hikes in the Rosarito area is Cerro El Coronel. The hike up the large hill is moderate and takes 5-7 hours so be sure to take plenty of drinking water and snacks. There are signs for the trail that you’ll find along the free road near Puerto Nuevo. For an easier hike, there are a number of trails surrounding the new Parque Metropolitano, a large park located east of town. This is also a great place for families to spend the day as there are large green spaces, numerous picnic tables and grill areas, and playground equipment for children.

How to Hike There: While most trails are not well-marked, there are a growing number of people in the region who are getting into hiking around Rosarito, which means you can look up directions online for many hikes. Most are moderate day hikes that you can do easily on your own.

Local Guides or Organized Tours: There a few Facebook hiking groups that have organized hikes you can join for a small fee (hikers are required to wear masks and stay socially distanced). This is a great option to try out a new hike for the first time. Check out the groups Achacosos Senderismo or Aventuras en la Baja or Baja Coast Hiking.

When to Go: With the temperate weather in the area, you can easily hike year-round.

DBTC Insider Tip: There are also some great hiking spots south of Rosarito in Ensenada. Again, trails are not necessarily well-marked but some online searching will help you find some good hiking spots such as in Cañon de Doña Petra Ecological Park and out toward La Bufadora.

 

 

Sierra de San Pedro Mártir, BC

Why We Love It: This National Park is one of the few areas in Baja covered in pine trees that receives snow in the winter. Boasting the highest peak on the peninsula, Picacho del Diablo at 10,157 feet, it’s a great area for hiking with beautiful scenery and views. There are a number of well-marked and well-maintained hiking trails throughout the park. There are also plenty of other attractions such as the National Observatory and the ability to see California Condors, who are being rehabilitated in the park. See our guide to the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir for more.

Best Hikes: Experienced backpackers come to the area to summit Picacho del Diablo. The peak is normally approached from the eastern side on a three-day trip. If this is your first time doing the hike, the park rangers will require you to be accompanied by a guide since they don’t want hikers to get lost or hurt without the proper knowledge and equipment. There are some easier day hikes throughout the park that can be done without a guide by just following the trails such as Mirador Picacho (Picacho lookout) or the six-mile round-trip hike to El Altar. The El Altar trail features views of Picacho del Diablo, the desert of San Felipe, the Sea of Cortez, and even the coast of Sonora on an extremely clear day.

How to Hike There: The Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a destination that can be reached by departing from Highway Mexico 1 at San Telmo. It’s a two-hour drive from here to the park entrance. The hike to Picacho del Diablo takes three days and a guide is recommended and sometimes required. Hiking off-trail is also permitted in the park, but make sure to have GPS and topography maps. Check at the office at the National Park entrance for maps and more information about hiking in the park.

Local Guides or Organized Tours: SIMA Outdoor (tel. 664/272-5312, outdoorsima@gmail.com), run by Sofia Bautista, is highly recommended as a guide for the Picacho del Diablo summit as well as for other hikes around the region.

When to Go: Spring through fall are the best seasons for hiking. Winter can bring snow and extremely cold weather to the San Pedro Mártir.

DBTC Insider Tip: There are designated camping areas throughout the park or there are cabins at the park entrance. Make sure you are self-contained as the nearest provisions are two hours away in San Telmo on Highway Mexico 1. Otherwise, we recommend a stay at the quaint Rancho Meling, located about an hour outside of the park.

 

 

hiking_loreto_tabor

Loreto, BCS

Why We Love It: With the dramatic backdrop of the gorgeous and lush Sierra de la Giganta and the adjacent Sea of Cortez, the Loreto area is beautiful for hiking and exploring. Loreto has so many options for outdoor enthusiasts including fishing, golfing, boating, kayaking, and hiking.

Best Hikes:  Tabor Canyon (also called Steinbeck Canyon) is probably the most well-known hike in the Loreto area and hikers will be rewarded with pools, waterfalls, and even cave paintings. Other popular trails include Punta El Abajo, Shell Canyon, El Rio del Pez, and Hart Trail near Puerto Escondido.

How to Hike There: While there are relatively few Baja hiking books available, Loreto is lucky to be the exception with the detailed Hiking Loreto book. While there are plenty of hiking trails in the region, many are unmarked and hard to explore on your own if you don’t know where you’re going. But Hiking Loreto is a gem of a resource and makes hiking on your own throughout the area perfectly possible.

Local Guides or Organized Tours: If you’re more comfortable hiring a guide to lead you on a hike around the region, Said Orozco (www.loretoguide.com) is a reliable and resourceful one who can point out local plants and wildlife.

When to Go: Fall through spring are the best times for hiking. Summer can bring excessive heat and hiking should generally be avoided.

DBTC Insider Tip: Many of Loreto’s hiking trails are also good for mountain biking. Hiking Loreto also has more information on mountain biking throughout the region.

 

 

Sierra de la Laguna, BCS

Why We Love It: Located north of Los Cabos and in between the East and West Capes, the Sierra de la Laguna is one of the most beautiful and least-explored areas of the peninsula. UNESCO designated the 11,600 hectares of this mountain range a biosphere reserve in 1994. There are more than 900 plant species in the sierra, ranging from cacti to palms. Over 20 percent of them are endemic to the peninsula. The highest peak in the range, Picacho de la Laguna (elev. 2,161 m), is also the highest peak in all of Baja California Sur.

Best Hikes: Most people come to summit Sierra de la Laguna to get to Picacho de la Laguna. There are also hikers who come in search of La Laguna, the namesake lagoon of the mountain range, but the laguna has been dried up for years and is now a meadow between some of the highest peaks in the range. It can be reached in an overnight trip from the West Cape. There are also multi-day treks that traverse the mountain range from Pacific Ocean to Sea of Cortez (or vice versa).

How to Hike There: You can approach the Sierra de la Laguna for hiking from either The West Cape (south of Todos Santos) or the East Cape (near Santiago), depending on your final destination. There are three access points into the sierra from the eastern side: Cañon San Dionísio from Santiago, Cañon San Bernardo from Miraflores, and Cañon San Pablo from Caduaño. Hikes from the West Cape can be accessed from La Burrera ranch outside of Todos Santos.

Local Guides or Organized Tours: Unless you’re doing some easy day hiking around the foothills, it’s recommended that you hire a guide or take an organized tour to hike in the area since trails are usually not much more than cow paths or canyons through thick vegetation. From the East Cape, Baja Sierra Adventures (www.bajasierradventures.com, tel. 624/166-8706) leads guided treks with a range of day trip and overnight trip options. From the West Cape, Todos Santos Eco Adventures (tosea.net) offers various options and now has their own glamping experience in the western foothills of the Sierras as well.

When to Go: November through early spring is the most popular time for hiking. Be aware that temperatures can drop below freezing at night during the winter.

DBTC Insider Tip: If you’re not looking for a multi-day backpacking adventure, but want some fun day exploring that will give you a taste of the Sierra de la Laguna, check out Cañon de la Zorra or San Dionisio, both just outside Santiago on the East Cape. Cañon de la Zorra features a beautiful waterfall and pools and San Dionisio also has a beautiful pool and smaller waterfall, La Poza Oscura.

 

 

Photo courtesy visitloscabos.travel

Los Cabos, BCS

Why We Love It: There’s more to Cabo than just large resorts and night clubs. Hikes around Los Cabos have been gaining popularity in recent years and the trails around the area tend to offer sweeping views of the gorgeous surrounding coastlines and the Pacific and Sea of Cortez.

Best Hikes: Mt. Solmar is one of the most popular hikes in Cabo. It’s a fairly vigorous and steep hike that will take you up the mountain behind Lover’s Beach from the Pacific side or the Marina. The views are impressive and breathtaking. There are also two Satellite Tower Hikes that offer great views. One is on the mountainside behind the Costco along the Corridor. The other starts near the entrance to Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort on the Pacific Ocean side and ends at the top of a mountain with panoramic views of Cabo, the bay, and both the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean. If you’re looking for an easier walk, a stroll along the boardwalk of Estero San José del Cabo (the estuary) is a lovely place to get some exercise while taking in the birdlife and views of the estuary.

How to Hike There: There’s a lot of information online about various hiking options around Los Cabos which makes it an easy spot to hike on your own.

Local Guides or Organized Tours: There’s a local guide, Enrique Morales, who takes people on daily hikes up Mt. Solmar. You need to send him a text or what’s app to his cell at 011-52-624-122-1316 in order to join the group. Nearly every tour operator in Cabo offers options for hiking but be aware that most organized tours for hiking that depart from Cabo will actually take you outside of Los Cabos to destination in the nearby East Cape.

When to Go: Fall through spring is the most temperate weather. Summer is often too hot for hiking.

DBTC Insider Tip: In addition to the range of hikes around Los Cabos, it’s easy to get to other hikes nearby such as Camino Cabo Este, Cabo Pulmo, and even The East or West Cape if you have a little more time.

 

More Baja hiking articles can be found in the DBTC hiking archive!

 

 

 

One thought on “Peninsula Picks: Hiking in Baja

  1. Scott says:

    We have some great hikes here in Mulege and Bahia de Concepcion. https://heymulege.com/hikes/

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