The Best Places to Go Hiking in and Around Mexico City

Trek around Paso de Cortés National Park for beautiful views of the Iztaccíhuatl volcano
Trek around Paso de Cortés National Park for beautiful views of the Iztaccíhuatl volcano | © MStudio Images / Getty Images
Fiorella Madrid

The crowded, busy capital may not seem like an outdoorsy destination. But nearby national parks, forests and volcanoes mean there are plenty of places to hike from Mexico City. Here are the best.

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1. Desierto de los Leones National Park

Park, Natural Feature, Hiking Trail

A forested valley covered in trees in the Desierto de los Leones National Park
© Erick Rebollo / Getty Images
Desierto de los Leones (Desert of the Lions) is one of the biggest and most popular national parks in Mexico City. It stretches from the boroughs of Cuajimalpa to Álvaro Obregón and includes part of the Sierra de las Cruces mountain range. The first convent in Mexico was built here in the 17th century – today it’s a tourist site – and Mexican president Venustiano Carranza declared the convent and national park open to the public in 1917. Now, the cool temperature and beautiful landscapes make it particularly popular with athletes, runners and hikers. To get there, head to Barranca del Muerto metro station and catch a bus to Santa Rosa. Or take the Mexico-Toluca highway or Avenida de los Insurgentes.

2. Nevado de Toluca National Park

Park

A green crater lake in Nevado de Toluca, surrounded by steep, rocky peaks
© Jessica Pichardo / Getty Images

The jewel in the crown of Nevado de Toluca National Park is Nevado de Toluca itself, an inactive volcano. Arguably the most striking volcano in Mexico, it’s popular with day trippers from Mexico City, who come to see the often snowy peaks and the two bright-blue lakes that lie in its craters. The park is easily reachable via car, just remember to wrap up warm and take it easy with the altitude.

3. El Tepeyac National Park

Park

A statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe and her followers on Tepeyac hill in Mexico City
© Matt Mawson / Getty Images

In northern Mexico City, this undulating national park, which includes part of the Guadalupe Mountains, is the perfect place to admire the capital. It also contains the high and low parts of the Tepeyac, Guerrero and Santa Isabel hills, which makes it a great hiking and cycling spot. And for a post-walk adventure, you can visit the nearby Basílica de Guadalupe, one of the must-visit attractions in Mexico City.

4. Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

Park

Mounds of straw tied up in a pyramid shape in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park
© Fany Hdz / Getty Images

The Cumbres del Ajusco is one of the top national parks in Mexico City. Dominating half of the capital, it’s home to the highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Águila, plus a range of colorful flora and fauna. It’s also where you’ll find the vegetation-covered dome of the Xitle volcano, which erupted in the early half of the first millennium, destroying the city of Cuicuilco.

5. Los Dinamos National Park

Park

A multi-level waterfall on the Magdelena River flows over large boulders in Los Dinamos National Park
© Omar Torres / Getty Images
Los Dinamos, in the Magdalena Contreras borough of Mexico City, is named after an old local textile factory. But the modern attractions are far more natural – beautiful forests and waterfalls along the Magdalena River and plenty of hiking, camping and fishing opportunities. Nearby, there are vendors selling mushroom soup, quesadillas and pulque (an alcoholic drink made from fermented maguey plant sap). Get to the national park via the metro by going to Tasqueña station and taking a bus.

6. El Tepozteco

Park, Ruins, Archaeological site

The three-levelled stone temple El Tepozteco, with tourists peaking over the first and second floors
© Matt Gush / iStock
El Tepozteco is a mountain-top temple in the state of Morelos. It’s said the temple was built in honor of Tepoztécatl, the Aztec god of drunkenness. It may be an unconventional hiking destination, but climb the hill to the temple and you’ll get an amazing panoramic view of Tepoztlán, one of the most popular pueblos mágicos (magic towns) in Mexico. It takes about three hours to get here by bus from Mexico City; tourists come from all over to enjoy the beautiful views and the hike is suitable for all abilities.

7. El Paso de Cortés

Hiking Trail

Popocatepetl volcano puffs out smoke, with a large, green forest at its foot
© Jose Carlos Macouzet Espinosa / Getty Images
El Paso de Cortés, a passage between the Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl volcanoes, is full of history. It’s said Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his men passed through on their way to Tenochtitlan and even climbed the former to get sulphur for gunpowder. The volcanoes themselves are among the highest peaks in the country, and have a beautiful-yet-tragic love story behind them. A walk around the Paso de Cortes National Park is the easiest way to see both peaks, with routes for beginners and more experienced hikers.

8. La Malinche National Park

Park

A man walks with his bike along a grass path marked out by stones in La Malinche National Park
© Eduardo Mendez / Getty Images
In Tlaxcala state, La Malinche offers a range of outdoor activities, including climbing the eponymous volcano. It was named after the indigenous woman who was Hernán Cortés’s translator, but before that was named after Tlaxcalan god Matlalcueitl. Because La Malinche is an active volcano, it has a lot of security and entrance is restricted whenever eruption alerts sound. During dormant moments, this is an amazing hiking spot with beautiful pines, flowers and conifers.

9. Pico de Orizaba

Natural Feature, Park

Clouds gather in a blue sky above the snowy top of Pico de Orizaba
© Hagens World Photography / Getty Images
Pico de Orizaba (also known as Citlaltépetl) is the highest volcano in the country. It’s the main attraction of the Pico de Orizaba National Park, which is split between Veracruz and Puebla states, and home to a variety of trees, including pines, oyameles (religious or sacred firs) and cypresses. Five rivers originate here (Blanco, Cotaxtla, Jamapa, Metlac and Orizaba) which are water sources to many towns between Puebla and Veracruz. Hikers are afforded spectacular views, including a glimpse of the Hacienda Vista Hermosa, a building founded by Hernán Cortés in 1529 and converted into a hotel in 1944.

Additional words by Sam Murray.

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