Hiking and trekking in La Paz

There’s more than water activities in La Paz – Let’s go hiking!

The Sea of Cortez may be the star around here, but there’s more than one way to appreciate that vast expanse of crystal blue; how about from up on high? You’re going to want to save space in your luggage for a pair of running shoes under your flip flops!

The mountainous and rocky geology of Baja California Sur is volcanic in origin. The violent eruptions and tectonic shifts of the past have left us a magnificent natural playground to discover and explore: colourful minerals, cliff-clinging cacti, and drought-adapted fauna & flora so incredibly diverse that I highly recommend picking up a field guide upon arrival to La Paz.

Read on, as I elaborate on two popular hiking options around La Paz for beginner and intermediate hikers. I’ll also put a Google Maps link to the starting point for each one.

The urban sunset hike. The La Paz sunsets are FAMOUS…those pinks and oranges and flaming reds lighting up the sky and reflecting off the waters of the bay…you’ll be taking in more than one from the palm-lined pedestrian walkway called the Malecón, I guarantee you. Or, if you’re lucky, right from your accommodation with Trip&homes.

Plan ahead for one of these evening strolls and lace up those runners for a quick and

easy hike up the sandstone hill framing the north end of the Malecon – the Cerro de la

Calavera, or “skull hill” in English, gets its name from the wistful yet also slightly creepy

shapes that have been carved out of the soft rock by millennia of lashings by rain and

wind.

This hike has numerous routes to the ultimate end, so you mountain goat types can scramble the steeper, more direct route up the southern side, while you hands-behind-your-back types can loop a bit further around to the eastern path that combines a dirt road with a gently sloping trail. At the very most, this ascent will take you 30 minutes.

Pro tip: Don’t worry if you feel a bit unsure about tackling this hike without knowing exactly the path or not finding much official information on it! Being such a popular hike so close to La Paz, you won’t be alone! You’ll easily be able to follow folks up or down if you feel you’ll need to.

Do watch your step on loose rocks depending on which path you elect to take, and definitely bring a light source for the way down after dark (read: don’t totally burn through that cell phone battery snapping Insta pics!)

Starting point: 24° 11′ 3.9401″ N 110° 17′ 57.6528″ W

The travel magazine cover-shot hike

Balandra Bay – you’ve heard of it, you’ve looked at a million pictures, and you’re starting to get an idea of how it was twice voted “The Most Beautiful Beach in Mexico”. But, do notice that most of the eye-popping photos of Balandra are taken from altitude!

Visiting Balandra by car will allow you access to the parking lot and the only beach accessible by foot. However, the main beach is part of a much larger protected area – the bay itself actually has 7 white sand beaches in perfect arcs, as well as a large section of mangroves and dunes; most of this can’t be properly appreciated from ground level.

A few miles before the official entrance to Balandra Bay, there is a trail head that takes you on a gentle climb towards a northward-facing summit. It can be hard to spot if there aren’t already a couple of cars parked at the foot of the hill, but my Google Maps location below will be exact; trust it! You pull off the highway and briefly cross the desert terrain until you reach a “private property” sign attached to a fence. This sign is quite rightly ignored by the hundreds of people that hike this trail everyday, as access federal waters and the coastline is a right enshrined in the Mexican constitution!

After about 30 minutes of walking, and taking each right fork in the path on your way up, you reach the lookout point and the stunning, magazine-cover view of the entire Balandra Bay! Only from up here can you fully absorb the myriad of colours and textures crafted by mother nature in this magical place.

Pro tip: You’re hiking in a flora and fauna protected area, so please pack out whatever you pack in and don’t collect any of the colourful rocks or fossilized corals you’ll see on along the trail.

Starting point: 24° 18′ 16.4196″ N 110° 19′ 10.9387″ W

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