Introducing Nevado de Toluca

Among the highest peaks in the region, the long-extinct volcano Nevado de Toluca (also known as Xinantécatl) is Mexico’s fourth-tallest peak. Nevado has two summits on the crater rim. The lower summit, Pico del Aguila (4620m), is closer to the parking area and is the more common day hike. The main or highest summit is called Pico del Fraile (4704m) and requires an additional three to four hours of hike time.

The earlier you reach the summit, the better the chance of clear views. The crater contains two lakes, El Sol and La Luna. The summit area can be snowy from November to March, and is sometimes good for cross-country skiing but the Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca is closed during the heaviest snowfalls.

From the park entrance a road winds 3.5km up to the main gate; last entry is at 3pm. From there it’s a 17km drive along an unsurfaced road up to the crater. Dress warmly – it gets chilly up top.

Just beyond the gate, Posada Familiar offers basic lodging at a heavily used refuge with shared hot showers, a kitchen (without utensils) and a common area with a fireplace. Bring extra blankets. On Saturday and Sunday, food is served at stalls around Parque de los Venados and at the gate near the summit. Midweek, bring your own food and water.

From Toluca, taxis will take you to the trailhead for upwards of M$250, or there and back (including time for a look around) for a negotiable M$500. Be sure to hire a newer taxi; the road up is very rough and dusty. Most international car rental companies also have offices in Toluca.

Mario Andrade leads one-day climbs and also guides climbers on Izta ascents.