The Nevado de Toluca or Xinantécatl (4,680m/15,354ft) is a Mexican volcano situated in the State of Mexico, a two-hour drive from Distrito Federal and less than one hour away from the city of Toluca. It is considered a great place to get started in mountaineering, as its degree of difficulty and altitude is moderate, provided that you have some level of acclimatization. It can be planned as a one-day trekking trip.
We drive from Distrito Federal to Toluca, and then head for Valle de Bravo, and continue to a village called Raíces, following a beautiful road surrounded by forests.
After a few kilometers on a dirt road, we pay the entrance to the park (forty pesos per car), and drive to a parking place called “La Pluma” (the “Feather”), where we start our trek, at an altitude of 4,000 meters.
After an easy trek of over 800 meters, we reach the rim of the crater. A stunning view opens before our eyes. The crater is more than one kilometer wide, and contains several lakes, such as Laguna del Sol or La Luna (the Sun’s and the Moon’s). The slopes of the volcano are reflected on the surface of the water, giving us an opportunity to take awesome pictures.
Nevado is a misnomer, as this mountain is rarely covered with snow. However, during certain times of the year, you will need crampons and ice-ax to climb it.
The normal route follows an easy walk of about two kilometers, which takes us inside the crater, and up a scree slope, to a height of over 4,400 meters. The next section will require the use of you hands, although the grade is never higher than four on the French scale (5.4 American).
We climb following the rim, along an additional kilometer, with awesome views of the inside of the crater. We then reach the summit, at 4,680m, called the “Friars Peek” (Pico del Fraile in Spanish).
We usually descend down a scree slope on the other side of the summit. You can also retrace the ascent route. In either case, you will come down to the bottom of the crater, go around the Lake of the Sun, and be back in the parking lot.
The duration of this trek is between five and seven hours, depending on your fitness level.