We were drawn to Baja, Mexico by the thoughts of warm sand, clear ocean, and cold margaritas. What we found there was even better! The Baja Peninsula has a range of mountains that runs all the way down its length. They are part of the coastal ranges that run all the way from Alaska down to the tip of the Peninsula. The Sonoran desert also extends into Baja. The shoreline, mountains, and desert combined offer so many diverse opportunities for hiking and exploring. We only scratched the surface of this pristine, wild land. What we discovered has us longing for more time to explore this beautiful area.
Most of the hiking we did this year was near the tiny town of Loreto. Loreto is on the Gulf of California side about 400 miles north of Cabo San Lucas. Many visitors to Baja discount Loreto because the waters are not as warm as they are further south, and the town is much quieter than the typical tourist destinations. However, Loreto was one of our favorite places.
The hiking near Loreto was especially attractive to us because it was mostly canyon hiking. There are technical canyoneering opportunities, but we stuck to non-technical exploration, and still enjoyed some of the most beautiful canyons we have seen. These canyons were amazing oases of crystal clear water falls and pools, greenery and palm trees. We felt like true explorers as we scrambled, swam, climbed, and hiked up the canyons as far as we could each day. Each corner we would turn, we would plan to turn back, but the beauty kept urging us forward. We really hope to do some multi-day trips up the canyons to see how far we can go. Our three favorite hikes were:
Tabor/Steinbeck’s Canyon – one of the most known hikes, named for John Steinbeck.
Mesquite Canyon – lots of refreshing swimming in crystal clear pools!
El Río del Pez – lots of scrambling and the owner of the land (and grand son of the original settlers who built the historic ranch) joined us on horseback for much of the hike and shared his passion for his land with us.
While most information about hiking in Baja is gathered by talking to the locals and long-time visitors there, one couple wrote a book giving basic directions to some of the hikes in Loreto. It is worth checking out since it is pretty challenging to locate some of these places. There are no markers or signs, and lots of river beds and off-road trails to get lost on. DeeDee and Dave Kelly’s book “Hiking Loreto” is a great resource, and can be ordered on-line.
This year we plan to explore higher up in the mountains, hiking in the area near La Paz. Picacho de la Sierra and other treks are beckoning us. Many of the mountain hikes we want to explore are multi-day trips, so we will be looking for someone to stay in our RV and dog sit for a few days!