Mountain Biking on the Nevado de Toluca Volcano
The Nevado de Toluca volcano (aka Xinantecatl) dominates the horizon beyond the city of Toluca in central Mexico.
At 15,354 feet (4,680 meters), it’s the fourth largest mountain in Mexico and about 1,000 feet higher than Mt. Whitney in California, the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.
A road goes all the way up to the rim of the crumbling, extinct crater. Inside are two deep cold lakes and great views of steep mountain slopes.
In downtown Toluca, next to the center square of churches and government buildings, Don Quixote points right at the Pico de Fraile, the highest point of the wide crater:
Of all the great mountain biking spots around the city, the volcano is the greatest. I’ve ridden all over it, but last week was the first time I rode from my apartment downtown all the way up to the crater, and then all the way down on trails and two-tracks. Including a few short breaks, it took eight hours.
Past the tree line, the walls of the crater are barren and rocky:
It took more than five hours just to get to the crater. Then we started the descent. You can see Toluca off in the distance:
From here we’re about halfway back to the city. The volcano looms behind:
My friends from cycling club Escarabajos Toluca and I have been training hard for ACA Bike, a 390-km ride from Toluca in Acapulco in November. Each weekend we do long road rides around the city.
I like road riding, but I missed mountain biking. Maybe road riding reminds me too much of commuting every day by bicycle. Or maybe it lacks the adventurous unknowns of mountain biking.
However or wherever you do it, cycling is a great activity. It’s growing fast in Mexico. If you live in Mexico and want some advice, please leave a comment below.
And in other news, the president of Mexico recently removed the designation of the Nevado de Toluca as a national park. Was this done, as those responsible claim, to ensure better protection of this important natural area? Or was it done, as many others claim, as a way to further exploit the resources of the area?
We’ll have to wait and see. So far all the news is in Spanish, but here are some links to more information about these new developments: