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.

pp volcano from servicios aeros

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:

pointing statue volcano

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:

volcan 7

volcan 8

volcan 5

volcan 4

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:

volcan 11

volcan 13

From here we’re about halfway back to the city. The volcano looms behind:

volcan 14

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.

volcan 1

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:

Peña Nieto quita al Nevado de Toluca la categoría de Parque Nacional

Los cambios en el Nevado de Toluca, en un gráfico


About Ted Campbell

U.S.-Canadian writer, translator and university teacher in Mexico. Travel stories and practical tips on my blog No Hay Bronca: Twitter: @NoHayBroncaBlog // Contact: nohaybroncablog (at)

Posted on October 12, 2013, in cycling / MTB, Mexico and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. central Mexico is very famous place for cycling. I never come here but i will try to come here my next rips. Thanks for sharing this great info.

  2. Hola TC,

    I live in Toluca since April and would really love to go biking. Are you still active in Toluca? I don’t care wether it is road- or mountainbiking, I’m really desperate here. Didn’t find any place yet to rent a bike in Toluca (I’m here for only three months), so I would appreciate your help, if you have any ideas. 🙂

    Would also love to do a ride together.. any chances?

    Many thanks,

    • Hi Mike. Thanks for the comment. I don’t know any place to rent bikes in Toluca – if you can’t find one here and you want to ride, you should take the bus to Mexico City. You can get bikes in Chapultepec, and as you probably know there are lots of bike routes in the city. If you do find a bike in Toluca, a good place to start is Wednesday nights at the glorieta de colon – a big group of cyclists gets together there around 8 p.m. For something more advanced, look for escarabajos toluca on facebook – that’s my cycling group. They do more intense rides Thursday nights leaving from the zocalo around 8. Good luck! I’ll be a little busy for the next month, but you may see me on a ride with the escarabajos.

  3. Joret olivier

    Hi, I am from South Africa and living in Mexico city, Santa Fe. I am a keen mountain biker and would like to start riding some single tracks and find some new mtb trails. Please would you kindly advise the best way to join or get into cycling groups here in Mexico and also where to find mtb races.

    Many thanks

    • Hi Joret, I know there are good trails by Santa Fe. I was just there two weeks ago. I don´t remember all the names, but there are lots of trails between there and Desierto de Los Leones.

      I went to a bike shop in the mall once, on the side opposite the highway, near VIPs, and the worker there was a mountain biker. You could ask there.

      My cycling group is in Toluca but members have lots of friends who ride in Mexico City. It´s called Escarabajos Toluca and you could leave a message on the facebook page.

      I hope that helps!

  1. Pingback: The Rise of Cycling in Mexico: Toluca to Mexico City by Bike | no hay bronca

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: