Exploring Los Cabos’ wild side is easier than you think
By Chris Sands
Los Cabos has seen a lot of development during the past 40 years—from luxury beachfront resorts to world-class golf courses—but hiking aficionados will find the area still offers plenty of dirt trails, pristine coastal stretches, and desert and mountain terrain to explore. In fact, some of the region’s best nature hikes and spectacular vantage points are located near hotels and shopping plazas in the cape cities of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo.
Here are five of our favorites, broken down by level of difficulty.
The Historic San José Estuary
Difficulty Level: Easy
This protected wildlife sanctuary can be easily accessed from the zona hotelera—the beachfront area in San José del Cabo that hosts many of the city’s best hotels—or from the downtown area via the palm-lined Paseo del Estero. The estuary offers a serene and frequently shady stroll. It is a favorite of visiting birdwatchers, with an array of colorful residents that include frigate birds, red-tailed hawks, sparrow hawks, and white herons.
Cabo Adventures Outback and Camel Safari
Difficulty Level: Easy
This tour is probably best known for its camel rides, which occur along unspoiled shoreline on the Pacific Coast north of Cabo San Lucas. But the half-day outback safari also includes a guided nature hike through desert terrain—if you’ve never seen a 50-foot-tall cactus, this is your chance—with excellent information about the Baja Peninsula’s flora and fauna. Cabo Adventures (624-173-9500) is one of the region’s best outdoor activities companies, and this is the company’s most popular offering. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the outing also includes a tequila tasting and a traditional Mexican meal.
The Waterfall at Santiago
Difficulty Level: Easy–Moderate
One of the Los Cabos municipality’s most beautiful hikes starts outside the small town of Santiago (see map on page 96) and concludes with lovely views of a 35-foot waterfall cascading into a secluded lagoon. The waterfall is located in the Cañón de la Zorra at Rancho Sol de Mayo, and guides may be hired locally. The waterfall is a perfect picnic spot; those who prefer sit-down service can opt the Palomar Hotel and Restaurant (624-130-2019), which is also worth visiting. The kitchen prepares the best food in Santiago, and the Palomar was once the haunt of Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Bing Crosby, who flew down for the area’s superb white-winged dove hunting.
Satellite Towers Hikes
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Satellite towers are generally situated at the highest elevation levels available. That’s certainly the case in Los Cabos, where two of the area’s most satisfying hikes wind toward the bases of these high-altitude landmarks. The first begins along the Tourist Corridor, behind the world’s most strategically situated Costco store. But if you think the Land’s End views from the parking are great, wait until you work your way up the mountainside. There is a dirt trail that offers an easy, gradual ascension until the left turn at a white metal fence. From that point it’s a semisteep switchback trail that climaxes with unforgettable views that extend for miles and miles.
The other satellite tower hike starts near the entrance to the Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Resort on the Pacific Coast of Cabo San Lucas, and it ends atop a mountain with magnificent views of the city, Cabo San Lucas Bay and the Sea of Cortés, the Pacific Ocean, and the wealthy hillside enclave of Pedregal. This is a popular trail with hikers, dog walkers, and of course photographers, since the panoramic vistas are among the most memorable in all of Baja.
Difficulty Level: Hard
The Sierra de la Laguna mountain range stretches north of Los Cabos. The UNESCO-protected area has long been a favorite of hikers who appreciate the range’s challenging uphill climbs and its wonderful array of flora and fauna. El Picacho is the mountain generally considered the ultimate test for visiting hikers. To ascend Picacho, you’ll need to walk about 15 miles and climb close to 7,000 feet above sea level. It’s not a hike for beginners, and professional guides are recommended. Access to El Picacho is available near Pescadero, south of Todos Santos.
Sound a bit daunting? Don’t worry. You can always take the easy way out and arrange a comfortable, chauffeured Los Cabos city tour through Cabo Expeditions (624-143-2700).