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Mount Tlaloc is the 9th tallest mountain in Mexico and conveniently located in my favorite park in the world: Izta-Popo National Park.
After hiking up Izta volcano from Paso de Cortez, I knew I wanted to see more of the park, so I decided to try my hand at climbing Mount Tlaloc as well.
Because Izta-Popo National Park is so big (more than 150 square miles) this hike is completely different than the one up Izta and even starts from different town. But, it still has fab views of Izta Volcano, lush forest trails, and lots of quiet places to sit, snack, and reflect on the diverse beauty of Mexico.
I’ve lived in Mexico for almost a year now and I try to get off the beaten path on trails like this as much as I can, and write guides to help others do it too. (From Puebla we also climbed Malinche volcano and trekked through the Tlaxco slot canyon, so make sure to check those out before you go.)
This Mount Tlaloc hiking guide includes how to get to Mount Tlaloc from both Puebla and Mexico City (it sits between the two cities), where to find the trail, what to pack for the climb, and much more. Let’s get started!
View of Izta volcano from about halfway up Mount Tlaloc
Climbing Mount Tlaloc: The Stats
The basic info you need to know before you go.
Starting point: Rio Frio de Juarez
Elevation: Rio Frio sits at 9,800 feet and Mount Tlaloc peaks at 13,619 feet.
Time hiked: We only went about halfway up the mountain it it took us about five hours round trip.
Distance hiked: We hiked around eight miles from Rio Frio, halfway up the mountain to the viewpoint, and back again.
Difficulty level: Moderate, because the hike is uphill at high altitude.
Town of Rio Frio from the start of the trail up Mount Tlaloc
How to get to Mount Tlaloc
I spent three months in Mexico City and one month in Puebla, a neighboring city to the east.
The trail winding up Mount Tlaloc starts in the tiny town of Rio Frio, located at the highest point on the highway between Puebla and CDMX. It’s about an hour from each city, so I’ll cover how to get to Rio Frio and the Mount Tlaloc trail from each one.
Bus from Puebla to Rio Frio
I went to Rio Frio from Puebla and it was super easy. The trip takes about and hour, and all you have to do to get there is follow these steps:
- Check the Estrella Roja bus schedule from Puebla to Mexico City.
- Take a taxi or Uber to the CAPU bus station.
- Buy a ticket to Rio Frio from the Estrella Roja counter. You’ll be on a bus to Mexico City because Rio Frio is a stop on the way, and tickets cost 74 mxn / 4 usd each.
- Tell the driver you’re going to Rio Frio when you get on the bus.
- Keep an eye on your GPS and remind the driver you’re going to Rio Frio when you see the town getting close – otherwise, it’s such an uncommon stop that he might forget and drive right by like he did to us!
I’ve always been a sucker for those tall pines, though
Bus from Mexico City to Rio Frio
I think you can get on any bus to Puebla from Mexico City because they all take the same highway and pass by Rio Frio on the way. But, I recommend taking Estrella Roja just because that’s the company we used.
From Mexico City you can basically use the exact same steps that we took from Puebla: go to the TAPO bus station, buy a ticket to Rio Frio, and make sure to remind the driver when you’re getting close.
I don’t know exactly how much it’ll cost and how long it takes, but I’d guess it’s about the same from Puebla, around 75 mxn / 4 usd for the ticket and one hour each way.
If you don’t want to go to Tlaxco on your own, there are also guided hikes in Puebla available on Airbnb. None of them go to the Tlaxco slot canyon (it’s pretty far off the beaten path) but there are horseback riding tours, guided waterfall treks, and more.
We hiked up the trails on the left side of the town, which are much more thickly forested than the dirt road trail on the right.
How to find the Mount Tlaloc Trail
Rio Frio is small and tucked between the highway and the mountains behind it, so the trail is pretty easy to find. Walk into town from the bus stop and just… keep going straight to the forest behind it.
You can see multiple trails snaking into the mountains when you look at the town on Google maps. We went up on a trail on the left side of town and then kind of circled around and came down on a trail on the opposite side.
If you’re looking at the mountains from town, going up on the right side will be more of wider, easier-to-follow dirt road trail with views of Izta volcano almost the entire way.
If you go up on the left side, like we did, it will be more of a winding forested trail that’s more difficult to follow but also more fun. The choice is up to you, but I was happy to go up on the more difficult route and then come down on the easier one.
How to climb Mount Tlaloc
So, we didn’t actually make it to the peak of Mount Tlaloc.
We were walking uphill forever and were still so far from the peak on our GPS that we eventually just gave up.
If you want to make it all the way to the top you should be in shape (this is a high-altitude climb after all) and have a lot of time to kill – we were on the mountain for more than five hours round trip and probably only made it halfway. Luckily, there’s a really nice viewpoint about halfway up that’s a great stopping point if you’re lazy like us.
We started our hike at this GPS point and just kept going up. We climbed for about 2.5 hours then stopped for a lunch break in the woods before our final 30-minute push to the view point.
If you decide to follow in our footsteps, you’ll come out onto the wide dirt road, where you can see pleasure paths (paths worn by people walking them) leading up the side of a ridge to a huge rocky outcrop.
Keep an eye out for the wild succulents while you climb!
Climb to the rock and then scramble up it a bit to get on top and you’ll get beautiful views of Izta volcano on one side and the peak of Mount Tlaloc taunting you on the other.
If youre ready to head back to Rio Frio from here, I recommend following the dirt road all the way down the mountain. From the viewpoint back to town it should only take about an hour if you go this route. Just keep following the road and trails downhill and you’ll begin passing farms and people working in the fields until you eventually get dropped back into town.
If you don’t want to climb up the ridge and onto the rock for a view, you can skip it and just circle around back on the dirt road and you’ll still get some pretty expansive panoramas and photo opportunities on the way down.
Our viewpoint, which we deemed good enough to turn back around and begin our descent without going all the way to the peak
Getting back to Puebla or Mexico City
To get from Rio Frio to Puebla, walk back to the main highway and cross under the bridge to the other side. Walk up the stairs to the highway and wait for about five seconds for the next bus to come by. Hop on, pay the driver 74 mxn each, and you’ll be back in Puebla in an hour or less
If you’re going back to Mexico City, I imagine it works the same way, you just need to stay on the Rio Frio side of the highway. Stand on the side and wave down the next bus to pass by, then hop on, buy your ticket, and you’ll be on your way! Easy.
The forested peak of Mount Tlaloc from our viewpoint. Clearly, we were not very close to making it to the top…
What to pack for the Mount Tlaloc hike
This hike is no joke. We started around 9,800 feet and climbed to 11,100 feet, and that was only about halfway. If you’re going all the way to the top you’ll reach 13,600 feet at the peak, so it’s essential to climb Mount Tlaloc prepared. For this hike, I packed my Osprey day pack with:
- Water bottle
- Snacks and lunch
- Hand sanitizer
- Extra layers (cardigan and jacket) because it’s chilly at high altitude
- And cash for the buses / food stands
It’s not the easiest climb so I also recommend wearing sturdy hiking boots rather than just shoes (these boots are my ride or die).
Expect views like this all the way down if you descend back into town on the dirt road route
How much does it cost to climb Mount Tlaloc?
Mount Tlaloc is a super cheap day trip from Mexico City or Puebla. Since we packed snacks and a lunch all we had to pay for was transport to and from Rio Frio for our hike.
At 74 mxn per person each way, Dan and I spent a grand total of 296 mxn / 16 usd to climb Mount Tlaloc. (Although, out Uber to and from the CAPU bus station added a couple more dollars so I guess we really spent around 20 usd in total. Still totally doable for a fun and full day out!).
Ready to go?
This article is part of the Hiking in Puebla series. Read the rest below:
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