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If you want to hike in Mexico City, Izta-Popo National Park is one of the absolute best options.
Daniel and went on a day trip from Mexico City and it was so easy to get to and from the park on public transportation.
If you want to see the second and third tallest mountains in Mexico and hike next to an active volcano, this article will get you there. It covers:
- The legend of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl
- Izta-Popo hiking stats (distance, elevation gain, etc.)
- How much does it cost to hike in Izta-Popo National Park?
- How to get to Izta-Popo National Park (without a car)
- What to pack for a day trip to Izta-Popo National Park
- Where to Hike in Izta-Popo National Park (the easy route and the hard route)
- And much more!
Get out of the city and into some fresh air with this guide with everything you need to know to hike in Izta-Popo National Park!
Believe it or not, I still got sunburned on this hike
The Legend of Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl
I read the tale of Izta and Popo in this awesome biligual book about the stories of Mexico. The legend of these two volcanoes is also a legend of two young lovers.
Once, many years ago, there was an Aztec emperor. His daughter, Iztaccíhuatl, was very beautiful.
When the emperor’s country went to war, he announced that the warrior who led the army to victory would marry his daughter and ascend his throne. He did not know that Iztaccíhuatl was already in love with the bravest warrior: Popocatépetl.
Popocatépetl also loved Izta, and promised he would always be by her side. He led the army to war, but a jealous lover returned to the emporer and announced that Popocatépetl was killed.
Izta died from her grief.
Finally, Popo returned from war and announced his victory, but it was too late. He carried Izta into the mountains and mourned beside her for days.
The gods turned the two lovers into volcanoes so they would always be together. Izta is sleeping while Popo watches over her and erupts with grief over his lost love.
Izta-Popo National Park: The Stats
If you decide to follow the route we took (detailed below) this is the hiking time, length, and elevation gain you can expect.
But the cool thing is that you can see both Izta and Popo from right near the entrance to the park, so if you don’t have it in you to go all this way I still recommend visiting and taking at least a short walk in this beautiful place.
Distance from Mexico City: 1.5 hours by bus
Hike Time: 6 – 8 hours
Hiking Distance: 20 km / 12.4 miles
Altitude: Start at 11,105 ft and climb to 13,047 ft
Izta from the front of the park near Paso de Cortes. You can get views of both volcanoes without any strenuous upwill hiking
How Much Does it Cost to Hike in Izta-Popo National Park?
I was going to say this is a super cheap hike in Mexico City, but after adding up the expenses I’m kind of surprised.
However, almost all of our costs were spent on transportation. We spent:
- 60 pesos for an Uber to get from our apartment to the bus station in Mexico City
- 70 pesos per person for round trip bus ticket from Mexico City to Amecameca and back
- 250 pesos for a taxi from Amecameca to Paso de Cortes
- 35 pesos per person to enter Izta-Popo National Park
- 150 pesos on a taxi from the park back to Amecameca
- 60 pesos for an Uber from the Mexico City bus station back to our apartment
- At least we had the foresight to pack our own food and water for a picnic lunch!
In total, the price for the Izta-Popo National Park hike in Mexico City was 730 pesos / 39 usd for two people.
If you have a car, though, you can cut costs almost to zero.
Bridge over nothing leading to our not-so-secret-but-very-serene picnic spot
How to Get to Izta-Popo National Park by Bus
Getting to Izta-Popo National Park from Mexico City is pretty simple.
First, take a taxi, uber, or metro to the TAPO bus station. From here, look for the “Volcanes” bus line sign. It’s easy to spot and once you do just walk through the room to their ticket station.
We paid 35 pesos / 2 usd each for our ticket and hopped on the next bus to a town called Amecameca.
They leave multiple times an hour, so don’t worry about scheduling. Once you arrive in Amecameca, turn right out of the bus station and walk down the street to the main square. Here you’ll see a line of taxis and you can grab the first one.
Negotiate with the driver on a price to Paso de Cortes where you will enter Izta-Popo National Park. It’s about 30 minutes away from Amecameca, so expect to pay between 150 to 300 pesos depending on your negotiating skills.
We paid 250 pesos / 13 usd for our ride up.
View of Popo from Izta Volcano
You should try to go as early as you can and there are a couple reasons I recommend this.
First, the ride out only took an hour because there wasn’t traffic, which was nice because it took about 1.5 hours on the way back to Mexico City in the afternoon.
Second, we were on the 6:40 am bus so we got to see a beautiful sunrise over the mountains as we drove, which definitely made the ride more enjoyable.
Third, on our hike we had super clear skies and amazing views all morning.
Then, just like everywhere else in Mexico City, the smog and haze rolled in and majorly obstructed Popo Volcano. Clouds usually gather in the afternoons to hide the peak of Izta too, and she was almost completely out of sight by noon.
Because these two volcanoes are the main attractions of Izta-Popo National Park, there’s really no point in planning this as an afternoon trip. If you can’t go early, it’s probably not worth visiting, unfortunately.
But if you can…. do it! The views are really unforgettable on a clear and crisp morning.
Lunch with a mf view. Make sure to pack food because there’s almost none sold in the park. Plus, it’s nice to enjoy a picnic with Popo volcano!
What to Pack for Your Hike in Izta-Popo National Park
The Izta-Popo hike is a long day from Mexico City and back, so prepare accordingly so you can still enjoy it.
This is what I packed for the trip:
- A small backpack – I always recommend my ultra-durable Osprey Farpoint bag.
- Two water bottles per person
- Sunscreen! I got pretty burned on this high-altitude hike without it.
- Bring layers. I started in a fleece jacket, then switched to a light cardigan, and finally completed the hike in just a t-shirt. Temperatures change quickly in the shade and sun on mountains, so be prepared with warm and cool clothes.
- After Paso de Cortes there is nowhere to get food and water (except possibly a small market stall at La Joya) so pack lots of snacks and lunch too.
- 12 miles is no joke. Wear comfy hiking shoes – personally, I wear and recommend Timberland boots.
- Cash for all the buses and taxis
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Where to Hike in Izta-Popo National Park (the easy route and the hard route)
Once you arrive at Paso de Cortes you can buy your 35 peso / 2 usd entrance band at the small park office and start your hike. I also recommend stocking up on water and snacks here if you haven’t already because you have quite the trek ahead of you.
Below are two of the most popular routes through Izta-Popo National Park. We did the harder, longer one, but I’ll also tell you how to cut the hike short while still getting all of the same beautiful views!
Option 1: Paso de Cortes Round Trip Hike (12.5 Miles)
You have two different options to see the active volcanoes in Izta-Popo National Park and it really just depends on how much you want to walk.
We did the Paso de Cortes roundtrip hike and I’m not going to lie… it was long. It’s mostly on a dirt road and some cars will pass from time to time.
The hike is 6.2 miles from Paso de Cortes to La Joya.
During the hike we had the road almost to ourselves most of the time, watched Popo Volcano erupt (twice!), and had beautiful views of the Izta Volcano.
The signs pointing to La Joya are very obvious and easy to follow. There were also side trails to a secluded rest station with picnic tables where we stopped for an early lunch, and others that leave the main road and branch into the prairies on the mountainsides.
We left Paso de Cortes around 8:45 am and reached La Joya at 11:15 (with lots of breaks, picture stops, and lunch in between). The whole hike so far had been easy, flat, or just gradually uphill.
Once you get to La Joya, that changes.
Tiny people, big mountain. This is where the trail really starts to go uphill from the La Joya parking lot.
At La Joya there is a parking lot where a lot of people opt to start their trek instead. This is where you can finally step foot on the Izta Volcano.
The main trail veers upwards and it’s a steep climb. It does even out eventually, but the high altitude and uphill battle mean it’s definitely not easy. We only climbed on Izta for a short amount of time.
After abut 15 minutes, we saw a small path that left the main one and went right.
We climbed it and emerged on the ridge to the most amazing views of Izta behind us, Popo to the left, and the sweeping valley and city laid out to our right. It was a seriously amazing photo op.
From there, we decided to turn around because we still had a LONG way back to Paso de Cortes. We started the trek down, walked past La Joya, and continued the 6.2 miles back to Paso de Cortes.
With one mile left (we had walked 11.5 in total at this point) a taxi driver passed us. He was headed back to Amecameca from dropping a passenger at La Joya and we happily flagged him down.
From here, it was only 150 pesos / 8 usd to get us back to Paso de Cortes and then all the way down to Amecameca bus station.
If a taxi doesn’t pass you (I wouldn’t count on the good luck) you can wait at Paso de Cortes for one. They come to drop off tourists fairly often and it shouldn’t be a problem finding one for the way back.
I did this hike during the ‘take a photo of the back of my head’ Instagram phase. I’m sorry.
Option 2: La Joya to Paso de Cortes One Way Hike (7 Miles)
After our experience I had another idea for an easier way to see the best that Izta-Popo National Park has to offer without walking so far.
This second option gives you a chance to see the awesome landscapes and active volcano without having to hike all 12.5 miles from Paso de Cortes to La Joya and back.
If you want to cut your hike to 7 miles, have your taxi driver take you from Amecameca all the way to La Joya.
You can start your hike here and climb up Izta for a bit, and then turn around and hike down to Paso de Cortes. You’ll see all the gorgeous views we did without having to back track or repeat upon yourself.
The total trek distance would be a mile or two up and down Izta from La Joya, and then 6.2 miles from La Joya to Paso de Cortes. Definitely a good option to consider!
More of Popo. She’s photogenic from every angle.
Hiking in Izta-Popo National Park Near Mexico City
A trek in Izta-Popo National Park is a great one day hike in Mexico City.
It’s easy to access, the trails are well-maintained, and the views are truly stunning. You can hike on Izta Volcano herself and watch Popo erupt multiple times from afar.
If you want to turn it into a weekend excursion, can even bring some camping gear and spend a night or two here… I bet the starry nights would be beautiful.
I spent five weeks in Mexico City and visiting Izta-Popo National Park was definitely my favorite experience. If you’re into hiking and nature at all, this day trip is a must.
Use this guide to visit Izta-Popo National Park or click here to book a hassle-free tour from Mexico City. You can also challenge yourself to reach the peak of Izta Volcano with this guide on Summit Post about the permits, timing, and where to sleep in the park.
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Mexico City and then explore accomodation like furnished apartments and unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in the city.
This article is part of the Mexico City Hiking Series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore the complete Mexico Series for 40+ more articles on what to see, eat, do, and discover in the country.
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