post-title Hiking Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hiking Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hiking Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Hiking, Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Sierra de la Laguna, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

By Sabrina Lear – Article from Los Cabos Magazine – Issue #7, December 2000.
When you fly into Los Cabos over seemingly endless desert landscape and take your first glimpse of the end of the peninsula and glinting Sea of Cortez, you might think a hiking trip into the remote Sierra La Laguna mountains would be the last thing you’d find yourself doing. Afterall, you came here to hang out at those captivating beaches you saw in the brochures, relax, and do little else—think again. The rugged terrain surrounding this golden coast is teeming with experiences to challenge you physically and recharge you mentally.

Climbing, mountain biking, hiking, or just walking a deserted mountain trail are all rewarding ways to get in touch with the natural environment. Too often we limit ourselves to the safe and the known, never pushing the edge of the envelope to learn what we are really capable of. The Sierra La Laguna is there for you to find out.

The towering 6,000-foot peaks of the Sierra La Laguna mountain range run true north to south and frame the western skyline of San Jose del Cabo, yet few visitors know of its magic. The craggy peaks form a majestic counterpoint to the vastness of the desert terrain. Part of the Pacific Crest, which includes some of the most famous National Parks in the world including Denali and Yosemite, the Sierra La Laguna is the southern most range of the Crest system and one of the least exploited natural environments left in Mexico. At its apex, the range receives around forty inches of rain annually and in the late summer months it is shrouded in mist and cloud, lightening dancing off its rocky face. Surrounded by desert to the north and water on the other three sides, within this range is a complicated and rare ecosystem consisting of alpine, subtropical and desert vegetation, coexisting in a pristine and lush environment. Home to meager ranchos and used primarily as open range land, the lower levels are becoming increasingly overgrazed, which will eventually threaten the replenishment of aquifers that supply water to the inhabitants at sea level below.

The southern, lower portion of these craggy reaches can be accessed fairly easily from the Los Naranjos road, reached via Highway 1, heading north from San Jose del Cabo. To make the trip you’ll need a sturdy vehicle with good clearance. Follow the highway past the airport and the small settlement of Santa Anita; the road is signed and not far past the turn off to the propane filling station. Beginning as a straight cut northwest through desert scrub, the road slowly ascends the mountainside. Once you’ve climbed into the mountains, stop and look back. The view is outstanding. Between here and the pass to Pescadero on the Pacific Ocean, you will drive through several distinct changes in topography. Desert vegetation gives way to lush palms and subtropicals. At the highest elevations of the range, pine, oak and madrone thrive in a garden-like setting.

Until late spring, cascading falls of water tumble over smooth round boulders and dribble across the road as you drive. If you hike up the streams on foot, you’ll be rewarded with clear rock pools, exotic vegetation and heavenly solitude. The very informative Baja California Plant and Field Guide, by Norman Roberts is the perfect companion for those interested in the multitude of plant species living in this unusual eco-system. As you continue driving the cork-screw turns, you will pass the occasional road leading off to isolated ranchos. Stay on the road most traveled and you won’t lose your way. Anywhere along here is a good place to start exploring. The scenery is gorgeous, the air pure and clean and you’ve got the entire place to your own. Occasionally a ranch family or cowboy on horseback will wave as he passes so be sure to wave back.

Eventually the road will flatten out and you will round a very narrow bend, the road clinging to the mountainside, and the Pacific Ocean will be visible in the distance. The expansive view is breath-taking. The road is not always accessible past this point, after the summer rainy season the road may be washed out due to flash flooding. If it’s open you may descend to the small farming and fishing village of Pescadero, south of Todos Santos, and return to Los Cabos on Highway 19.

To climb the summit, El Picacho, access is from south of Todos Santos near Pescadero, however, the range is rugged and wild and not for novice hikers. The climb is a strenuous hike of about fifteen miles, with a total elevation gain of around 6,000 feet. At the top of the range, four peaks surround a dry mountain lake; long ago drained to supply agricultural needs during the mining boom of the late 19th and early 20th-century. The lake-bed is now a scrub meadow, which affords a good base camp for climbers before the final climb to the top. Overnighting at the dry lakebed is recommended with an ascent to the summit the next morning. Provisions and guides are available through several outfitters, although no one is presently offering regular guided climbs.

The best months to attempt the climb are late November to early March. You may not need to prove you can conquer these 6,000 foot mountains, yet a daytrip into the lofty other-world of Los Cabos will still test your mettle. Hikers wanting information or an up-to-date list of guides may contact the Tourist Information Office in San Jose del Cabo 624-142-2960, ext. 150.

Hiking, Take a Walk on the Wild Side, Sierra de la Laguna, Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
By Sabrina Lear – Article from Los Cabos Magazine – Issue #7, December 2000.

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