Nevado de Colima is a high peak, 4,350m high which can be either a non-technical walk or technical climb. The hike has views of the neighboring active volcano and you can often see steam / smoke coming from it, we even heard some interesting grumbling. You can also have views of the Pacific Ocean, if the weather cooperates. The terrain changes a lot throughout the hike, from green pines, to ash / sand to large boulders, certainly keeping you entertained!
There are several options to climb Nevado de Colima. We followed ‘Route 1’ since it was the easiest trail head to find and to our understanding, Route 3 and 4 are technical rock climbs. The easiest option is to drive to the antennas and walk a few km to the summit (Route 1a).
We did: Route 1
Length: 9km round-trip
Elevation gain: 800m
Time: 3 hours round trip
Yes! It’s included with the Park entrance fee (~$27 pesos/person). There are several spots – one primary camping ground with several ‘canopies’. Further up the road there are other more dispersed spots, but not too many. There’s one large one that we managed to get – it’s about ½ km past the main camping area.
From Ciudad Guzman, drive west towards the National Park on Hwy 429. Follow a dirt road (http://goo.gl/maps/fJr3P) up the mountain for ~18km to the gate of the national park. The road was fine for any car. After paying the entrance fee of ~$27 pesos, you continue through the gate. Approximately .5 km past the gate the road splits, stay to the left. After another km you’ll come up to La Joya, a big open space with some building on your left. Pretty much immediately after that, you’ll reach the primary camping area on the right with a bunch of shelters with tables underneath. On our way up Friday night, this area was empty however on the way out Saturday late afternoon, there were a bunch of cars. To camp, we continued further up, another ½ km or so, to a spot on the right side of the road with a large barn and covered picnic table – we had the spot to ourselves and had great views including of the peak whenever it wasn’t hidden in the clouds. You can’t miss this spot once you pass the primary camping area- it’s also right before a sharp right turn that goes down a relatively steep hill.
Trail head and route details:
From the main camping area (just past La Joya), follow the road up to where there are several black barrels. There is a fence right behind the barrels and along the left side of which the trail runs. Follow this trail until you get back to the road. Turn right on the road and follow it 50m past a blue barrel to where you’ll see a small pull out on the right side in front of some pine trees. (Disclosure: we camped about 50m past this point so we back tracked 50m to this part of the trail.) You will see the trail markers there (yellow flags or red/white reflectors stapled to trees.) Follow these markers through the woods for a few hundred meters until the path hits the road. Turn LEFT onto the road and go down the hill to where the road turns left. At the turn there is a stream to the right, or streambed depending on the water level, with the trail continuing on along the left side of the steam. The trail is fairly well marked and packed down. After a few km, the trail becomes fairly steep and starts heading south-west towards the south face of the volcano. You’ll see the antennas slightly Southwest of you. Once the path becomes steep and you start climbing up ash/sand, the path may not be too well marked, but just keep heading up the hill and towards the south side of the volcano towards the saddle between the antennas and the peak. Once you get over the ash field, you’ll be able to see the trail fairly easily. From there to the summit is very well marked, and skirts around the volcano towards the west facing side. There’s some scrambling on rocks but nothing technical – our dog joined us and had no problems navigating up the rocks.
Other useful information:
Ciudad Guzman has a National Parks office that has a map for 40 pesos. It’s located here
Nevado de Colima Tours (owner Gerard) organizes guided trips up the mountain – very useful if you need transportation to the park.
Summit: N19° 33.800′ W103° 36.500′
Trailhead: N19° 34.990′ W103° 36.073′
Parks Office: N19° 42.092′ W103° 27.873′