Hiking at Lakeside!

Things to Know.

Be Prepared


Hiking Pole


First Aid

Hiking in the mountains above Lake Chapala is always an adventure.  Whether you are out for a leisurely walk up to the shrine, a shorter hike with multiple step ups to the waterfall or a longer physical hike to Chupinaya you won’t be disappointed.  Hiking in the mountains begins only a few blocks away from the main street in Ajijic where you will find yourself planted almost magically in the midst of the forest.  The sounds of the traffic slowly disappear and the sights, scents and the sounds of the forest envelop you.

Hiking here is beautiful and rewarding, and it is also very serious business.  You will be in the wilderness quickly without any assistance.  There are no park rangers or guides, and often there is no signal available for cell phones.  Be serious about your time in the mountains and plan seriously regardless of how long you are planning to hike.


How long is the hike.

Basic Gear


What to bring in your pack.

Thinking about hiking while in Ajijic?

If you have just arrived, or haven’t done much physical activity, we recommend easing into things by walking for an hour a few times a week along the Malecon or the Ciclopista. Then gradually incorporate some hill walking, perhaps by starting at the lakeshore and walking up any of the north/south streets as far as the street goes. You should be able to do this at a reasonable pace (under 30 minutes) while carrying on a conversation. It is important to do this on a regular basis until it no longer feels like an effort. Once you have achieved that you are ready for the Chapel trail.  The Chapel trail consists of a series of switchbacks, so it is a gradual ascent.

There are no hand-over-hand or scrambling sections on this trail as far as the Chapel. The Chapel trail can be accessed from a number of points in upper Ajijic. The traditional trailhead on the west side is either at the top of Juarez or Colon streets. Starting the trail here will take you past the Stations of the Cross on the way to the Chapel.  Alternatively, you can start on the east side at the trailhead at the top of Galeana Street. You will follow alongside a concrete water run-off ditch. Just a few minutes up from the trailhead, be sure to bear left at the fork. This trail intersects with the west trail at about the eighth station of the cross. Find a pace that feels comfortable and stop for a rest.

Don't Be Fooled

by the terms
“novice” or “short” hike.

When you arrive at the Chapel, take a short break before retracing your steps down to the trailhead. You will notice that the trail continues ascending beyond the Chapel, but it becomes much steeper.  Save that for later exploration. Like most of the trails in the area, it can be “slippery” due to wet rocks from rain or loose gravel.   In the dry season, from about mid-October until mid-June it’s particularly slippery, like ball bearings on a hard surface. There may also be areas of fist-size rocks, which makes it easy to twist an ankle. Once you are comfortable doing the Chapel trail and can make the round trip in about 45 minutes, you should be ready to join the group on either Tuesday or Friday for the “short” hike to the Tepalo Waterfall.  This trail is dry between approximately mid-October and July when there is insufficient run-off water.  This hike is for “novice” hikers or for those who don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a longer hike that day.  Do not let the term “short” or “novice” hike fool you.  The hike to the Tepalo waterfall is a tough hike that incorporates elevation gain, some hand over hand climbing over large boulders and finally climbing up to the waterfall.  However, it is done at a slower pace which makes it a bit easier because of the pace and rest stops.  After becoming comfortable with the distance, elevation gain, and pace, you can gradually build up to hiking on some of the other organized hikes.

Hiking Descriptions

Many have asked about a definition of the various Categories and Hike Levels. The main thing to know is that the determination of Categories and Levels is highly subjective and definitely subject to interpretation. That being said, we’ll give it our best shot…


Short Hike

Time: 2 – 2.5 hours

Pace: Relaxed, frequent rests.

Distance: 3 – 5 kilometres

Elevation Gain: 500- 1000 feet

Location: Local hikes.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate depending on route and terrain.  Some challenging step-ups over large boulders and negotiating rock faces. Slippery in the dry season.

To Bring On The Short Hike.

Liquids: 1 litre minimum of water and or electrolytes combined.

Food: Light snack

Gear: Backpack, hiking boots, hat, hiking stick, first aid, personal medicines, sunscreen.

Other: Health information and emergency contact sheet.  Cell phone.


Intermediate Hike

Time: 3 – 4 hours.

Pace:  Moderate pace with a short rest.

Distance: 5 – 10 kilometres

Elevation Gain: 1000 – 2000 feet

Location: Local and travelling hikes.

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging.  Some long and steep ascents with some hand over hand and step-ups.  Slippery in the dry season on the descent.

What to Bring.

Liquids: 2 litres minimum of water and or electrolytes.

Food: Light snack or light lunch

Gear: Backpack, hiking boots, hat, hiking stick, first aid, personal medicines, and sunscreen.

Other: Health information and emergency contact sheet.  Cell phone.


Long Hike

Time:  4 -8 hours Local and travelling.

Pace:  Faster pace and a short rest.

Distance:  10 – 17 kilometres.

Elevation Gain:  2000 – 4000 feet.

Location: Local and travelling.

Difficulty: Challenging to difficult.  Long hikes with steep ascents and descents. Challenging terrain and meant for those who have worked through the easier hikes.

To Bring On The Long Hike

Liquids: 2 1/2 – 3 litres water and electrolytes combined.

Food: Light lunch and snack.

Gear: Backpack, hiking boots, hat, hiking stick, first aid, personal medicines, sunscreen. Money for beverages after the hike (optional), and for transportation back to Ajijic (via bus or contribution to the driver for gas).

Other:        Health information and emergency contact sheet.  Cell phone.

Hiking Categories

Think of the way hurricanes are rated. We follow the same guidelines and apply it to our hikes.

Category 1

Bearable for most with some preparation required.

Category 2

Not too bad.  Definitely a step up from Category 1. It’ll test structures that may not be signed for hurricane force winds.  Hang tight and you’ll make it through.

Category 3

Better start boarding up the windows and laying in some extra food supplies. This could be a tough one. Expect that it may take a while to recover.

Category 4

Some look at a Category 4 as pretty devastating, but survivable. Get prepared to ride it out and celebrate survival.

Category 5

Get prepared well in advance. Plan a good escape route. Hang on for dear life and stay focused on survival.

Cruz Roja Ambulance/Rescue Dispatch Tel: 376 765 2308

The Dispatcher at the clinic can arrange mountain rescues, with a hiker giving instruction to the trailhead location and guiding them to the rescue scene. The Cruz Roja Clinic has a stocked truck kept there specifically for rescues, with lock boxes in it with all the ropes, ladders, and other rescue equipment. They will rescue first even if payment is not available at the time, BUT THEY DO REQUIRE PAYMENT AFTER THE RESCUE.

Where and When We Meet

We meet at the 3 Nations Plaza across from Min Wah Chinese Restaurant.

Tuesdays and Fridays

8 am and 8:45 am

Depending on the hike you will be taking. See our hiking schedule on Facebook or subscribe to our email list.

Your Source for Hiking in Ajijic.

Google map showing where the Ajijic Hiking Group meets before hikes.

See you on the trail.

Button with contact information for the Cruz Roja emergency task force for hikers.

The Ajijic Hiking Group and it's members are Not Responsible for anything that happens while hiking.