Why you should go to the Sierra Gorda in your next trip to Mexico!
Mexico it’s known for beautiful white beaches and amazing pyramids. But actually it has almost all kind of climates, going from tropical to alpine.
Mexico is also famous among hikers because of its beautiful trails running next to rivers and majestic mountains. The famous American rocky mountains actually start here, more precisely in the Sierra Gorda in Querétaro, only 2 hours north from Mexico city by car or bus.
My family owns a house in a little town in this state, but I never thought about going to the mountains, somehow they seem quite far and not as attractive. It was only until my father told me that the start point of the north American mountain chain is here, that they became an attraction for me.
The trip started in the magic town of Tequisquiapan, we drove north in the direction of Jalpan for about 3 and half hours. The first 2 hours of the trip the landscape was only desert and lime stone, until we got to the mountains, where the roads became serpentines and the landscape was full with pines and Mexican maple trees. Then we arrived to the highest town on the Sierra Gorda (about 2800 mts) named Pinal de Amoles, a traditional mining town. It used to be the main town from the surrounding 110 mines in the mountains until in 1900 when everything moved to Jalpan de Serra, our destination.
After breakfast we went directly to the cottages from Sierra Gorda Eco Tours, in Jalpan de Serra. These cottages are in the natural reserve created by the association in charge of our tour provider and next to a stunning dam. Their main goal is to preserve this paradise and educate people about the different micro-climates in the area through different tours and activities.
The cottages are made of local materials such as clay, palm trees and straw, trying to be as eco-friendly as possible minimizing the carbon-print. They are located in the forest, so you can hear the many different birds of the region and enjoy the thin air of the mountains while having a zip of coffee.
Our Tour started at 6.00 am in the morning, so we had a zip of coffee and met our driver and tour guide don Pancho. Don Pancho is originally from Jalpan but lived 5 years in the U.S. When he came back home, he started working in the natural reserve and later on became a tour guide here. His knowledge of the area is truly impressive, he told us the history of the towns on our way to the different stops.
The natural reserve has a network of small restaurants known as “fondas” that have local food made by traditional recipes and local ingredients. So around 7.30 a.m we went to one of the fondas to get breakfast, gather some energy with a traditional Mexican coffee and made our way to 4 palos.
4 Palos is the place where both climates on the mountains come together: the desert and the pine forrest. On one side you can see the desert and lime stone and on the other the forrest that has the humid air from the sea wind from the gulf of Mexico. It is really impressive and an amazing 20 min hike at 2900 m to the viewing point.
After visiting 4 palos, we went on a 2 hr drive down to the Escanela river. The Escanela river is also the place of silver mines, although they are not open all year around due to permits, you can still get rough silver stones.
The hike is about 1 and half hours next to a crystalline river going down to a majestic waterfall, although the water is about 17° C I recommend you to bring your swimming suit, the weather can be very warm and to swim in the river can be a great refreshment after the hike! It is not a difficult hike and the panorama is extraordinary, it could be out of any place in the Swiss alps.
After the hike by the Escanela river we went to eat to another one of the networks “Fondas” this time it was on the edge of the mountain, giving us stunning views for the late lunch, with delicious food and great company.
On the afternoon we went around the city center of Jalpan and around the dam. The nature in the dam is beautiful and the conservation group have made the best effort to keep the reserve as untouched as possible. You can appreciate the different species that live there from strategic viewing point around it.
The next morning we started our drive back home to Tequisquiapan, only to get some pictures of the sunrise from the Sierra Gorda on a colorful sky.
I hope you got inspired to visit this beautiful part of Mexico, and have a look of what this country has to offer.
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