Nevado de Toluca

Traverse of the crest of the fourth-highest mountain in Mexico with a view of two crater lakes

Crater of the Nevado de Toluca with Laguna del Sol and Laguna de la Luna
Crater of the Nevado de Toluca

The volcano Nevado de Toluca (4704 m) has two beautiful lakes in its crater, separated by a lava dome. A sharp crest with the highest peaks surrounds the crater in a crescent shape. Next to it, separated by a pass, is a less rugged peak; and the last segment of the crater rim is about the same level as the lakes. Actually, the gravel road leads here all the way into the crater, but you are only allowed to drive as far as the meteorological station, about 150 metres in altitude below the pass.

Popocatépetl from Nevado de Toluca
Popocatépetl from Nevado de Toluca

From the car park I hike over the pass to the smaller Laguna de la Luna and back at dusk to acclimatise, before spending a very cold night in the rental car.

Pico del Águila
Pico del Águila

Probably the most beautiful route to the main summit leads from the pass along the crest over various secondary peaks: a beautiful traverse with some easy scrambling now and then (at the end of November, the “Nevado” is just free of snow). It takes me about 2 h to the second highest, Pico del Águila, and a little more than 1 h to continue to the highest summit, Pico del Fraile.

Nevado de Toluca, view from the main peak
Nevado de Toluca, view from the main peak

The continuation down the ridge would involve climbing. I take the easy way: back to the next saddle and then through steep gravel more sliding than walking in a direct line to the Laguna del Sol. This is more or less the main trail and two groups come towards me. I feel sorry for all of them who are digging their way up this way instead of the only slightly longer but much more pleasant route over the crest. Not to mention the good views.

Laguna del Sol in the crater of Nevado de Toluca
Laguna del Sol in the crater of Nevado de Toluca, main summit in the background

In the crater simply along the lake shore and then over the pass to the car (where I meet busloads of weekenders). I spend the rest of the day in the car on the way to Iztaccíhuatl.


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