Hiking Sierra de La Laguna – Baja Mexico

Not a hike…but an almost lost expedition!

Three of us were sea kayaking Baja from Bahia Conception to Loreto in 1994 on a 10 day independent journey. When we finished, we were still up for more adventuring in Baja. Hiking Sierra de La Laguna turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime.

We had heard rumors about a trail going all the way across the Baja Peninsula through the rugged Sierra de La Laguna Range. The route was publicized so hikers could visit the newly created La Laguna Biosphere Park in the high mountains.

What could be more fun than an exploratory hike!

We had our Ford Econoline Van filled to capacity with camping, hiking, biking and kayaking gear. A grocery stop in Loreto refilled our larder. We could take advantage of any whim!

Our research in Loreto led us to the starting point at San Dionisio, a tiny Rancho inland from the town of Santiago.

We did not have a GPS. We had only compass and a paper map that was pretty useless. We do not have a record of the route we actually followed.

We have since found a downloadable GPS route, but we have not used it and have no idea if it will aid an independent traveler or not.

See a map of the correct route as portrayed by http://www.summitpost.org/sierra-de-la-laguna/563612

We also researched the web and have found businesses that will guide you across, feed you, and provide burros to carry your gear. It is interesting to note, that even these commercial trips list the trek as strenuous.


No one else would be crazy enough to want to do what we did anyway!


We trekked two nights and three very long days across.



It was not a hike; we were doing what the Conquistadors did hundreds of years past…exploring Baja.



But we were’t looking for Gold. “La Laguna…La Laguna” became our chant as we searched for what we were beginning to think was a fable.






Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

Day 1

We hired a guide at Rancho Dionisio. He had no idea if or where there was a route, but he certainly led us to believe he did. He was going to guide us to La Laguna as we had heard the route was quite difficult to find. From La Laguna, we could find our own way as a marked trail descended to Todos Santos.




The trail started off innocently enough as it followed the flat and sandy terrain of Canyon San Dionisio.  For a while we thought we could dispense with our guide.





Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

Then we left the broad, flat canyon. Our guide led us straight up through the brush and rocks. We were bouldering with heavy packs.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna became an expedition through a jumble of canyons, precipitous cliffs, and thorny vegetation.

When we finally reached a clearing of sorts, he went back home. He pointed us west…across an endless expanse of deep arroyos. “La Laguna is that way,” he said.

Our water was spent; we dug in the ground to find what we could. By nightfall, we had no cooking water, so we ate granola bars.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna - Baja Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

Notice all the photos are vertical.


The terrain was so steep, we could only capture feet and head in a vertical frame.


Our guide was only carrying water in a day pack.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

Day 2

The next day, we hiked across those endless arroyos, staying as high as we could to avoid descending and ascending over and over again.

La Laguna, La Laguna,” we chanted as our vague map and compass heading coaxed us onward.


Occasionally we came upon a forest of monstrous trees that provided shade and respite from the intense heat.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

We climbed higher, pushing the brush aside like bulldozers. An opening afforded a grand view of Cerro Las Casitas (6,818″) across a deep canyon. The sighting was reassuring as La Laguna rested in a huge, natural depression between Las Casitas and Picacho Peak (7,090′).

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico
Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

We staggered into the oasis of La Laguna just before dark.

Having once held a large lake, the depression was now a rich grassland.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

With filterable ground water available, we ate a cooked meal.

It was very cold that night. We were only 5600 feet high.

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna

Day 3

A big trail, actually a gravel road much of the way, went from La Laguna to Todos Santos on the Pacific.

Obviously, this was the route any sane tourist would have taken to visit the Biosphere Park.


It was a drop in elevation of that 5600 feet where La Laguna depression rested.


Some commercial trips hike up the road to La Laguna and return the same way.


That would be missing all the fun!

Hiking Sierra de La Laguna Mexico

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