Medellín is surrounded by gorgeous mountains that offer numerous great opportunities for hiking. The combination of lush and verdant forests, mild climate and the ease of access allow avid hikers to experience a variety of different great hiking adventures in the city and surrounding area.
Whether you are interested in conquering some extremely challenging terrains or you are looking for some beginner friendly trails, La Valle de Aburrá provides many opportunities for an enjoyable hiking experience.
Here’s a list of 5 of some of the best day hikes near Medellin:
1) Cerro Bravo
The lush Cerro Bravo is situated between two Colombian towns, Fredonia and Venecia. One cool aspect of the Cerro Bravo day hike is it provides the opportunity to see both of these towns. Hikers can start in Venecia and finish in Fredonia, or vice versa. Our group took a bus from the Terminal del Sur bus station in Medellín, and arrived two hours later in Parque Venecia. The route towards the mountain starts near this Parque, and to get pointed in the right direction you can ask one of the friendly locals sipping tinto in the park. Unlike many other hikes, the Cerro Bravo trail actually has a few signs on it, so you’ll be able to confirm that you’re headed in the right direction.
The hike is a long one, and unless you are moving really quickly it’ll probably take about six hours. Most of this time is spent walking along relatively flat trails, but there is a difficult one hour push up to the summit. The hike is moderately difficult overall but it is certainly worth it to make the summit, as it leads to totally mesmerizing views of the southwest Antioquia region. It makes for a very long day, however, given the bus ride involved each way. Be sure to leave the entire day open – but you’ll be glad you did – the it is a wonderful day hike.
2) Cerro de Las Tres Cruces
If you don’t have the entire day to spare, a different hike you could try is Cerro de Las Tres Cruces, which is located in the Belén neighborhood. Belén is huge, and the trailhead isn’t easily reached through public transport, so for this one it’s probably best to take taxi or Uber to arrive. Be careful when ordering Uber, as one of the destinations that will pop up will have your route going all the way to the top of the hill. Type “Cerro de Las Tres Cruces“, and ensure that the address says Calle 18, which is where the trailhead is.
Especially when compared to Cerro Bravo, this hike is quite easy and within ten or fifteen minutes, you’ll start to see very impressive views of the city. On a clear day, you can see the vast majority of La Valle de Aburrá and watch as airplanes land in the municipal airport.
If you go on a weekend, there will be many others on the trail with you. Along the way, you’ll see a variety of entrepreneurial Colombians selling water and fruit. At the top, there is a larger store with smoothies and some work out equipment.
Most people will opt to return down the same trail, but if you have a little extra time to spare and are feeling adventurous, you can take a separate way down the west side of the mountain. From the very top of the hill, just beyond where the outdoor exercise equipment is located, you’ll see a trail that heads in the opposite direction of where you came up. To get back to civilization on this path takes about 1.5x as long, but it is a nice variation because it winds into a different Belén barrio. The path soon turns into a road that winds its way back into the city. There are a number of restaurants with lookout points along this alternative path.
3) Cerro Quitasol
Translated as ‘sun-removing mountain’, Cerro Quitsaol may have derived this nickname because its giant stature often blocks the sun for the residents of the city of Bello, at the very north end of the Valle de la Aburrá. Unlike the previous two hikes, this day hike can be reached via the Metro system, as to start, you take the metro to the end of the line north and get off at Estacion Niquia. From there, head due north (there are signs inside the Niquia Metro Station that will point you in the right direction), and you will find a stair path that goes through neighborhoods as it meanders up and out of the city.
The path continues up relentlessly, and by the end you will have climbed over 1200 meters. Difficulty level for this hike is definitely on the high side, so be sure to be in adequate shape to attempt it. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking and makes the uphill grind totally worth it.
After taking in the views for as long as you desire, look for a different trailhead to the east to descend down. Don’t go down the same way you came back up! – there is a shaded route that weaves through some pine forests and has an ancient stone path, all of which combine to make it a more interesting descent. Eventually you’ll find yourself back into a neighborhood in Bello where you can find a local restaurant for a well deserved meal.
4) El Salado
If you are looking for a relatively easy hike, then Parque El Salado, located up in the hills of Envigado, is a great choice. The sprawling park features several trails for hiking that lead to lookout points offering a beautiful view of the city. You will also find an abundance of streams meandering around Parque El Salado, perfect for getting your feet wet on a hot day. To arrive at Parque El Salado, take a bus or taxi from Envigado Metro Station.
Also located in the municipality of Envigado, Arenales is a beautiful nature area located high in the hills. To arrive, exit the Envigado Metro Station and look for one of the transit workers. Ask them where to stand to catch the buses to Arenales (pronounced like ‘a-ray-nah-less’), and you’ll be soon twisting your way up the hills of Envigado. What’s nice about going to Arenales is the bus does 80% of the elevation for you, and by the time you get off the bus, the views are already spectacular. After getting off the bus, you should look for a sign to enter the nature area, and it is quite simple to follow the trails towards the waterfall.
This hike is moderately challenging, and will take two to four hours to complete. Readers should be aware that you must cross a river many times during the hike, and it is a near foregone conclusion that your feet will get soaked. In fact, I have done this hike during rainy season, and for much of it we were wading through thigh-high waters to get to the end. It’s worth it to continue, however, as the Chorro de la Campaña waterfall is really nice and has a little swimming area at its base.
Have you done any of these hikes? Do you have some other gems that we should add to the list? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
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