Hiking in the Hills Above Real de Catorce

In September 2015, I spent a week in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi.  I visited the city of San Luis Potosi as well as the small mountain town of Real de Catorce.  Real became an important mining area in the late 1700s, and remained so until the 1900s, when the price of silver dropped and the mines began playing out.  Much of the town was abandoned, or so the story goes, but the town has undergone a revival in the last couple of decades.  I spent four days in Real, and one of the highlights for me was several walks in the hills above town.

Real sits at an altitude of around 9,000 feet (2740m), nestled between higher hills.  Outside of town, one can quickly climb to an altitude of over 10,000 feet.  The views are breathtaking, and this high “altiplano” was in full bloom when I visited.  Succulents were interspersed with plants such as salvia, there were hummingbirds zooming around feeding on the flowers, interesting squirrels hopping about, and lizards everywhere.

Here’s a map of one of the best hikes.  It starts in town, headed due east.  You’ll climb quite quickly (the zig zags in yellow), reaching a beautiful overlook.  Then, headed back further into the hills, you hit a couple of ghost towns that have interesting ruins to explore.  Circling around one, you climb to some higher ridges, where you can see even more, before winding your way back the way you came.

Route of a hike around Real de Catorce
Route of a hike above Real de Catorce

 

As you start climbing up, you can look back on a nice view of Real:

Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce

 

Higher up, you start getting views of the entire town:

Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce

 

Eventually, you can see the whole town nestled between the hills:

Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce
Real de Catorce

 

Heading east, you begin to run into more ruins from an older mine town.  We would call this a ghost town, in Spanish, it is a “pueblo fantasma”:

Ghost town above Real de Catorce
Ghost town above Real de Catorce

 

In this area, I saw many squirrels:

Squirrel near Real de Catorce
Squirrel near Real de Catorce

 

Climbing higher up, I came around the back of the ghost town:

Ghost town above Real de Catorce
Ghost town above Real de Catorce

 

The high ridges up here were full of interesting succulents:

Succulents near Real de Catorce
Succulents near Real de Catorce
Succulents near Real de Catorce
Succulents near Real de Catorce
Succulents near Real de Catorce
Succulents near Real de Catorce

 

Following a path along one of the ridges:

Path above Real de Catorce
Path above Real de Catorce
Path above Real de Catorce
Path above Real de Catorce

 

I kept seeing these small lizards, this one stood still long enough for a photo:

Lizard above Real de Catorce
Lizard above Real de Catorce

 

Here are a couple of panoramas from above Real de Catorce:

Panorama from hills above Real de Catorce
Panorama from hills above Real de Catorce
Panorama from hills above Real de Catorce
Panorama from hills above Real de Catorce

 

Over the course of the four days, I hiked in this area several times.  These hikes were truly wonderful.  It was incredibly beautiful and also very quiet up in the hills.  I saw few other people, perhaps a couple of tours on horseback, and a few goat herders.  I was expecting to struggle more with the altitude, but found that it had no effect on me.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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