The Cerro de la Calavera (Skull Hill) is an unmissable hiking trail and sunset spot in La Paz, with a twist! 💀
If you’re familiar with La Paz, then you know its wide, flat streets stretch for miles and miles, at least until they reach the cactus-covered hills or the turquoise sea.
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In other words, there aren’t many hikes near La Paz that are, say, at your toe-tips. The city is fairly spread out and large; even walking the seaside boardwalk from one end to the other will take 30+ minutes.
But as an outdoorsy digital nomad in La Paz, I searched for, and found, possibly the best hike near the city of La Paz (without having to drive) — the Cerro de la Calavera or “Skull Hill”!
PS — Very few tourists who visit La Paz know of this hike. It remains quite local, so if you’re looking for an off-beat and fun local thing to do in La Paz, check this short and sweet trail out. (Epic views await at the top!)
Here’s what to know about climbing up to the Cerro de la Calavera in La Paz, BCS. 🌵
Cerro de la Calavera Hike in La Paz, BCS
Why the Name “Cerro de la Calavera”?
At the northern end of the La Paz Malecón, just beyond the Marina Palmira, towers an interesting-looking hill.
If you look closely, this hill has a few archways and holes, which make for an incredibly scenic and interesting place to visit.
This hill is called the Cerro de la Calavera, named after a local legend that recounts the story of the daughter of an indigenous chief who was promised to one man but fell in love with another.
According to the story, after a scuffle between the two men at the top of the hill, they took a tumble over the edge. With immense grief and fear of retribution from her tribe, the girl threw herself off the cliff to join the men in their fate.
The legend is that since that day, this hill took the form of three skulls.
Creepy? Ehh… I’ll let you decide! Maybe just avoid hiking this trail if you’re in a love triangle? 😬
Cerro de la Calavera Trail Details
📍 Trailhead: Location here
🥾 Distance: Varies depending on which route you take (read more below)
☀️ Best time to go: One hour before sunset
🏃♀️ Difficulty: Easy-Moderate
Before you head out, know that there are several routes you can take to reach the archways.
The most direct and shortest way is to go straight up the hillside.
The trail to reach the archways on this hillside is up a somewhat steep, rocky path. Watch your step, as there are fire ants, loose rocks, and prickly cacti.
If you keep going up this footpath past the skulls, or follow the gravel road that winds around the back of the hill, you’ll reach the top of the hill where there is a pink ribbon and a large wooden cross.
I believe this is the trail that’s marked on AllTrails which indicates a much longer route that arrives at the top from the backside (3.8km).
Either way, the archways of Cerro de la Calavera actually sit below the top of the hill.
We found it easiest to scurry up the loose/rocky footpath straight up the hillside to the archways for sunset. Then, for the way down, walk down the backside of the hill via the gravel/rocky winding road.
Once at the archways, there are lots of cool places to sit and enjoy a picnic/beer as you watch the sunset over the capital of BCS and the beautiful Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California.
The views and light, especially at sunset, are amazing!
What to Know Before Hiking Cerro de la Calavera
Before heading out on this sweet little hike, here are a few things to keep in mind!
- 🌿 Leave No Trace: Please pick up your trash and pack it out with you. Avoid trampling flora off-path, and please don’t carve into the rocks or deface them.
- ☀️ No shade: The trail is in full sunshine, so avoid going at midday because it gets extremely hot!
- 💦 Bring water: Whether you take the short or long route, always carry enough water with you.
- 👟 Wear closed shoes: There are prickly cacti and fire ants on the hillside trail, plus loose rocks. Wear stable footwear to avoid slipping or injuries!
- 🚨 Safety: The hike is popular among locals so you’re likely to be hiking around other people and safe. That said, at times, we’ve found very few people on the trail which can be dangerous if you fall or go alone. Don’t hike alone, and don’t go after nightfall.
- 🚙 Parking: I recommend walking along the seaside promenade to reach the trailhead. It takes around 30 minutes to get there. If you drive, there’s parking on the right side of the road at the trailhead, just past the gas station.
So there you have it!
Hiking Cerro de la Calavera for sunset is arguably one of the best things to do in La Paz — don’t miss out!
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If you have any questions or tips to add about this hike, drop a comment below!