Monterrey is the place to be in Mexico is you love hiking, walking and generally just scaling really tall shit, because it’s pretty much hemmed in on all sides by mountain ranges. While the Cerro de la Silla is easily the most iconic of all the mountains in Monterrey, sprawling Chipinque (a.k.a. Parque Ecológico Chipinque) is more than worth a visit and makes for the ideal day or half-day trip from Monterrey…depending just how much walking you fancy doing of course. Here’s everything you need to know about planning a visit to Chipinque, Monterrey, Nuevo León including how to get there, what to take with you and, of course, everything to see and do.
There are tons of reasons to visit Chipinque, Monterrey – here are just a few.
You’ll feel removed from the chaos of Monterrey
The Parque Ecológico Chipinque is smack dab in the middle of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range and falls within the Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey (which also encompasses the aforementioned Cerro de la Silla). This makes at once entirely regio, and yet completely removed from the chaos of the city that lies below. Honestly, when I visited it felt like stepping into another world, one that was far prettier and much less polluted than Monterrey’s city centre.
It’s super cheap and close to the city centre
Entrance costs just MXN$20 per person if you’re entering on foot, MXN$45 if you want to cycle. If you want to drive in (which many people seem to do) it will cost you MXN$60 to park your car at the Visitor Centre entrance, and MXN$110 to go straight to the Meseta.
Plus, you’re only around 20 minutes from the city centre by car, and maybe an hour by public transport.
It’s full of wildlife
From black bears to butterflies, there’s plenty to see for wildlife lovers in Chipinque. We saw some fuzzy caterpillars when we went (the kind that probably kill you if you so much as think about touching them, but don’t quote me on that) but sadly there were no (real) bear sightings for us.
It’s so much cooler than the rest of Monterrey
I’m talking cooler in the climate sense of the word, but yeah, I guess it’s also a pretty cool place to hang out, metaphorically speaking. According to the official website, the average temperature in Chipinque is around 21 degrees, which, is MUCH more bearable than the 40-something degree heat that leaves you with total inertia for like four months of the year in Monterrey.
For the bragging rights
You can tell everyone you climbed a mountain, even if you just walked for an hour and then hung out at the Mirador for a bit (totally not what we did, of course). Incidentally, this is also the technique I applied when I went to the Nevado de Toluca and drove right to the top before walking for maybe half an hour and claiming I’d conquered the world. You do you.
I mean, duh, that’s the whole reason you go there. Plus, there are tons of routes you can pick and choose from when you’re there (we took the ‘main’ route, which you can see on the map at the bottom of this post), and they’re ideal for whatever age and skill level.
If you’re feeling really ambitious, there is the option to scale the 2,200 metres above sea level peak of the Ecological Park. We didn’t obviously, but it’s good to know the options there, although, for safety reasons, you must alert park authorities if you’re planning on doing actual climbing and not just hiking.
I’m not a fan of cycling – mainly because I don’t take enjoyment from almost immediate chafing – but there is the option to try out some of the cycle routes available at Chipinque. The website tells me there are 60km worth of trails, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied if Lycra-clad outdoor adventure is your thang.
Chipinque, like many urban or green areas across Mexico, is home to some slightly terrifying looking gym equipment that could have come straight from Soviet Russia. If I’m already outdoors and walking, I’m not about to start actually exercising too. However, if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, it certainly works out far cheaper and more picturesque to work out in Chipinque than to get a gym membership.
Monterrey is not typically a photogenic city. I mean, the barrio antiguo is super pretty, but the city centre can be somewhat barren if you like historic buildings and colourful street art. That’s why if you’re a photography fan, or even just an amateur Instagrammer like me, you should consider paying a visit to Chipinque. The views over the city and surrounding hills on the hike up are gorgeous and when you get to Mirador La Peñita (see map below), there’s a designated photo spot where you can get some good snaps for your social media. Sure, it’s super crowded (because my god do Mexicans love a good selfie session and photo opportunity), but it’s worth hanging around ‘til the crowds disperse to get it all to yourself.
Look for wildlife
Chipinque Park is home to everything from black bears to butterflies, and even some surprisingly brave squirrels. There are also several species of birds, a breed of wild cat that looks disconcertingly like a chubby house tabby (it’s actually a lynx), as well as pumas, coyotes and grey foxes. You might even catch a glimpse of the excellent, native to Mexico coati, a raccoon-esque creature with a stripy tail, or a deer. Be on the lookout for the (non-venomous) black snakes though.
If you do see black bears, don’t try and get close to them. Just stay still and wait for them to pass you by or retreat slowly.
See the creepy crawlies
Chipinque has plenty to keep young children occupied, from their mariposario (butterfly house) to the insectario (insect house) and both are free to enter. We didn’t go in, but I’m sure they make for an interesting 15 minutes of exploration.
I had no idea, but there’s apparently a hotel in Chipinque, known rather imaginatively as Hotel Chipinque. So, if you want to stay overnight then this cozy spot is the place to check out.
Have a picnic
Ruels state that lighting fires is prohibited, so the option to have a good old Monterrey carne asada is pretty much out, but you can definitely still lug a coolbox of food to the Meseta and have lunch. We saw tons of families up there just hanging out and eating, before piling back in their car at the first spot of rain and driving home.
One of the highlights of my visit (don’t judge) was a pair of walkers who were coming down as we were going up, one of whom made an offhand comment about ‘next time we should bring water…’ Like, yeah, no shit Sherlock! You’re going walking, hiking, running, whatever…take a bottle of water with you. Also, you’re in Monterrey, one of the most painfully hot places in Mexico if you’re there in the height of summer, so water should be a must-have accessory during your trip even if you’re not climbing a mountain.
However, if you do run dry during your visit, we did spot a few water fountains at various points on the route so you could top up your bottle if need be.
We saw some comically inappropriate outfits from people trying to climb up to the Meseta at Chipinque, from elderly women with walking sticks to those who were carrying handbags. I guess this all comes from it being a popular city centre escape for everyone and not just the committed hikers and fitness freaks.
But really, dress appropriately – leggings, trainers, a light t-shirt and maybe a thin jacket with a hood in case it rains.
It should go without saying, but wear shoes with good grip too. Yes, mainly because you’re hiking and don’t want to sprain an ankle due to slipping awkwardly, but also because you don’t want to have to live down the undying shame of falling over and getting covered in mud. We’ve all been there.
It’s not just the deceptively muddy sections that will trip you up though (ba bum tsh), but also the slippery wooden stairs/ platforms that are dotted across various points on the route(s). We nearly came a cropper to them at times, although only after it started to (lightly) rain.
Carry cash (although a card will do)
There’s a small café right near the entrance that takes both cash and card (thank god, because we didn’t have a peso between us and I needed a coffee), so if you want to grab a quick drink or snack before or after your ascent then you’ll need some money on you in some form or another. However, if you want to buy something during the walk (we spotted a vendor or two selling fizzy drinks) you’ll need loose change.
Prepare for rain (and sun)
Notoriously temperamental, the weather in Monterrey is not to be trusted and is liable to change at the drop of a hat. Freezing in winter and baking in summer, it’s also partial to throwing in a rainstorm (surprise!) every now and again to keep you on your toes.
We went wearing jeans/ shorts and t-shirts, and actually found the light light rain that started on our way down to be actually quite refreshing, but take a jacket with a hood if you’re averse to getting your hair wet and don’t mind a slightly sweatier climb.
Come rain or shine, definitely slap on that sunblock though and take a pair of sunglasses just in case.
Go early or late, but never at midday
This kind of ties in to the previous point about the horrendous beating sun that plagues Monterrey for most of the year (except in winter when you literally need three layers just to leave the house). But anyway, if you’re wondering when to go to Chipinque, the answer is either really early, when the climate is decidedly cooler and you can make a full day of it, or really late in the afternoon – think 3/4pm time. This is when we went and while I thought we’d be the only ones entering, there were plenty of locals just starting their walk up to the Meseta (which is kind of the place to be). Just be aware that the park itself closes at 7.30pm and the admin offices close at 6pm.
Parque Ecológico Chipinque is open 365 days a year from 6am to 8pm and if you’re wondering how to get to Chipinque, then there are several options available.
We took an Uber from the city centre which took around 20 minutes and cost us less than MXN$100, saving us the steep and windy walk up to the actual entrance in the process. I definitely recommend this transport option if you’re pressed for time or just can’t be arsed with an extra pre-hike walk.
Be veeeery careful what you enter as your destination though – if you just type in Parque Chipinque it’s likely to drop your pin on the actual peak of the mountain, which is, err, going to set you back more money than you expected. Instead, make sure the pin is positioned over the entrance to the park.
The official website claims that the easiest public transport route involves buses and taxis. You should take the Route 130 bus, getting off in San Pedro and then take a taxi. I just think you should download the Moovit app and search for the best route on there.
Again, the Chipinque website states that you should locate ‘Los Tubos’, at the Vasconcelos and Gómez Morín intersection, San Pedro and drive south down Gómez Morín until you reach the park. Honestly though, it’s pretty well signposted so it shouldn’t be too tricky to find, but if you want some extra help I recommend downloading Waze.