Hiking in the Ensenada hills “Los Attenuatas”

With the promise of an evening/night hike in the hills outside of Ensenada I was hooked. Only issues; it was quite a distance from the marina and to get there you had to drive through one of the roughest neighborhoods in Ensenada. Oh yeah, and the other little thing – roads damaged by the recent rains…

Google maps claims it is only 17km and 37 minutes from Cruiseport Marina – in reality it is close to an hour. But that does include my one wrong turn (*thanks to Google) that could have ended horribly…

The hike is hosted on the second Saturday each month (there is also a morning hike the second Sunday of each month), and starts a Rancho Sandoval.

Technically this could be handled with a car (there were a few cars that other hikers drove) but for me a truck is necessary. Lots of pot holes and trenches to cross that would push a car to its limits and possibly beyond. My wrong turn was in Calafia, where I was directed to leave the main road and turn down a steep dirt road – this was a big mistake. Huge trenches carved by the recent rains left me stressed, sweating, and thankful once I managed to power (gun it hard) over two 18 inch deep and 18 inch wide trenches with more regard to not getting stuck rather than protecting the vehicle.

I was about 20 minutes early and a few cars were parked outside of the gate at Rancho Sandoval. Not to worry, at least after checking with someone else waiting, around 3:50 someone pulled up to unlock the gate and let everyone inside. Once inside there was a bathroom and everyone started getting set up for the hike. Water, snacks, a walking stick, and a head lamp were all recommended. Around 4:15 the group gathered up for instructions, there were small dogs, young kids, as well as a number of more serious looking athletic folks. A quick group photo and we were off!

Start of the hike up a jeep trail

After passing a swimming pool, soccer field a second field under construction we branched off onto a single track trail. Just me and 98 Mexican hikers (I was the only gringo).

Trail was steep and partially washed out

View of the valley opposite of Ensenada

First view of Ensenada and the marina

At a cabin that was close to the top, the group stopped to enjoy the sunset view and a snack. Unfortunately someone started a fire in the cabin and the center of the first floor and second floor were destroyed, still with careful walking around the edge of the cabin the deck could be reached.

Cabin close to the top

Sunset view from the cabin’s deck

After letting most of the group reached the cabin, we were off up a bit higher where we took another group picture and waited for everyone. Once the crew was assembled it was time to pull out the head lamps and start for the cars. Going back was a different route all on narrow tree lined trails.

One of the highlights of the trip is crossing a swinging bridge. Limited to 5 people at a time, which made a lot of sense given how bouncy it was with 5 people, it took quite some time to get everyone to the other side.

Swinging bridge

The group spread out after the bridge and I stuck close to the guy carrying the music. I mean really, it wouldn’t be Mexico without someone blasting the tunes. And what an eclectic mix it was…

View of night time in Ensenada

A spread out group on the decent

The hike ended about three hours and twenty minutes after leaving the parking lot. All told it was about 7km in length. Everyone made it, I believe, and were safely guided by the three group leaders to took a lot of care to ensure everyone was keeping up. Cars lined up to get out of the locked gate where 10 pesos per person was collected. The drive back to the marina was caravan style with none of the excitement of the drive up. It was a really nice hike with friendly people with great views of the valley.

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