Here is a brief description I worte for directions to hike to the Cerro. Not sure if you want to add any of it to the description.
Volcán Cerro Quemado (Xela)
This Volcano, a large hill just south of Xela, actually appears as a spine poking out of the left shoulder of Cerro Candelaria, and makes for a great short day hike. From the summit Mayan ceremonies can be heard resonating throughout the nearby peaks. This hike also adds on nicely if planning to summit Cerro Candelaria, and can even be combined with Santa Maria.
It is important to point out that this hike can be done quickly by foot (we got to the top in two hours from Xela’s Parque Central), or even quicker with public transportation. From the Parque Central, walk south (towards the Cristo Vine sign). In a few blocks you won’t be able to walk any further South, take a left and head up hill - on the ‘highway’ towards Almolonga. As soon as you get on the Almolonga ‘highway’ you will be able to differentiate between Cerro Quemado from Cerro Candelaria - look for a rocky outcropping that looks like several craggy fingers sticking up from the ridgeline to the left of the summit of Candelaria.
Alternatively take a bus from Xela towards Almolonga. In either case, you will be on this highway only for about one Kilometer. Then get off the highway and take a road to the right which heads toward the Cerros and also the thermal baths marked on the highway as “Baños Los Vahos” (a fairly well known spot, and a good landmark for this hike). The baths are created from geothermal energy from the still active Volcano and are a good stop on the return from a long hike. After heading up the road for about 200 meters, turn at the sign “Baños los Vahos.” The baths are to the right, the Volcano to the left. Walk up the paved road for about 30 minutes and you will arrive at a community called Chicuá. Directly before the village, and at the sign talking about unauthorized entrance into the village take a right off the road onto an obvious trail paved with stones. 15 minutes up this trail will bring you to a soccer field, and from there several obvious paths lead up to the mulit-summit Volcán Cerro Quemado.
Enjoy time climbing around the craggy summit, and the great views of Xela, but beware the volcanic rock is very unstable. From there either summit Cerro Candelaria, visit the lava hole directly to the South-East, or head back via Baños Los Vahos for some relaxation time.
For more information contact Quetzal Trekkers in Xela
Thanks, I'll definately add it into the description. I appreciate the contribution.
Comments incorporated into the page. Thanks. Hope you don't mind the link to your page.
The traverse from "La Muela," the lower peak where most of the rock climbing is and where most people go to, to the peak of Cerro Candelaria is like nothing I have ever seen. Be prepared for several hours of boulder hopping that really does look like Mordor. Also, be prepared for weather. Could be hot sun, with zero shade, so bring plenty of water. Also, could be 15 degrees Celsius and raining for several hours...
I have climbed Cerro Candelaria twice. First time, not enough water. Second time, only an athletic t-shirt, and I was FREEZING by the time I got back to the road and hitched a ride home.
That said, if prepared, it is incredible terrain, ENJOY!!
Thanks for the comments and the good advice about being prepared for the weather. We have found ourselves unexpectedly locked in a blinding chilling fog that left us groping for directions several times.
I am pretty sure that it is impossible to hike to the actual summit of Cerro Quemado in 2 hours. I spent four and didn't make it.
The sharp set of rocks visible from Quetzaltenango, known locally as La Muela (the molar), is reachable in 2 hours. La Muela and its environs are quite popular with rock climbers, but this bit of lava is not the actual summit of the volcano, which lies a couple of kilometers to the west.
So far as I can tell, there are four peaks to Cerro Quemado. The easternmost is La Muela. The other three lie further west, and the most southern and central of the three western peaks, also the highest, is what, I think, is the actual summit of Cerro Quemado.
If anyone has info on summiting this, the highest of Cerro Quemado's peaks, please post. I am not a climber, and chickened out when some free climbing in a chimney cave appeared to be the only way to continue. I'd like to try a different route, maybe around the south side of the volcano. For such a route, one would have to get a very early start, as the wind and mist seems to arrive from the south before noon on a normal day in the dry season, and getting cliffed out in the land of loose boulders the size of most Guatemalan homes when surrounded by cold mist and gusty winds takes a simple bouldering problem to a new level. The off-trail, off-lava undergrowth on the mountain is also dense.
If you want to try for the summit, the best route to this section of the mountain can be done quickly by avoiding the lava field around La Muela and instead going via a well-worn and well-marked trail from the vicinity of Los Vahos. On the way to the steam baths, you'll pass an abandoned (?) school with a Tigo logo painted on and a steer tied up out back. Okay, the steer might be hamburger by the time you read this, but the school will still be there. About 200m after this landmark, you will come to a T-intersection. Los Vahos is to the right. Turn left instead and continue on a double-track road through some farm fields until you come to a a switchback trail at the base of a steep hill. Follow the path of least resistance until you begin to see orange and purple arrows. Then follow those. You'll pass some steam vents after a bit, then you're on your way to the summit. Take a friend. Take a machete. Buen suerte!
After spending a year living in Xela from what I can tell pretty much everything you said is accurate. To the best of my knowledge, from hiking to the top of Cerro Quemado (which as you pointed out is the very top of the area, not La Muela) five times, the only way to the top without climbing gear is through the small cave. I tried from the top to climb down (and probably came far too close to falling to my death) several times, and spent around seven hours a different time, also in vain, trying to find a different route from the bottom. Both failed. The only thing I never tried was climbing from the West(starting in Llanos del Pinal, at the base of Santa Maria.) That route, however, would be bushwacking the entire way - and bushwacking in the forests surrounding Cerro Quemado is incredibly difficult.
Hope this helps clear up a bit of confusion. Thanks for the good description of the route! I will brag quickly and say that I once made it up and down the route, starting from close to the parque central, in less than three hours :)
If anyone has a question about Cerro Quemado or Xela feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, as I check that much more than sp.
Thanks for the great info. on reaching the top of Cerro Quemado. With your permission I would love to add it to the text of the page to make sure folks see your contribution. I agree about the timing. I have never made it to the top in two hours - more like 4 to 5 assuming blue skies and that you don't find yourself at the bottom of one of the bazillion lava walls.