South Slopes of Picacho de los Barriles
Picacho de los Barriles, or "peak of the barrels", is a self-named, small hill that sits a few miles north of the town Los Barriles, which is located about 2 hours north of Cabo San Lucas in Baja California Sur. The hill sits only 1 mile off the coast of the Sea of Cortez, so cool ocean breezes will greet you once you summit. The hill is also covered in very interesting plant life, including the great Cardon Cactus, which are prevalent in this area of Baja. Many routes exist to the summit and most all of them are bushwhacks, which can really annoying with all of the cacti and thorny plants around, not to mention an abundance of scorpions and rattlesnakes. Be sure to wear long sleeves on this hike. I did not, and as a result, got scratched up pretty bad. With appropriate attire, and plenty of water, "Picacho de los Barriles" is a fun little 1-2 hour jaunt. During my ascent, I was not expecting to see any evidence of summitiers previous to me, yet I found an awkward rock cairn with a PVC pipe sticking of it on the summit.
Note on elevation: I began my ascent at sea level, where I calibrated my altimeter watch. It read 1,220 feet at the summit, so the elevation is an estimate based off my watch.
Getting to the base of Picacho de los Barriles is quite simple. First, get to the town of Los Barriles, which is located just off of Mexico Highway 1, about 40 miles north San Jose del Cabo airport. Turn into town and follow the main road through. Los Barriles boasts a large supermarket and several restaurants, perfect for a meal after an ascent. Soon the road travels across two arroyos, Buenos Aires
and San Bartolo
. From this point, the hill is clear in front of you. About 1/4 mile after the second arroyo, a dirt road veers off to the right. Take this road and travel 3 kilometers to the base of Picacho de los Barriles. Park anywhere off to the side of the road. Generally there is less brush on the south and east slopes of the hill, so you may want to plan your route there. With the summit in view, basically just make your way up the which ever slope suits you. I suggest heading up a dry creek bed on the southeast side. The base of this is located just after you pass a small valley on the left of the dirt road, about 2.8 kilometers from the turnoff from the main road. The creekbed is mostly class 2 and leads up to a ridge that leads to the summit. This route takes about 1 hour from bottom to top. Route finding and navigating skills are useful on Picacho del los Barriles, yet getting lost is practically impossible. There is a false summit about 200 yards south from the true summit, and this actually looks like the summit from Los Barriles.
There is no red tape to speak of at all.
Camping is not prohibited.
When to Climb
The hill is best hiked in late fall, winter and early spring. Summer can get brutally hot, and with no wind on the hike or at the summit, things could be down right miserable.