This is the main hiking route to and up Paricutin from the village of Angahuan. The approach is more direct than the route taken by the horses, and both can be combined into a nice 12 mile loop.
Photos & revisions posted shortly.
See main page for Paricutin.
A friend noted an elevation of 2400 meters in Angahuan though I would be surprised if the entire hike had an elevation gain of over 770 meters. The first mile or two descends from the small plateau where Angahuan is located and then reascends over a few hills (thus the name Ruta collado according to our Tarascan guide) on the approach to the lava field. Miles 3-4 are spent crossing the lava field to the base of the cinder cone. Work your way to Paricutin following the occasional white paint marks on rocks along the way. The route can be slow, particularly for those with poor balance due to the uneven footing of the lava field. The ascent route is up a steep chute between the sulphuric parasitic cone (Sapichu cone) on the NE slope of Paricutin and the main cone itself. Roughly half way up the cone you will reach a sandy spot with Paricutin on your right (south) and Sapichu on your left (north). Continue between them while looking for a route up to your right. It is easy to miss but also easy to spot once you are past it. Head up the steep, loose route to the north edge of the cone. The crater edge has two high points (west and east edges) and two low points (north and south edges).
You have come approximately 4.5 miles. There are two primary return routes.
1. The way you came.
2. Head to the descent route located just south of the cross near the western highpoint. The steep descent gully is the primary descent route for the Paricutin. It will lead you to the ~ 7 mile horse route to return to Angahuan around the lava field. Easy walking the whole way back and in 4-5 miles you will pass many shelters where you can buy some food and drinks from local Tarascans. Visit the buried church of San Juan while you are here. Roughly 2-3 miles hiking beyond the church/rest stop will bring you back to Angahuan.
Good hiking shoes. Possibly rain gear. Some find a hiking stick useful for the lava field.
Go to the url below for a nice image sequence detailing the lava flows from Paricutin from 1943-1952.
We were told a guide was necessary to climb Paricutin. We took 12 study abroad students up Paricutin by the ruta collado with a guide. I believe the guide charged us 400 pesos for the day.
Including our stop at the church to eat/drink on the return, our group took 9 hours round-trip. Most groups should take 6-7 hours, unless you have many novices with you.
Pico de Tancitaro is off to the SW of Volcan Paricutin (3842 m) and can be climbed as well. Ask in the village of Tancitaro for a guide.