Hike El Tular Canyon in the Sierra de la Gigante Mountains

Rate this Adventure El Tular Canyon

Take a break from the wind and heat to hike into what remains of an ancient Cochimí garden deep in El Tular Canyon. This oasis offers spectacular views of the Sierra de la Gigante mountains and gets you close up to hundreds of wild hummingbirds.

My favorite time to make this hike is just before sunrise. The alpine glow on the range above the cool canyon is a beautiful sight. There is enough time to make the hike and get back before the sun begins to heat the canyon floor, awakening rattlesnakes and Baja's intense midday heat.

About 8.5km south of the arroyo bridge in Loreto on Highway 1 is a substation. Make a right as this is the ranching road that heads west up into the mountains. A high ground clearance vehicle is recommended, but any car can travel the road cautiously up toward the range. 4kms in there is an open dirt parking lot area on the right. Across from the lot on the side with El Tular Canyon is a couple game trails made by cattle that go down into the canyon. This is the start of the hike.

Don't worry if you think you are on the wrong trail to start. They all head down into the canyon floor. From here turn right and head west up the river banks checking to make sure you are not stepping on any of the small plants that live here. From November to March the river may flow all the way to this point. Flash flooding is only a concern during monsoon season from late July to November when hurricanes make landfall.

The gardens begin about 1.5kms in. With the landing of the Jesuits in the 16th century, exotic fruit trees were added to the palms, figs, and herbs. A combination of gravel mining and a hurricane in 2014 has wiped out most of the terraced garden. What is left are the remains of an old resort, an orchard, and some massive trees whose roots resisted the washout. An effort led by local activists is being made to preserve this region as a park in the hope that this garden can be restored.

Follow the water for about another kilometer to learn that the source is both from the mountains and from an artisanal well. The opening of the well is surrounded by yellow trumpet vines that are usually buzzing with dozens of endemic Xantus's Hummingbirds. 

When you are finished, retrace your steps back to the hike out. If you miss the trail, hike back up the canyon wall and find the road to walk to your vehicle. Back in Loreto you can grab a handcrafted pastry and coffee and Pan Que Pan to finish your morning before starting a day trip expedition in the bay.

Please visit the Ocean Foundation's donation page to help protect this adventure and the 5,000 acres of wells and rivers around it.


Pack List

  • Camelback Octane Dart hydration pack
  • Merrill tail running shoes
  • Compass
  • Native sunglasses
  • Lifestraw 
  • Clifbar
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RT Distance 2.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 328.1 Feet
Activities Photography, Yoga, Hiking, Fitness, Rock Climbing
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Winter
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Swimming Hole


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