After two weeks of ocean-based activities in Baja California Sur, we opted for a land adventure on our last day. Little did we know that our desert hike in Mesquite (Mezquite) Canyon would leave us completely soaked. The hike, hidden in the Sierra de la Gigante mountain range, near the town of Loreto, is as beautiful as it is fun. The trail meanders through a gorgeous, steep-sided canyon. For most of the hike, we waded through refreshing, clear water. I’d never done a hike like this (I’m mostly deep in the forest) and it brought on a kid-like joy…nothing like getting your shoes and clothes wet and not caring one tiny bit, just living in the moment and having fun.
The hike was guided by Daniel, from Loreto Sea and Land Tours. We’re sure glad we had him along. There is not a chance we would have found this place or made it there with a regular vehicle. Mesquite Canyon is about a 45-minute drive from Loreto, first south along the highway and then turning into a very rough, unmarked road. The trail is also unmarked, though easy to follow once you find the canyon entrance. We were the only ones there, which just added to the adventure.
There’s a little bit of scrambling right near the canyon entrance, but we were soon over the rocky obstacles and entered a relatively wide open area with small pools of water. No worries about wet feet yet.
The vegetation that springs up around the water looks particularly lush against the red-hued canyon.
We wandered on a path, along a shallow creek with the most exquisite green tinged water. The walls started to close in on us as we continued up the canyon.
To this point it had been easy to avoid wet feet by jumping over the little creek and stepping on exposed rocks. Soon, the creek got much deeper with no path on either side—just steep canyon walls. The fun begins!
The water is refreshing and there is something magical about wading through the serene canyon. The canyon walls are beautifully rounded and smooth from millennia of water and wind erosion.
At times, the water reached our waists. It felt great (well it did for me, but judging from the apprehensive postures in the photos perhaps my guys weren’t quite as enchanted as I was).
We walked/waded up the canyon for about two hours. Daniel, our guide, told us that it continues much further. He led us up a steep, short scramble to a pretty cavern where we had a break before retracing our steps back.
Besides the beauty and fun of this hike, I was astounded by the flora and fauna in this harsh environment. We came across a pond with dozens of tiny frogs (this is where a good guide comes in; we would not have seen this ourselves), and trees growing out of the rocky canyon walls.
We were back in the jeep by lunch, dry (except for the shoes) and pigging-out on burritos that Daniel had packed. It was an awesome day!
If You Go:
- If you don’t have an off-road vehicle and detailed knowledge about the location of this hike, use the services of a tour company in Loreto. We were very happy with Loreto Sea and Land Tours who arranged this for us with little notice. In addition to transportation and guiding they also provided lunch and drinks.
- Ask about the water level in the canyon. This changes with the seasons/rainfall.
- This is not a difficult hike, but the rocks and creek bed can be slippery, so be prepared to go for an unexpected dip and mind your camera and cell phone.
- Old running shoes or water sandals with good grip work well.
- The canyon walls provide some shade making this hike pleasant even on very hot days. But drink lots of water.
- The pretty little town of Loreto is a great base for ocean and desert activities, plus it has a wonderful choice of restaurants and places to stay. If you’re in Loreto, try my favourite restaurant, Mi Loreto.