15 Best Things to Do in Mineral Del Chico, Hidalgo + Travel Tips

Mineral del Chico is a secluded pueblo magico in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. While it has a comfortable, quintessential charm, it’s most known to hikers and adventurers because of its location within El Chico National Park.

In this article, I’ll talk about all the best things to do in Mineral del Chico, how to get there, and other helpful information.

Mineral Del Chico Letters and Church.

Why Visit Mineral del Chico: An Overview

Mineral del Chico is not the most well-known pueblo magico (magic town) in Mexico, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit. This small town has infinite charm and immeasurable adventures for everyone.

Mineral del Chico was once a well-known mining town in the 1500s but has since experienced a significant population drop over time as the mines were abandoned. Today, Mineral del Chico has a population of just under 10,000 inhabitants.

Mineral del Chico is now most known as a gateway to El Chico National Park, one of the first protected areas in Mexico.

This national park has 2,739 hectares of forest, hundreds of well-marked trails, and breathtaking views of the Pachuca Mountain Range.

Mineral del Chico: At a glance

Where is Mineral del Chico located?

Mineral del Chico is located 115 km (72 miles) north of Mexico City, in Hidalgo. It’s about 29 km (18 miles) from the capital city of Hidalgo, Pachuca, and situated right in the Pachuca Mountain Range in the El Chico National Park.

It takes about two hours from Mexico City to Mineral del Chico. While it doesn’t seem that far, you’ll feel like stepping into an entirely different world than Mexico City.

You’ll trade the city skyscrapers for mountains, the traffic for winding roads, and the potholes for unpaved paths.

Mineral del Chico map

Photo © Google Maps – Click on the image to open the Map

Things to do in Mineral del Chico

1. Explore Chico National Park

El Chico National Park (Parque Nacional El Chico) is a large protected area surrounding the small town of Mineral del Chico. It’s the highlight of this region, especially for those who love hiking and outdoor adventures.

There are various trails for all skill levels, all within 15-20 minutes from the town of Mineral del Chico. Almost all routes give viewers a pleasant view of staggering volcanic peaks and mountain tops.

The park is heavily forested, with large mountains and hills that offer stunning views of the surrounding areas.

El Chico was established as a protected area in 1989, predating the Mexican National Park system. The most famous peaks include:

  • Las Ventanas
  • Las Monjas
  • La Peña del Cuervo
  • La Peña del Sumate
  • La Muela
  • Los Enamorados
  • La Fortaleza

Compared to other popular national parks in Mexico, there are few services and tours in the area. You can easily drive through El Chico National Park and hike any trails. While most trails are marked and clear, coming prepared if hiking alone is essential.

You can find the Chico National Park information center on the way to Mineral del Chico on the main road for more information on the trails and maps.

Mineral del Chico info Center
Mineral del Chico Information Center

2. Hike or climb Las Ventanas

Las Ventanas is one of the most popular peaks, with the highest peak at 3,090 meters (10,140ft). Rockclimbing and repelling is the most popular method to reach the top of Las Ventanas, but it’s possible to hike most of the way on foot.

At the base of Las Ventanas, there are some fantastic routes that are perfect for beginner and intermediate climbers. It’s also a good starting point for someone interested in getting more involved with sports.

Road to Mineral del Chico town.
Road to Mineral del Chico town.

3. Go rock climbing or bouldering

In addition to Las Ventanas, there are some excellent rock climbing routes for all levels. Additionally, several adventure hot spots have great bouldering locations for those wanting to try it out or get more practice.

However, according to the Mountain Project and several other climbing reports, some rocks aren’t quality. For this reason, it’s best to stick to the most well-known routes (like Las Ventanas).

View from el mirador Pena del Cuervo
Mirador Peña de Cuervo views

4. Visit Mirador Peña del Cuervo

Mirador Peña del Cuervo is one of the most popular attractions near Mineral del Chico and within El Chico National Park. This is a great excursion for those not looking for a full-day hike.

It’s a clifftop viewpoint over jagged rock formations, with breathtaking views of the widespread forest and mountains in the region.

You can reach the viewpoint from the parking area by a short walk and a set of stone steps. There is a large circle formation to stand on and take in the beauty around you.

I was visiting on my own and I found the path very easy to find and safe as well. It’s just a 30 to 45-minute walk from the Parking lot. Some people would walk up to the lookout point but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a 4-wheel drive.

This is considered an important energy center, and many therapists and yogis organize daily retreats there for yoga and meditation practices.

peña del Cuervo platforom
Peña del Cuervo Look out point

5. Go camping

If you’re visiting Mineral del Chico and want to enjoy nature fully, you can also easily camp in Chico National Park. The park has several options, including tent campsites and cabins.

The three most popular campsites in the national park are Dos Aguas Camp, Camp Cedros, and Presa el Cedral. Each campsite is reasonably well maintained, with basic amenities and tons of hiking and walking trails around the camps.

Presa el Cedral reflections in the water
Presa el Cedral reflections in the water

6. Picnic at Presa El Cedral

Presa El Cedral (Cedral Dam) is only about 11 km (7 miles) from Mineral del Chico town center. It’s a beautiful recreation area centered around a lake buried within thick layers of oak, pine, and oyamel trees.

You can easily spend an entire day at Presa El Cedral, whether you have a relaxing picnic near the water or venture out to some of the stunning viewpoints nearby.

Usually, there are other tourist activities available for rent, like boat rentals or kayak rentals. And if that’s not your thing, you have dozens of walking or hiking trails to choose from around the lake.

Presa EL Cedral boats
Presa el Cedral Boats

7. Get (a little) lost in El Chico National Park

If you don’t want to plan any big excursions or hiking trips in El Chico National Park, you can simply drive around the winding roads and see what catches your eye. Several lesser-known hiking trails are right off the main road or down a small connecting road.

Most hiking trails have small parking lots, at the very least. And they are generally well-maintained throughout. We went hiking on a small unmarked trail off the main road and bumped into a couple of friendly volunteers walking the path and cleaning it up.

Of course, you don’t want to get lost. Make sure to take some proper precautions and try to keep a good hold of your surroundings so you can venture back to the car if you decide to go on an impromptu hike.

You don’t necessarily need a rock-solid plan to enjoy yourself in the stunning national park. Most trails and activities are pretty independent, so you can see where the wind takes you.

Mineral del Chico Churc Overview

8. Visit San Antonio Mine

The San Antonio Mine is about 1.2 km (2 miles) from Mineral del Chico. Considering Mineral del Chico first gained notoriety as a small mineral mining town, it’s certainly worth the visit to uncover more of the unique history and culture in the region.

You can tour the San Antonio Mine and explore the shafts, walkways, and tunnels so frequently traversed hundreds of years ago.

The tour is challenging for some, as you may have to climb up and down slippery ladders, so be prepared. But all, it’s a great way to learn about the past and how mining was integral to society.

Mineral del Chico Cafe
Mineral del Chico Cafes

9. Take photos of Inglesia de la Imaculata Concepcion

Purisima Concepcion, or the Church of Immaculate Conception, is the central church in the center of Mineral del Chico. While there isn’t much to do here, it’s a beautiful location with excellent maintenance and a rich history.

A small garden maze in the front of the church has a colorful Mineral del Chico sign. It’s the perfect spot to capture a few photos, enjoy an afternoon cup of coffee, or simply walk by while you’re in Mineral del Chico. 

Mineral del Chico churc Purisima Concepcion
Mineral del Chico church Purisima Concepcion

10. Take a tour with a local guide to El Contadero

Also called el Labirinto (The labyrinth), El Contadero it’s a beautiful short walk around a natural maze made of funny-shaped stones and trees. You will need to go with a guide otherwise you will easily get lost.

Also, the entrance to the labyrinth is not marked and is difficult to find.

I found this place thanks to a guide that I met by chance on Mineral del Chico main plaza. He kindly approached me offering me the tour I am so glad I agreed to join.

He doesn’t speak English but I am sure you will have a great time regardless.

The guide’s name is Benito and this is his phone number +52 1 771 162 0311

11. Try the famous pastes

Hidalgo has their variation of the delicious Spanish empanadas, pastes, or pasties in this region. They feature a crispy dough exterior stuffed with potatoes, ground beef, leeks, and sometimes chile. However, you can now find a variety of different flavors and fillings.

It’s a traditional local food that was brought into the area by miners from the UK when a British mining company purchased the mines in the state of Pachuca.

Fun fact – The British miners also introduced soccer in Mexico, and in Mineral del Monte you will find a mural and a plate on the wall commemorating the event.

You can’t miss out on the pastes while traveling anywhere in Hidalgo, and Mineral del Chico is the perfect location. You can grab a local paste and enjoy it in the sun at the Purisima Concepcion if you have the time.

12. Try the freshly baked bread

Cocol is freshly baked bread, known as a traditional Hidalgo bread. The Spanish first introduced the recipe during their conquest, and it has survived all these years. While it isn’t the richest and most flavorful bread you’ll ever have, it’s a unique snack you can try in a few places.

Huasca de Ocampo church

13. Visit one of the other nearby pueblo magicos

Mineral del Chico is one of many unmissable pueblo magico in Hidalgo. Several others deserve a little more attention.

Huasca de Ocampo is the first ever pueblo magico in Mexico, and is only 40 km (25 miles) from Mineral del Chico. Huasca de Ocampo is slightly larger than Mineral del Chico, with more weekend tourists, restaurants, and food and craft stalls.

It’s known for its fairytale-esque atmosphere and beautiful natural surroundings.

Mineral del Monte is another pueblo magico even closer to Mineral del Chico, only 23 km (14 miles) away. It’s known as a small miner’s town, with several historical museums and old mines to explore.

This is an easy afternoon trip from Mineral del Monte due to its proximity and the similarities between the two towns.

Real Del Monte plaza
Real del Monte Plaza

14. Spend time in the capital city of Hidalgo

The capital of Hidalgo is Pachuca. It’s a very local city with little to offer on the surface. That being said, it offers a unique glimpse into a local central Mexican city.

The center of Pachuca, where the Monumental Clock stands, has a beautiful colonial vibe, with old-school architecture, several museums about the region, and even a few art galleries.

 Most people don’t set aside much time for Pachuca, but it’s worth a quick stop if you have the time in your schedule.

Pachuca Clock tower
Pachuca Clock Tower

How to get to Mineral del Chico

By Car

The easiest and most independent way to get to Mineral del Chico. Here is a breakdown of the distances between Mineral del Chico and popular towns and cities nearby:

  • Mexico City to Mineral del Chico: 117 km (78 miles)
  • Queretaro to Mineral del Chico: 250 km (155 miles)
  • Pachuca to Mineral del Chico: 30 km (18 miles)

While driving to Mineral del Chico is easy, the best thing is you have total freedom to explore the entire area. Mineral del Chico is an active town with many different activities and places to visit you’ll want your car for this trip.

If you’re planning on renting a car, DiscoverCars is a great place to start, with affordable and reliable rental options all over the region.

I rented my car in Queretaro for my 10-day Hidalgo Itinerary and did an amazing loop that included almost all the Pueblos Magicos of Hidalgo and the best natural wonders. Check out my article (link above) if you want to read more.

Mineral del Chico surrounding forest.

By Bus

You can also take a bus from Mexico City to Pachuca and a taxi from Pachuca to Mineral del Chico. While this isn’t recommended, as you’ll have significantly less freedom and time, it’s relatively easy to do.

The buses from Mexico City leave from the Mexico Norte Bus Terminal (Central de Autobuses del Norte). The bus takes about 2 hours, depending on traffic that day.

You can take a taxi 35 km (22 miles) from Pachuca to Mineral del Chico from the bus station.

If you want to stick to public transportation, you can take a taxi or colectivo from the Pachuca Terminal to El Benito Juarez Market (El Mercado del Benito Juarez), located in the center of Pachuca.

In front of the market, you’ll find a colectivo (shared van station) to the center of Mineral del Chico. The trip takes approximately 40 minutes. 

Mineral del Chico Town

Where to stay in Mineral del Chico

Since I didn’t want to change hotels so often to save time, and I loved my hotel in Real del Monte, I decided to just drive to Mineral del Chico on a day trip from Real del Monte and go back to sleep in my royal bed.

It was the best idea because it’s only 30-minute drive. However, if you decide to stay longer here I am sharing a few nice hotels I have found.

Hotel Bello Amanecer

A lovely rustic hotel on the outskirts of Mineral del Chico immerse in nature with amazing views.

👉Hotel el Paraiso

One of the most upscale hotels in Mineral del Chico for a blissful rest and pampering after a day hiking.

The best time to visit Mineral del Chico

The weather in Mineral del Chico is mild all year long. The warmest months fall between May and September, but these are also more humid and wet.

December through March is the best time to visit Mineral del Chico because there is a much smaller chance of rain during your hikes and explorations. The temperature is between 6C (42F) and 24C (74F).

If you’re looking to budget travel, avoid December through February, as hotel and tourist prices are higher during peak season. The low season, with the lowest prices, is from June through August.

I first visited Mineral del Chico in April; it was perfect weather. It rained a little during the evenings and was a little chilly in the middle of the night, but it was mostly sunny and warm during the day. There also weren’t too many other travelers around at this time.

Mineral del Chico views
Mineral del Chico views from the road

Is Mineral del Chico safe?

Mineral del Chico is very safe for tourists and foreigners. While the communities in Hidalgo do have economic and societal strains, primarily due to a lack of resources, the villages and magic towns are incredibly open and friendly toward travelers.

The biggest safety concern comes while hiking. Unless you go with a tour group, you’ll likely be hiking alone. Here are some simple safety tips to keep in mind if you’re hiking without a guide:

  • Always stay on well-marked trails to make it easier to trace your steps back
  • Before starting the hike, you can pin your car/entry location in Google Maps to know where to return.
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks. There are very few places to buy some in El Chico National Park.
  • Tell any family members where you are before starting on a trail.
  • Create a designated “turning back” time; if you’re hiking down an unfamiliar trail, decide on a time to turn back (I.E., one hour or two hours after walking down the path). And remember that you’ll always need time to walk back.

If you go propelling or rock climbing, go with a reputable tour company with positive reviews and testimonials.

El Cedral Mineral del Chico boats

What to pack for Mineral del Chico

Mineral del Chico is a hiker’s paradise, so you’ll have to pack accordingly. Make sure to bring all your most comfortable hiking/climbing clothes, as well as layers, for when it gets chilly.

Here is a more complete list of what to pack:

  • Layers to wear in the mornings and evenings
  • Hiking boots
  • Comfortable hat and sunglasses
  • A camera or smartphone for photos
  • Rain gear if you’re visiting during the summer
  • Sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellant
  • Water wherever you go
  • A backpack for your belongings
  • A daypack for any day hikes or adventures
  • Travel Insurance!

Do I need travel insurance in Mexico? Yes, you do! I can never stress enough what a lifesaver it can be in unexpected situations. Although I hope I never need it, it gives me peace of mind to know that whatever happens, I am covered. I have been using  Safety Wing, and I find it quite fair, covering a lot for its pricing level. Depending on your needs or you can compare different insurance companies on this useful site, TRAVEL INSURANCE MASTER. Make sure you read carefully what’s included before making the purchase. If you are undecided yet, you can read my post on the best travel insurance for Mexico for more clarity.

How many days do I need to visit Mineral del Chico?

You can easily spend 2-3 days, or even longer, in Mineral del Chico if you’re a fan of hiking and camping. If you’re planning to explore more of the surrounding area, definitely set aside at least three days in Mineral del Chico and the region.

If you aren’t here to hike and explore, one or two days is plenty of time to see the main sites and explore the small downtown area.

What’s to see near Mineral del Chico?

Mineral del Chico is out in the mountains but pretty close to civilization. There are several other notable destinations within a short drive’s distance.

Pachuca is the capital city, 29 km (18 miles) away from Mineral del Chico. While there isn’t a whole lot to do in Pachuca, it’s a local city and a great way to experience real Mexican living.

Huasca de Ocampo is the first ever pueblo magico (magic town), and only 40 km (25 miles) away from Mineral del Chico. It has really unique landscape, quintessential architecture, a lively city center on the weekends, and cute gnome mythology that gives it a very magical feel.

Mineral del Monte is another pueblo magico (magic town), about 23 km (14 miles) away from Mineral del Chico. Mineral del Monte also has a rich mining history and is a great complementary destination.

If you have the time, you should definitely try to visit one or more of the surrounding towns. Hidalgo is not as widely visited as other places in Mexico, but it really has so much to offer.

Basaltic prisms of Huasca de Ocampo
Huasca de Ocampo Basaltic prisms

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Mineral del Chico worth visiting?

Yes, Mineral del Chico is worth visiting. If you aren’t too into hiking, the outdoors, and the rich mining history, then you really only need one day to explore the area.

However, if you want to get lost in nature and embrace the beautiful national park, you should definitely set aside at least two or three days here.

What is Mineral del Chico known for?

Mineral del Chico is a pueblo magico (magic town) most known for its mining history, welcoming people, and location within the Chico National Park.

Is it necessary to rent a car to visit Mineral del Chico?

You can get to Mineral del Chico by bus, but bringing your own car is highly recommended. Mineral del Chico is in a small little valley inside the Chico National Park.

There’s so much to see and do around the small mining village you’ll want your own transportation to fully explore.

What is the best time of year to visit Mineral del Chico?

The best time of year to visit Mineral del Chico is December through March for those looking for the best weather. For those looking for the cheapest price and smaller crowds, June through August has the best prices and deals.

Final Thoughts: Mineral del Chico

Mineral del Chico is a small mining town in Parque Nacional El Chico (El Chico National Park) in Hidalgo state, Mexico. While it isn’t as popular as other Mexican destinations, it’s full of so much personality and has so much adventure awaiting.

You must visit Mineral del Chico if you have any interest in the mining history of Mexico and more off-the-beaten-path regions in Central Mexico.

For further reading…