Cusarare-Divisadero | Copper Canyon, Mexico, 2001

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Cusarare Falls

Distance :  52km approx.

Avg.Time :  3 – 4 days

Start / Finish :

  • Cusarare – Divisadero
  • Both trailheads can be accessed by regular public transport from Creel. From Divisadero you have the option of either train or bus.

Season :

  • October to March.
  • October/November are the best months for hiking in the Copper Canyon region. Coming immediately after the rainy season (June to September), the creeks generally have water, and the temperatures are neither too hot, nor too cold.

Maps / Info :

  • Las Barrancas del Cobre or Copper Canyon region, is a system of six interconnected canyons (one of which is the Copper Canyon itself) situated in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. Significantly larger in area than the Grand Canyon, the region has been inhabited for centuries by the Tarahumaras (or Raramuris), an extraordinary people known for their indefatigable ability to run long distances.
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Cam Honan overlooking Urique & Copper Canyons near the finish of the trek.

  • An article titled A People Apart, which appeared in the November, 2008 edition of National Geographic Magazine, gives an excellent overview of the social, economic and environmental challenges facing the Tarahumaras.
  • If you are hiking extensively in the Copper Canyon region, I recommend purchasing John Fayhee’s Mexico’s Copper Canyon Country (1994 2nd Edition). Not so much a guidebook as it is a travelogue, I found it to be well written, informative, humorous and most importantly for independent hikers, has useful topographic map references for much of the region. In the 1990’s, Fayhee’s book was the only detailed source of hiking information available on the Copper Canyon region. From what I have seen during my research for this website (2010), not much has changed in subsequent years.
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Tarahumara cave

  • For the Cusarare-Divisadero route, you will need the following INEGI 1:50,000 topographical maps: Creel G13A22 and San Jose Guacayvo G13A21. You can usually pick these maps up at the Mission store in Creel (on the Plaza), the INEGI office in Chihuahua or order them online at omnimap.com.
  • All supplies can be purchased in Creel.

Route / Conditions :

  • The route I took from Cusarare to Divisadero differed somewhat from the purposely vague description in Fayhee’s book. Fayhee did this trek as part of a guided trip, and promised his guide that he would not divulge the details of the hiking route to the general public.
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Cusarare River

  • In the end it was not so much of an issue. There are so many trails in this part of the Barrancas (canyons), that with good navigating skills, you should be able to make your way to Divisadero without too much of a problem. When in doubt, head west!
  • Situated near the beginning of the trek, Cusarare Falls are a spectacular sight during or soon after the rainy season. From the falls, follow a mostly clear trail along Cusarare river all the way to Basirecota hot springs (Creel top map: Grid Reference 395515).
  • From the hot springs, start climbing west, eventually gaining the the ridge that separates Cusarare and Tararecua Canyons. Once at the ridge, head WSW where you will link up with a logging road which leads to the village of Sitagochi (San Jose Guacayvo topo map: Grid Reference 326508). This village backs onto a distinctive “table top” rock (see photo), and it should be noted that its actual location on the ground seems to differ somewhat from where it is marked on the map.
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Sitagochi Mesa (table top)

  • If you are in doubt in regards to your bearings, ask one of the Sitagochi locals to point you in the right direction. You may even be able to hire a guide to take you all the way to Divisadero.
  • Immediately after leaving Sitagochi, start descending on a clear trail which leads to the bottom of Tararecua Canyon. There is good camping (watch out for scorpions!) on a flat sandy beach, where the trail bottoms out at the Rio San Ignacio (fantastic swimming).
  • Cross the river and start ascending in a westerly direction on the true left side of the arroyo. The trail is initially overgrown and soon passes a couple of small Tarahumara homesteads with accompanying bean fields. Note: There is a spring from which good water can be obtained approximately two hours into the climb. From the Rio San Ignacio to the canyon rim should take between three and four hours.
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Descending into Taracuera Canyon

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Ascending out of Taracuera Canyon

 

  • From the canyon rim, head SW on a clear and relatively level trail, which after an hour or so begins to descend steeply to the Arroyo (stream) Rurabuachi. The views on this section are some of the most spectacular of the entire trek.

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  • Cross the stream and ascend steeply in a westerly direction, eventually topping out at the Mesa Mogotabo. Incredible views over the Urique and Copper canyons. From Mogotabo it is less than 2km of easy walking to Divisadero and civilization.

Overview :

  • Except for the initial section from Cusarare to Basirecota, this walk entails a great deal of ascent and descent on steep, rocky trails. Not a good option for those with knee problems and heavy backpacks.
  • Highlights include Cusarare falls, swimming in the Rio San Ignacio and the jaw dropping views of Urique and Copper Canyons.

 

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