NOTE: In December, 2013, Justin Lichter and I revisited the Sinforosa canyon as part of our Copper Canyon Traverse. Due to a marked increase in drug activity, I strongly recommend against all hiking in this area for the foreseeable future.
Avg.Time : 4 days
Start / Finish :
- Cumbres de Sinforosa – San Rafael
- The original idea was to finish the hike at the Cumbres de Guerachi. However, on day three, one of the friends I was hiking with came down with a severe bout of food poisoning, thus necessitating a change of plans. We decided to shorten the hike by heading up the Arroyo De Nahuajirachi, which after a long, steep climb, eventually tops out at the tiny village of San Rafael.
- There is no public transport to either trailhead. Taxis can be hired from Guachochi, which is the nearest town to the Sinforosa Canyon. Guachochi can be reached by a daily bus service from Creel.
- To return to Guachochi, you will need to hitch a ride from either San Rafael or Cumbres de Guerachi.
- 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 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.
- 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 buying 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, often humorous and most importantly for independent hikers, has useful topographical 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. Note that in regards to the Sinforosa, Fayhee provides little in the way of information due to the fact that bad weather forced him to cancel his hike before he reached the canyon floor.
- The entire Sinforosa route is covered on the 1:50,000 INEGI map Cieneguita G13A63. You can usually purchase this map at the Mission store in Creel (on the Plaza), the INEGI office in Chihuahua, or order it online at omnimap.com.
- The Sinforosa is one of the most remote, pristine and awe-inspiring parts of the Copper Canyon region. It is also prime drug growing country. In 2001, my friends (Paul and Dinny) and I had the misfortune of accidentally strolling into a huge marijuana field, and as a consequence were forced to do some very quick explaining to the armed “attendant” on duty. In hindsight, the fact that we had a girl in our group, probably helped to diffuse what was potentially a very tricky situation.
- Buy all supplies from Creel or Guachochi.
Route / Conditions :
- The trail from the Cumbres de Sinforosa down to the Rio Verde is clear and easy to follow.
- Once you reach the river, follow its course west. Much of your time will be spent rock-hopping, river-crossing and scrambling. As is the case for much of the Copper Canyon region, trails will sporadically appear and disappear. Not to worry. Just keep heading west along the Rio Verde and you can’t go too far wrong.
- When you reach a huge red rock wall which rises some 400 plus near-vertical metres from the river (you can’t miss it), you will only be about 5km from the Arroyo de Nahuajirachi (Grid Reference 821484), which leads steeply north to San Rafael village. There is a huge boulder situated where the arroyo meets the Rio Verde.
- If ascending to San Rafael, carry at least 2 or 3 litres of water per person from the Rio Verde. The initial sections of the climb are often dry (at least that was the case in October, 2001), and later on the steep and rocky nature of the terrain make access to the stream below a difficult proposition.
- Treat or filter all water.
- Along with the Tararecua Canyon, this was my favourite hike in the Copper Canyon region.
- That being said, do not underestimate or disregard the “drug” presence in the area. Obtain as much up-to-date local information as possible before beginning your trek.