Views of Lake Atitlan

5 Epic Lake Atitlan Hikes & Trails

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When looking for things to do around Lake Atitlan, adding a hike or two to your itinerary is a great way to spend a few hours, a full day, or an overnight adventure! Lake Atitlan hikes range from easy to strenuous, so there is a little something for every kind of hiker, beginner or advanced.

If you are looking for exceptional views and a challenging day hike, then hiking one of Lake Atitlan’s volcanoes should be added to your list of things do to in Lake Atitlan. There are three volcanos for you to choose from – San Pedro, Toliman, or Atitlan. All three are challenging and for safety reasons (trail robberies), hiking with a guide and tour company is highly recommended!

If you are looking for something a little less extreme, we have other Lake Atitlan hikes listed below for your consideration too!

Lake Atitlan Hikes & Trails

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1. Hiking Volcan San Pedro

Of the three Lake Atitlan volcano hikes, San Pedro is the most popular.  It’s the smallest of the three volcanoes in Lake Atitlán, making it the shortest of the three volcano hikes. You’ll hike (steeply) through coffee fields and forest until eventually reaching the top (9,908 feet / 3,020 meters) which offers spectacular views of the lake.

The hike will take anywhere from 5-7 hours depending on your fitness level. Regardless of how long you think it will take you, starting early in the morning (7 AM or earlier) is recommended as this is a full-day hike! Plus, it’s always best to hike early to avoid any inclement weather (rain or clouds) in the afternoon.

To get to San Pedro’s trailhead, you’ll first need to get to San Pedro – lancha’s start running at 6:30 am. Once in San Pedro, flag down a tuk-tuk to take you the 10-minute drive to the trailhead. Once you reach the San Pedro trailhead/visitor center, you’ll need to pay a 100Q entrance fee (per person). You’ll need to pay your entrance fee in cash (quetzals). Once paid, you are set to hike to the top of Volcan San Pedro!

You can hire a guide once you arrive at the entrance to San Pedro.

San Pedro Stats: 4-5 miles out and back (2 – 2.5 miles each way) | 3,786ft elevation gain | rated as hard

San Pedro Volcano in Guatemala

2. Hiking Volcan Atitlan

Looking to hike to the highest viewpoint on Lake Atitlan? Well then, Volcan Atitlan is your hike! This is a doozy of a hike and truly takes all day to hikearound 10 hours. Turning this into an overnight hike is an option, just coordinate with your guide to see if that is something they offer.

Volcan Atitlan towers at 11,598 ft / 3,535 meters and for those wanting to conquer Volcan Atitlan, you’ll leave very early from Santiago. You’ll want to pack accordingly – lots of snacks, water, layers, proper footwear, etc – to ensure you are prepared for an all-day 6,400+ elevation gain trek.

The majority of the hike is through dense forests until you near the summit, where you’ll scramble to the top on loose volcanic rock. The summit is rocky (likely from the last eruption in 1853) offering you 360-degree views of the lake and on clear days views of Acatenango and Fuego in the distance.

Atitlan Stats: 10.5 miles out and back (5ish miles each way) | 6,492 ft elevation gain | rated as hard

3. Hiking Volcan Toliman

Volcan Toliman is the least popular of the three Lake Atitlan Volcano hikes. Why? As we understand it, the difficulty for little payoff, aka the lack of views. Sitting at 10,361 ft / 3,158 meters in elevation, people who hike Volcan Toliman do so for either the challenge or to say they hiked “The Giants” aka the three volcanoes of Lake Atitlan.

However! Toliman is unique when compared to the other two volcano hikes. At the summit, Toliman has twin peaks on either side of a 650 ft (200-meter) crater. Also, while hiking to the summit of Tomlin, you have the chance to see Quetzales, Guatemala’s National Bird as the majority of the hiking is trekking up through forests.

You’ll start your hike from Santiago where you’ll take the day hiking up and down Toliman – around 7-8 hours. Some people opt to book an overnight hike to Toliman (to enjoy sunrise and sunset from the peak) or opt to tackle this hike in one day. Regardless of which option you choose, booking a tour and doing this hike with a guide is highly recommended for the same reasons as the other volcano hikes, trail robberies, and overall personal safety.

Toliman Stats: 8.3 miles out and back (4 miles each way) | 4,747 ft elevation gain | rated as hard

4. Sunrise Hike To Rostro Maya (Formerly Indian Nose Hike)

Probably the most popular hike on Lake Atitlan is Rostro Maya or sometimes called La Nariz. This hike is often and while maybe not intentional, insultingly referred to as Indian Nose. So, please do your best to refer to this hike as either La Nariz or Rostro Maya as its former name is offensive to the Mayans who call this area home 🙂

Rostro Maya is a VERY popular sunrise hike over Lake Atitlan. You’ll wake up before dawn and hike the 30 to 45-minute incline up to the 7,200 ft (2,220 meters) vantage point which overlooks Lake Atitlan from the northwestern part of the lake. Once at the overlook, you’ll have fantastic views of San Juan and San Pedro villages not to mention the volcanoes surrounding the lake!

You’ll depart San Pedro or San Marcos around 4 am where you’ll be shuttled to Santa Clara, the closest town to the Rostro Maya trailhead. If you are coming from Panajachel, you can look at booking this tour to Rostro Maya.

Once in Santa Clara, you’ll hike a little less than one mile up a very steep, but short trail until eventually reaching the viewpoint just as the sky starts to turn light.

Rostro Maya Stats: 1.7 miles out and back (1ish miles each way) | 515ft elevation gain | rated as moderate

Rostro Maya viewpoint at Sunrise
Image Credit: Alltrails

5. Lower Mayan Trail Hike (Santa Cruz to San Marcos)

Lower Mayan Trail is a trail that follows the lake shore from Santa Cruz to San Marcos. You can start in either town, but Santa Cruz is the recommended starting place as it’s a much more scenic start.

From Santa Cruz, you’ll walk the shoreline of Lake Atitlan, passing through the towns of Jaibalito and Tzunana until eventually arriving in San Marcos, where the trail ends.

You can opt to hike the whole trail or make it shorter by starting or stopping in either Jaibalito or Tzunana. If you choose to hike from Santa Cruz to San Marcos, the trail takes around 2.5 – 3 hours to complete. You’ll trek over frequent up-and-down sections, and encounter a few flights of stairs, but have great views of Lake Atitlan the entire way.

Once you end the hike, you can plan to grab lunch in San Marco’s or catch a lancha back to the town you are staying at on the lake. Now, just to call it out, there are reports, like the other hikes in Lake Atitlan, of trail robberies. So do your best to avoid hiking alone or, opt to book a group tour.

Lower Maya Trail Stats: 5.4 miles (Santa Cruz to San Marcos) | 2529ft elevation gain | rated as moderate

Lower Maya Trail Hike
Image Credit: Alltrails

At the end of the day, just be cautious, aware of your surroundings, and avoid hiking alone when you can. Loads of hikers have had AMAZING experiences hiking around Lake Atitlan so just be smart, let people know where you are hiking too, and you should be fine!

Hike To a Lake Atitlan Waterfall (Catarata Waterfall)

The Monkey Trail within Reserva Natural Atitlán allows you to get up close and personal with a 75 ft high waterfall, Catarata Waterfall.

Reserva Natural Atitlan is around a 15-minute ride from Panajachel so you can easily spend a few hours or a full day exploring the Nature Reserve.

From wildlife viewing to ziplining and hiking trails, there is definitely more to see and do than just hiking to Catarata Waterfall in the Nature Reserve. In addition, you can look at extending your time here by booking a night at Reserva Natural Atitlan.

Other Lake Atitlan Hikes

You can check out more trails around Lake Atitlan through Alltrails to get a sense of where these trails are located, their difficulty, and their distance.

Toliman Volcano on Lake Atitlan

Packing For Lake Atitlan Hiking

For the shorter and easier hikes, you’ll need a good pair of sneakers, lots of water, some snacks in a day pack, and plenty of sunscreen. If you plan on tackling the larger volcano hikes, you’ll need to be more prepared.

Below are some suggestions on what to pack, but as always, consult with your guide on what they will provide vs what you will need to be responsible for.

  • Headlamp: If you are planning to do any sunset or sunrise hikes, make sure you have a headlamp with you so you can see the trail with ease in the dark.
  • First Aid Kit: To fix any blisters or cuts.
  • Layers: You never know what the weather will be. We carry layers for warmth or windbreakers/rain jackets in our day packs when hiking.
  • SnacksAlways, always, remember to pack snacks. You’ll be burning some calories on your hike so help fuel your body up!
  • UV Protection: From hats to sunscreen or UV protective clothing, you’ll be out in the sun all day, so treat your body right! Also, don’t forget the tops of your ears! Make sure they get sunscreen.
  • Footwear: Have appropriate footwear with proper tread. Whether it’s books or trail runners, make sure you take care of your feet.
  • Day PackMake sure the pack you are hiking with fits you and is comfortable.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Avoid single-use plastics and pack a reusable water bottle two to take with you on your hike.


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Lake Atitlan Hikes Pin

For more travel tips, guides, and awesome travel shots, be sure to poke around our site, and follow us on Instagram @wanderingstusPinterest, and Facebook. Oh and if you have any questions, let us know in the comment section. We’re happy to answer. Or, leave us a positive note!

Happy Travels,

– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)

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