cruz del ilalo

People who travel to Ecuador usually don’t stay too long in Quito. I don’t blame them, either. This country is full of so many activities and beautiful things to see. But Quito has amazing outdoor activities, too! The first hike we did when we arrived was Cruz del Ilalo.

We stayed in the La Carolina district of Quito, only a 30-minute drive away. This was the perfect activity to acclimate to the high altitude and prepare for harder hikes.

If you’re looking for a slightly different activity than Mitad del Mundo, check this out. In this guide, I will go over all the details on how to hike Cruz del Ilalo and if it’s worth it.

cruz del ilalo

What is Cruz del Ilalo?

Cruz del Ilalo is a trail that leads up to a large cross. This trail is on Volcan Ilalo. But don’t worry; the volcano has been dormant for many years.

This trail is popular amongst locals as a great place to go and get some exercise. Along the trail, we also ran into many dirt-biking people.

Ecuador has a lot of unique hikes like Laguna Cuicocha, Mindo waterfall hike, and Quilotoa loop. I’d place Volcan Ilalo more in the normal category but don’t underestimate it.

Where is Cruz del Ilalo?

You can start the hike in different spots if your main goal is to summit Volcan Ilalo. We decided to reach the summit by taking the Las Cruces trail.

The Las Cruces Trail starts at the El Tingo Chapel. This trail will lead you past multiple crosses along your way to one giant cross at the top.

If you rent a car, there is a parking lot next to the trailhead and the church.

How to Get to Cruz del Ilalo?

Getting to the trailhead for Volcan Ilalo can be difficult, especially if you don’t have your own car. Thankfully Uber is widely available in Quito. This makes going to difficult places much easier.

I’m not sure if all taxis would know how to get here or if they would even know about it. The ride was between 30 minutes and 45 minutes, depending on the time of day you go.

We got stuck in a lot of traffic on the way there, which wasn’t ideal, but the Uber cost us $11 from La Carolina.

Quito to Volcan Ilalo

No matter where you’re staying in Quito, the price of an Uber here won’t be too expensive. I moved the pin closer to El Mirador del Ilalo – Cafeteria when calling Uber.

Setting the pin here will ensure your driver goes the correct way.

Things to Know Before Hiking the Cruz del Ilalo

Hiking in Ecuador might be different than what you’re used to. Many of the hikes I did throughout my time here were high in elevation.

It’s always good to come prepared with information. Even more so in a new foreign location. Below are some things you should know before hiking Cruz del Ilalo.

Things to Bring

Besides what some might say, this isn’t an easy hike. The sun was beaming down on us; even after applying sunscreen, we still got sunburnt.

Below are a few items that you should come prepared with Cruz del Ilalo:

Las Cruces Trail

The trail up to the peak of Volcan Ilalo is called Las Cruces Trail. It’s easy to see why it’s called this. We hiked past 14 or 15 crosses before reaching the top.

Right past the main big cross, we kept following the trail toward the summit of Volcan Ilalo.

las cruces trail, cruz del ilalo

Volcan Ilalo

This was our main goal. To reach the summit of Volcan Ilalo. The summit reaches heights of 3,194 meters or 10,479 feet. I’m not sure why it says 8,136 feet. Maybe my calculations are wrong on that one…

The hike from the main cross to Volcan Ilalo was steep. We visited during the dry season but I can see this section being extremely difficult during the rainy season.

Travel Insurance

No matter where you’re traveling to in the world, you’re going to run into accidents. And you want to be covered when these unforeseen things happen.

That’s where SafetyWing travel insurance comes in. SafetyWing is one of the most known travel insurance companies in the world. They work great for how much I travel per year.

You’ll be covered up to $250,000 and their reimbursement speed is unmatched. They’ll even cover you for a short period of time when arriving back home.

Hiking Details for Cruz del Ilalo

  • Distance: This hike is a 3.6-mile out & back trail.
  • Duration: On average, it will take people 3 hours to finish. This depends on fitness level and if you decide to hike to the summit of Volcan Ilalo.
  • Difficulty: I’d rank this hike moderate because of the heat and steep sections.
  • Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1673 feet or 510 meters.
  • Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public

Best Places to Stay in Quito

Quito is the perfect launching point for your trip to Ecuador. Explore the old town and visit popular locations like Ciudad Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the World City).

Below are some great options for accommodations during your visit to Quito.

  • La Casona de la Ronda Hotel: This is one of the most beautiful hotels in Quito. Enjoy your stay here with an American Style buffet breakfast included.
  • Dakani Hotel Boutique: A new hotel in Quito that is recently gaining a lot of buzz. Stay at this stunning boutique hotel for a startlingly great price!
  • El Patio Hostel: This is one of my favorite hostels in Quito because of the great prices for private rooms ($25) and dorms! You won’t be disappointed when staying here.

My Experience Hiking Cruz del Ilalo

I will admit. This hike was brutal for us. Before hiking Cruz del Ilalo, we were at sea level for many months in a row. This was between Virginia Beach and Puerto Rico.

I had previous experience hiking in high altitude but this hike was also extremely steep. At least steeper than I thought it would be. But nonetheless, we pushed on.

We started this hike by going past the church and continuously up a hill until we passed a new cross every 10 or 15 minutes.

cruz del ilalo
cruz del ilalo, las cruces trail, volcan ilalo

After a few hours of hiking straight uphill, we finally arrived at the large cross. We originally set out to hike to the summit of Volcan Ilalo. This hike has us questioning that.

We headed further along the trail after flying the drone a little bit. We looked up at the steep incline that was awaiting us and took a step back to contemplate.

I’ve never quit on a hike because I was too tired, and today was no different. So we pressed on and I’m glad we did.

The views were epic and the summit gave us stunning 360 views. The trail up and back down was difficult but nothing you should be afraid of.

volcan ilalo, cruz del ilalo
cruz del ilalo
volcan ilalo, cruz del ilalo
volcan ilalo, cruz del ilalo

My Final Thoughts on Hiking Cruz del Ilalo

Cruz del Ilalo was a great wakeup call for us and I’m glad we did it. We would have been better suited for this hike if we had done more strenuous ones. The views are amazing and the workout is great. If you don’t mind taking a long Uber/taxi, I highly suggest you try this hike!

Thanks for reading my guide on the Cruz del Ilalo hike! I hope this gave you more ideas on some activities to do around Quito.

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