Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba | Citlaltépetl

The pico de orizaba national park contains the highest mountain in Mexico, the Citlaltepetl | jkdber19

Orizaba Peak, also known as Citlaltépetl, is a renowned natural landmark that dominates the landscape of Mexico. Standing as the highest mountain in Mexico and third highest in North America, it unmistakably earns its Nahuatl name Citlaltépetl, which translates to “Star Mountain.” This striking summit is part of the Orizaba Massif, a range that extends across the eastern edge of the Mexican Plateau.

The Orizaba Peak is a stratovolcano, a type of volcano known for its layered structure resulting from periodic eruptions. The peak itself reaches an impressive height of approximately 5,636 meters, presenting an imposing and awe-inspiring sight that is visible from the sea on a clear day. The peak and its surrounding areas are encapsulated in the Pico de Orizaba National Park, providing protection for the area’s unique biodiversity and geological features.

The majestic Citlaltépetl is not just a geographical marvel but also a cultural symbol. It has been featured in various local legends and myths, and is considered sacred in several indigenous cultures of Mexico. Despite its challenging terrain and often harsh weather conditions, Orizaba Peak attracts mountain climbers and adventure enthusiasts from around the world. Its glaciers, especially the Gran Glaciar Norte, provide excellent climbing routes.

In terms of biodiversity, the Orizaba Massif hosts a diverse range of flora and fauna. Its lower slopes are covered with lush forests, home to numerous bird species and wildlife, while its higher altitudes have less vegetation due to the colder climate.

Orizaba Peak or Citlaltépetl is not only the highest peak in Mexico but it also carries significant cultural value and offers diverse ecosystems. Its beauty and prominence make it an integral part of the country’s natural heritage.

Fast Facts

Country: Mexico

State/Province: Puebla, Veracruz

Mountain Range: Orizaba Massif, Central Mexican Ranges

Parents: Orizaba Massif, Central Mexican Ranges

Elevation: 18,491 feet / 5,636 meters

Prominence: 16,148 feet / 4,922 meters

Isolation: 1,670 miles / 2,690 kilometers

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Pico Bolívar

Flora and Fauna

Beautiful view of the Pico de Orizaba | Nailotl

Pico de Orizaba, also known as Citlaltépetl, is the highest mountain in Mexico and third highest in North America. Located within the Orizaba Massif in the eastern end of the Eje Volcánico Transversal mountain range, this natural marvel boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna that contributes to its unique ecological character.

The flora of Pico de Orizaba exhibits a range of plant communities that are divided into various life zones due to the steep gradient of the mountain. At lower elevations, tropical deciduous forest and oak forest dominate, giving way to pine-oak and pine forests as elevation increases. The highest altitudes are home to alpine grasslands and bare rock, hosting a number of rare and endemic species adapted to survive in harsh, high-altitude conditions. Notably, the Pico de Orizaba hosts the southernmost populations of Pinus hartwegii, a high-altitude pine species.

The fauna of Pico de Orizaba is equally rich and varied. The lower slopes are inhabited by a multitude of mammals such as jaguars, ocelots, and spider monkeys, while higher elevations provide refuge for species like the volcano rabbit and Mexican volcano mouse. Bird species are particularly diverse, ranging from tropical species in the lowland forests to high-altitude specialists such as the horned lark and black rosy finch.

The Citlaltépetl’s biodiversity is greatly influenced by its altitudinal range and geographical location. However, it faces significant threats due to climate change and human activities such as deforestation and hunting. Preserving the unique flora and fauna of Mexico’s highest peak is vital to maintaining the ecological integrity of the Orizaba Massif and ensuring its continued role as a biodiversity hotspot.


Pico de Orizaba, also known as Citlaltépetl, is the highest mountain in Mexico and the third highest in North America. This towering peak is part of the Orizaba Massif and offers some of the most exciting and challenging hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts. The trails near Citlaltépetl offer a variety of experiences for hikers of all skill levels, each one presenting unique vistas and natural beauty.

One of the most popular trails is the standard route which starts from the Piedra Grande Hut. This trail provides stunning views of the surrounding landscape as it winds its way up to the summit of Citlaltépetl. The path is well-marked and relatively straightforward, making it suitable for intermediate hikers with some high-altitude experience.

Another trail that deserves mention is the Ruta Espinazo del Diablo, or Devil’s Backbone. This trail offers a more challenging ascent, requiring mountaineering skills and equipment. However, the reward is unparalleled panoramic views of the Orizaba Massif and beyond.

For those looking for a less strenuous hike, the trails around the base of Citlaltépetl offer gentle walks through lush alpine meadows and pine forests. These trails offer an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of Mexico’s highlands without the challenge of a summit ascent.

In addition to these, there are many other trails near Citlaltépetl that cater to various fitness levels and interests. Whether you’re a seasoned mountaineer looking for a new challenge or a casual hiker seeking tranquility in nature, the trails near Pico de Orizaba in Mexico offer something for everyone. It’s worth noting that due to the high altitude and unpredictable weather, proper preparation and acclimatization are essential for any hike in this area.

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