The Cerro de San Miguel Hermitage and lookout is one of the sites in these pages least likely to be visited by international visitors. High atop the Cerro de San Miguel Arcángel, it’s a distant peak that rewards visitors with views of both the Valley of Mexico and the Toluca Valley. On clear days one can see Popocatépel and Iztaccihuatl some 70 kms to the east, and the Nevado de Toluca, some 50 kms to the west. It’s a dramatic landscape to say the least.
The Cerro de San Miguel is just about directly between Mexico City and Toluca, the capital of Mexico State to the west. At the peak is one of the tiny hermitages built by the Carmelites from the Desierto de los Leones monastery.
Today, even this distant ruin lies within the mountainous and rugged Desierto de los Leones National Park. The small building dates from 1722-1728. Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) notes that it likely marked something of a property boundary, but that it also symbolizes a watchtower intended for the Archangel Michael, himself. It likely also was built to “Christianize” an indigenous site here. INAH notes some record of idols and ancient artifacts found here. That can also explain just “why” build a hermitage here.
The hermitage is some 3,754 meters above sea level. That makes it easily the highest altitude colonial structure in Mexico City.
Travelers can reach the site via the forest trails but a local guide is recommended. The hike can take between six and eight hours. Although, there are a small population of teporingos (endangered volcano rabbits), the environment remains very fragile. Hikers are asked to respect the park rules for conservation and protection. Most of the people you meet within the National Park will also advise you as to proper preparations for such a trek.
• Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México – Coordinación Nacional de Monumentos Históricos. “Ficha del Catálogo Nacional de Monumentos Históricos Inmuebles número I-0013700070. -. Disponible en: http://catalogonacionalmhi.inah.gob.mx/consulta_publica/detalle/11155”
• Mix Informativo CDMX, Carlos Lázaro: LA ERMITA DEL CERRO DE SAN MIGUEL Y LA RUTA DE LOS CARMELITAS EN LA CIUDAD DE MÉXICO