Putting Two and Two Together To Get Three (Crosses)
Kim and I had found awe-inspiring Instagram videos of guys working out on top of a mountain with wicked Medellin views as the backdrop. We had also seen a dirt road going right up the side of a mountain across the valley. And our friend Juliana had told us of “El Monte,” a hill she regularly hikes for exercise. But it took months for our aguardiente-impaired minds to put two and two together and realize they were all the same place, the Three Crosses Hill, a.k.a. El Cerro de las Tres Cruces.
We checked it out at last and discovered why it is Medellin’s top outdoor fitness spot. Literally.
Cerro de las Tres Cruces Hike Guide Outline
- Duration: 20-40 minutes up
- Difficulty: Moderate. Hikers of all levels will be able to manage.
- Distance: 1.2 kilometers each way
- Elevation Gain: 320 meters / 1000 feet
- What to Bring: Protection from the sun if you’re going midday and either your own water or money to buy hydration on the hill.
You can save these waypoints to Google Maps on your phone by following our simple instructions for using Google Maps offline.
Getting to the Trailhead
The base of the Cerro de las Tres Cruces hike is in southwestern Medellin, in Belén’s La Loma de Los Bernal neighborhood. It’s an upper-middle class area that was once considered to be “el nuevo Poblado.”
It never became the “new Poblado” in part because of lack of public transport. There are busses that pass by the base of Cerro de las Tres Cruces, but unless you live in Belén, they’re not convenient.
You’re better off taking a taxi or an Uber. Coming from Poblado metro station, it was only 12,000 COP for us. That’s just as cheap as taking the bus anyways if you split it with a friend or two.
Unlike our other hike guides, we won’t bother giving you detailed instructions for hiking Cerro de las Tres Cruces. The path is so obvious you can literally see it from miles away.
Plus, at any given moment, there are dozens of other people on the trail you can follow.
People watching is actually part of the fun. It’s also a great way to take your mind off your exhaustion. From surgically-enhanced women in neon-color-coordinated outfits, to lean old-timers doing the hike for the thousandth time, to hard-core fitness freaks wearing weighted vests, ankle weights, and Bane-like oxygen-restricting masks, to regular Joes (er… Josés), all walks of Medellin society hike up Cerro de las Tres Cruces. Even, as seen in this video, a one-legged man:
The entire path is hard-packed dirt and rock. Steps have been carved out to make the ascent and descent easier, but with so many people on the trail you’ll often have to cede the stairs to others and hike along the side.
At the base, midpoint, and top of the hike you’ll find concession stands selling fresh-pressed juice, fruit, and whatever else you might need for an energy boost. Or if you decided to do this hike on a 3-day-fast, they sell water too.
Depending on your pace and fitness level, the 1.2 kilometer long, 320 meter elevation gain hike might take you anything from 20 minutes to an hour to complete .
If you’re a fitness junky and thinking, “1.2 kilometers and 320 meters elevation, that’s it?” think again. There’s more sweating to do up top!
Get Your Heart Pumping, then Pump Your Muscles!
For us, the highlight of the top of Cerro de las Tres Cruces wasn’t the view. It’s nice, but no better than what you can see on every other Medellin hike.
For us the true highlight is the mountaintop outdoor gym.
With cement weights, chin-up apparatus of all varieties, and big tires to flip and carry around, Cerro de las Tres Cruces’ mountaintop gym has an endless amount of toys (or torture devices) to work with. We were pleasantly surprised.
We were also surprised the workout area was busier than the hike itself. Men, women, and workout groups were all over the place getting pumped. Ok, mostly they were standing around flexing while checking each other out, but still.
If we lived in the “new Poblado” instead of the old one, we’d definitely be regulars. It’s a cool spot.
Go Up When the Sun Goes Down?
Our friend Luca regularly hikes Cerro de las Tres Cruces and has a somewhat unconventional recommendation: Instead of doing the hike in the early morning like most, go at night!
The weather’s cooler, there’s obviously no sun to burn your skin, the city lights are dazzling, and the trail’s blissfully empty.
…Maybe too empty?
When Kim mentioned hiking Cerro de las Tres Cruces at night to her taxi driver, he told her that’s a bad idea. A friend had been robbed doing so. When I relayed this to Luca he said that’s nothing more than typical Paisa over-dramatization.
But then another friend of ours corroborated the taxista’s story. He too was robbed of his phone when he went in the evening.
Based on this input, we’re holding off on hiking Cerro de las Tres Cruces at night until Luca can join us for protection. And we won’t take any valuables with us.
Discover More Medellin Hikes
And if you’re looking less of a workout and more of a hike, and less people and more nature, check out our list of the best hikes near Medellin. From waterfalls to caves to ancient trails to pyramids, there’s no shortage of adventure to be had in Antioquia’s hills.