We arranged a hike of San Cristobal volcano through Tierra Tours. They picked us up at our hotel in Leon at 5am for the 1.5 hour drive to the trailhead. The 30 minute stretch on 4wd roads was reminiscent of most trailheads we head towards at home in Colorado. Our guide was a young freelancer named Jose who was fluently bilingual. We set off at a good pace and it didn't take long before we started walking on gravel, or scree, and the trail started getting steep and loose. With approx. 3500 ft in 2 miles, we knew grades were going to get tough, but we had barely started. The forest had turned to grass and we quickly approached the barren landscape encompassing the top 2000ft of the entire cone in about 45 minutes. This is where the scree got thick and every step involved a little sliding. We were able to stay on our guides heels through stretches of switchbacks, runnels, and sometimes just straight up. We stayed shaded on the eastern side and quite cool despite warm temps. In a couple places, the scree got particularly frustrating, but we pushed through and tried to enjoy it. We reached the summit in 2:15 which was one of the fastest our guide had recorded, so we felt pretty good. After playing around and admiring the astonishing views during a snack, we set off back down. With our scree and snow plunge-stepping experience, we were able to more or less run down the entire slope of the volcano dropping 2000 feet in less than 15 minutes while gathering about a pound of rocks in our shoes.
The trip was a blast and I think our guide had even more fun than we did. However, you should know what you're getting into before you book this one. The terrain is probably unlike anything you've ever been on and could be the worst time of you life if you're not up to it. Just imagine walking on a pile of gravel for several hours. The cost was a bit pricey, too, at $80, but would have been less had there been more than just two of us.