|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2013
Got your eye on Cotopaxi? Work up to it on a series of acclimatizing hikes before tackling the big one. These trips, in ascending order of difficulty, are ideal proving grounds: close to Quito, tall enough to help your legs and lungs adjust, and all doable without a guide.
1. Rucu Pichincha
This straightforward, 6-mile dayhike above Quito is the perfect intro to high-altitude trekking. Hitch a ride to 13,000 feet on the TelefériQo (gondola) located on the city’s west side. The well-traveled dirt path crosses a broad bench and climbs steep slopes to 15,407-foot Rucu. Pichincha itself has two peaks: Look southwest for views of Guagua, the younger, taller (by about 300 feet) one.