Trails at Riverside


The premier hacienda accommodations in Copper Canyon provide visitors with the rich living experience of being surrounded by the pristine beauty of North America’s largest canyon complex. Our two restored Victorian properties are located on the subtropical canyon floor away from the tourist traffic, in Batopilas, the town that time forgot.

Batopilas was the richest silver mine for centuries; the maze of tunnels running through the hillside producing chunks of native silver the size of basketballs.
Alexander Roble Shepard was the visionary mayor of Washington DC. Considered a possible presidential candidate, he was responsible for conceiving and building Washington DC as you see it today. But his vision was beyond his budget. The project went so far that he was accused of corruption and saw fit to leave town and settle in the most remote and inaccessible corner of Mexico, Batopilas, in the heart of the rugged Copper Canyon. It was so inaccessible that the first road of any kind was not possible until 1975, almost a century later.

Still a visionary, he brought together investors from France and England and took over the Batopilas mines. He connected the endless tunnels to a single central tunnel served by a railroad locomotive brought in pieces on the backs of Raramuris and mules. His adobe mansion is the Hacienda San Miguel.
He had pianos and the finest European furniture brought down the cliffs by hand. Under his command, Batopilas was the second place in all of Mexico to have electric light in 1880, long before most of the U.S. was electrified. Its generators continued to run long after its mines were abandoned during Pancho Villa’s Revolution. The lights finally went out in 1963 and were not turned back on until 1990.

The Barrancas del Cobre lodge was restored by 92 local artisans in 1989 using only hand tools and traditional methods.



From the city, you can see the ruins of the once majestic home of the Silver Baron, Alexander Shepherd. The Hacienda San Miguel, a Gothic-style adobe mansion, stands on the other side of the river. Walk along the river to reach the other side. Locals have placed wooden planks on the rocks to make it easier to cross, or you can use some of the bridges. Surprisingly, the buildings, though made of adobe, still retain their shape. The roofs have collapsed, and in some cases, the floors are gone. Wild bougainvilleas grow and cascade over the remains of the tallest remaining building.”

Easy city stroll.


I came to teach, but eventually I realized that I was here to learn. - Father Brambila SJ
Easy long and flat hike. Walk along the Batopilas River filled with flowering plants, birds and butterflies. Downstream, about four miles, stands the old mission of Satevo, standing tall and white against a backdrop of blue sky and steep, rocky mountains. The large three-domed church is estimated to have been built around 1760 or thereabouts. A fire in the 1880s destroyed all the original documents. The church holds many mysteries. No one knows who built the mission. There are marked and unmarked graves under the stone floor, and crumbling ochre-colored patterns on the interior walls. Religious statues adorn the mission altar, and during Easter and Christmas, locals place candles and festive paper flowers on the altar. Approximately 8 miles round trip and takes half a day. If desired, a truck can be arranged for the return trip.

The mission has amazing acoustics, and famous musicians such as opera tenor Oscar Ortega and classical guitarist Jim Kline have performed concerts in the old building. Mr. Ortega studied with Luciano Pavarotti and has performed at Carnegie Hall. He also served as Manager at Riverside Lodge in Batopilas. Kline invented the 19-string bowed harp guitar and still performs throughout the United States and Mexico. Fácil paseo por la ciudad.

Hike along the Aqueduct Trail.

I came to teach, but eventually I realized that I was here to learn. - Father Brambila SJ
Easy. Alexander Shepard built several miles of aqueduct to power the light generators in 1885. It still supplies water to the city today. This easy hike is on a level trail along the water that parallels the river. Shade in the afternoon. Go as far as you want. Feeling ambitious? Go left up the first side canyon. No guide needed once you find the trailhead. About 3 miles.


Moderate: Explore this abandoned silver mine! This hike is a steep rocky climb of approximately one mile, gaining an elevation of approximately 800 feet. After exploring the mine, hike a longer, less steep trail, and get great views of the city of Batopilas and Riverside Lodge. Guide’s notes: lots of brush in the rainy season, November, the trail is clear. In fact, I used a machete all of August just to get there. The trail is clear in winter. It’s about half a day. Bring a guide and lunch and flashlights. Maybe 2 miles round trip, but it is steep.


Moderate. Hike to Satevo at the morning lunch stop. Hike up and back along the ridge in about 2 to 3 hours. Great views and steep last descent back to Batopilas. 8 miles round trip.

Stylishly downstream to the Mission. Beautiful views. Come and go in the morning or afternoon OR my recommendation is to pack a lunch and picnic somewhere by the river. Your driver can show you a good spot.


Up to a beautiful view of Satevo and the lower canyon… the whole lower canyon. 4 hours round trip.


This is the big one! Get completely out of the canyon and cross the divide into the Urique Canyon. Fabulous adventure from the tropics to the cacti, from the oaks to the pines until you overlook the Urique River and the canyon. Then it’s back. A long day. Need more? Complete the trip by descending to the Urique River and the town of Urique.

Note. Google Maps has wrong information about this road, it takes around 12 hrs in motor vehicle. Only for experienced folks.


Death march. Recommended only for Tarahumara under 25 years of age. Pass Camuchin up and up and up and up and up to the divide between Batopilas and the Urique Canyons. Incredible views…. a very long day. Start early. Go with guide, snacks for lunch, lots of water and lots of water. Stop often for water.


Very difficult. Take a truck upstream for half an hour to the trailhead. Cross the river and begin the very hilly hike uphill along a magical creek that spills down to a Raramuri settlement in a lush valley full of mango, papaya and orange trees. Here the best sense of the wild nature of the Copper Canyon. For the Tarahumara their concept of home is not the place with the roof. The place with the roof is more like their bedroom. Their concept of home and personal space extends to the corrals and the area around the structure, including corrals, orchards and fields. Proper etiquette is to stand outside tended areas and wait quietly until recognized. When and if they are ready, they will come out to the edge of the area and greet you. It may take a while. Ideal for people who are not afraid of heights. Pack a lunch and bring a guide. You are visiting their private homeland. Here, you better take the pictures to your heart’s content. 10 miles all day.


Moderate. The Tarahumara do not live in villages, but in nuclear family homes hidden in the crevices of the canyons or on high forested plateaus. Perhaps Yerba Buena is the closest they have come to making a village. This one is best done in a vehicle. It is a steep climb up a primitive road from the highway. The small settlement has a church, a school and a clinic. Beautiful views, and if you want to walk from the main road, it takes about an hour. Approximately one mile uphill. “The magic happens best when you take off without a destination in mind. Then…the mountains seduce you.” -Salta McWilliams


You like the hike but ride on horseback! Follow the river to an isolated settlement that was on the silver road used by Batopilas Mining Company to mine over a billion dollars worth of silver on twice weekly mule trains to Chihuahua. This small town saw the first wheeled vehicle only 8 years ago.


Eagle’s eye view of the canyon and town. Spectacular zigzag road access to a very high place.


Three generations in Cerro Colorado.

Moderate. This is along the river and down the side of the canyon along the old silver road to a mostly abandoned gold mining town with about 7 friendly families remaining. Best in winter when the river is low. Bring a lunch and sandals for several river crossings. Recommended guide. Nabor is a good guide for this hike as he lives in Potrero on the trail. Fairly level. About 14 miles round trip.


Rafael El Guapo (meaning the Handsome One) is very proud of his museum. It is an intriguing collection of old things and cool photos for his edification and delight, like the mold used to cast the four hundred 100-pound silver bars shipped by mule train each week in the boom days. He has found photographs of the prominent Batopilas families of the 1880s, dressed elegantly and incongruously in their Victorian finery in this far-flung primitive place. He did his homework and researched the explanations. As a child, everyone knew him as El Feo (meaning the Ugly One). Out-of-town friends are successfully lobbying to change his name to El Guapo (The Good Looking One), which actually fits him much better. Still, he hasn’t married. When asked why not, he simply says, “Women move your stuff.


Very difficult. Starting from the same Huimaybo trailhead as above, hike up a steep mountain trail to another Tarahumara community with fantastic views. If you are lucky, you can visit Patrocinio’s family, who have become famous for their fine violins. Again, at home, best to take pictures with your heart. Pack a lunch and a guide.

Bird Migration Routes in the Copper Canyons

Because of its unique geographic location on the migratory routes, the Copper Canyon area between the highlands of Cusrare and the subtropical lowland town of Batopilas harbors a wealth of birding opportunities. One guest reported seeing a flock of green parrots bathing in the blue pools of the river. Others have recorded American Dipper birds along the river and a family of quetzals. During the flowering season, hummingbirds literally swarm; a rare sight because hummingbirds are very territorial and do not like to share their space. The ancient silver town of Batopilas, nestled between the river and the canyon mountains, lies 6,000 feet below and is accessed by a narrow, dirt road that spirals downward, sometimes almost vertical descents. Here, along the narrow Batopilas River and into the subtropical forest, is a birders’ paradise! Plant life is abundant and varied, providing perfect cover and food for many unusual bird species, such as the fire-colored tanager, flycatcher and green heron.

Bird List of the Copper Canyons in the High and Lowland Migration Routes.

Aves vistas por Larry Liese de Nature Treks en un viaje de 8 días.

This is a partial list based on other birders’ sightings. These and other bird species can be found in the Batopilas area OR in the high country. Some are abundant, others quite common, and still others, rare. Keith Albritton is the world’s expert on birding in the Copper Canyon. He can provide more information at 414-530-1217.


As you know from literature and the press, the Tarahumara are natural runners. Uphill and downhill on very rough trails… they run. I asked Bastiano: “Why are you running everywhere?”. He shot me a dumb-question look. “To get there.” I guess I could have asked myself why I drive 40 miles per hour to the store when I could drive 10 miles per hour. Micah True, El Caballo Blanco found a natural affinity with the Tarahumara. He was well known in Batopilas and the trails that radiate from the town. Christopher McDougall came to Copper Canyon, met True and the Tarahumara, hiked and biked here. I think he came to understand what the Tarahumara understand. So he decided to tell people about the magic of running… that people were born to run… the rest is history.
“My feet are very sensitive from running in crappy shoes, dancing on boulders and scree-like rocks in these steep canyons. Even though I’m pretty wrecked, this energy flowing through my warrior spirit fuels a passion to seek more. I’m eating like a horse, imagine that! Like a true Dawg, or Gus, I keep chewing on what’s in front of me. My appetite is insatiable, I ate a big dinner at Dona Mica’s and then ended up with a bunch of bananas and tangerines for dessert. I’m going to stretch and pray. And, hopefully, have sweet dreams. I don’t have a plan for tomorrow. Watch what happens. I love to run some long trail that I don’t know. It keeps me in the present. And I usually arrive at the top of a majestic mountain, or the destination town, refreshed and surprised that I’m already there. Because I don’t wonder where I am, or when the goal will be reached. Every breath – in the present. I am here! Therefore, my goal is always reached. – February 12, Micah True.