Cerro Negro (The Black Hill) is Central America’s youngest volcano, and possibly the most fun to climb!
It takes about an hour to hike up the hill, with rewarding views at the top, and an exhilarating one-minute slide back down to the bottom.
The way down is the most exciting part. One path is made of smooth volcanic sand instead of coarse rocky terrain. It is too steep to climb but perfect for descent. It takes less than a couple of minutes to run down the slope, and thrill seekers “volcano-board” to the base on wooden sleds. The path can also provide a slow, casual walk for those who just want to take in the scenery.
The only route to the summit is a steep, naturally paved trail. At the top is a trail around the rim of the crater, which often emits smoke. A stunning 360-degree panoramic view reveals the chain of active and dormant volcanoes, lined up one after the other, surrounded by blue skies and lush green foliage.
Know Before You Go
The Cerro Negro can be reached by taking the bypass road from León that leads to the highway to Chinandega. Only a couple of kilometers from León there is a sign pointing to Lechecuagos, a rural community, and there is also a sign that indicates the Cerro Negro. From here the road is unpaved and signs are set up in the direction of the volcano. Sometimes road signs are missing in this maze of sandy paths, so be sure to ask around whenever the direction is not clear.If you don't want to climb Cerro Negro on your own you can also book a tour with one of the hostels/hotels or tour agencies in Leon. The price for the tour usually includes the entrance fees, transportation, a bilingual guide, volcano boarding gear, and a small snack.Most backpackers who board down Cerro Negro stay in the city of Leon but those who prefer the breeze, day trips can be booked from the beach town, Las Peñitas.