The Complete(ish) Adventure Guide to San Miguel de Allende
Mountain Biking Guide to San Miguel de Allende
It's with a heavy heart that I must inform you, my fellow adventure seeker, that the mountain biking in SMA is pretty weak sauce. I was planning on riding a ton here over our 3 1/2-month stay but instead got burned out riding the same rides and basically stopped going out altogether 8 weeks into our stay.
There are a few fair routes: There's a bit of open space around the botanical gardens that are flat, but pleasant and pretty. There are some trails on the main hill at the edge of town by the mall. If you're mobile, there's some good riding in Mineral de Pozos, an hour away. There's also some decent riding it you ride along the railroad tracks out of town to the north, where you'll see a handful of singletrack trails leading off into the desert (there's even a BMX pump track back there).
However, none of the rides is particularly amazing and most don't have an abundance of singletrack--much of the riding is on cobbles or dirt roads. Don't get me wrong, it's still a nice enough way to spend an afternoon, as the countryside is pretty and it's great to escape the congestion of town. But you won't be slaying epic singletrack (as I had wrongly assumed before arriving). I was going to post GPS files of a few rides, but I'm honestly a bit too lazy. But if anybody out there wants info, please find me on Strava, where you'll see my routes or email me directly and I'd be happy to chat or send some route info along.
The good news is that there's a great little mountain bike community here and two excellent "real" bike shops (plus a bunch of shops that cater more to the local clunker crowd). The first is Bici Burro, located at Hospico 1. Run by a great dude who has high-quality rentals and leads tours. But be warned: he does charge gringo prices. The other spot--by far my favorite--is Escarabajo Bicicleteria, owned by my man Hermann. Herman is a great mechanic and has a fully-stocked little shop. On most afternoons, the shop is a gathering spot for local mountain bikers hanging out drinking beer. Basically, just like a shop in the States. Escarabajo caters more to locals, so there's not as much English spoken, but the prices are lower and it's an excellent place to meet new riding buddies or get free advice on what routes to go explore. They also do group rides from the shop every Sunday morning. Highly recommended!
Bottom line: both Candice (my trusty Yeti SB) and I are looking forward to Oaxaca, where I'm told there's some of the best riding in Mexico. Stay tuned!
Hiking Guide to San Miguel de Allende
We haven't done a ton of hiking because there isn't much. The hill behind the mall and the Botanical Gardens (and surrounding open space) constitute the entirety of the town's hikes. The large mountain range south of town is privately-owned and supposedly off limits.
In terms of difficulty, the botanic gardens are pretty easy and a person of any age or physical condition could probably get around there. The hill behind the mall is a little trickier--moderate in difficulty, as it's steeper, rockier, and with narrower trails. Both are any length you want because they're basically a network of loops. You could hike 20 minutes or two hours at ether spot. There's no formal trailhead for either, but all you have to do for either is just drive up and start poking around and you'll eventually stumble onto a trail. Or pre-plan on Google Earth.
Beyond these couple areas, you'd have to travel to Mineral de Pozos or Guanajuato for hiking around (and both have pleasant hikes). Also, there's great, though short and fairly strenuous hike in Pena de Bernal. But be warned: the crowds on the trail can reach insanity levels some weekends.
Running Guide to San Miguel de Allende
The story is decidedly better for runners than mountain bikers. At least if you like your runs to be a bit challenging!
You can get in great runs around town. While the city center tends to be a bit congested, any of the hills around the outskirts of town or the quieter subdivisions are great. The kicker here is that you have to love running on uneven surfaces, as it's almost impossible to escape the cobbled streets (and they're extra tough in the rain). Erin isn't a fan of the cobbles, so she's been running less than usual here, but I've gotten to love them. Basically, if you like trail running, you'll be right at home here on the hilly cobbles!
And speaking of trail running, the open space around the botanical gardens (plus the gardens themselves) are great destination to go running. Pretty and wide open, it's a nice sanctuary close to town. Single women should be careful, however, as our local friends have warned Erin against running alone there. However, on the occasions she's gone, it's been more than safe and we've seen plenty of other local and gringo women running solo. So while some caution is in order, I don't know if it should necessarily stop you; I doubt it's any less safe than running alone in any major US city.
Other Adventure Sports in San Miguel de Allende
While SMA has some good runs and a touch of hiking and mountain biking, it's largely a town that's for cultural visitors. So there's not a ton of other activities we'd recommend after our 3+ months here. There is a zip-line and you can go on ATV tours, plus good climbing at Pena de Bernal 90 minutes away... but that's mostly all we've discovered during our time here.
Bottom line: if you're coming to SMA, get excited for the street food, art, architecture, and nightlife. And throw your running shoes into your bag, because there is some great running. But beware: SMA isn't even close to being an outdoor playground that some other destinations in Mexico are.