On the eastern outskirts of Quetzaltenango rises Cerro El Baúl, a moderately sized lava dome that measures 2,650 m above sea level. The elevation is a bit deceiving when you consider that the city itself is 2,330 m high, but who are we to rain on a lookout point's parade? The point is, if you're in search of an easy 1,000 ft vista over the second largest city in Guatemala, this is the hill for you.
The hike up El Baúl is pretty straightforward: just take the dirt path from the road as soon as you see the sign welcoming you to this quasi tourist attraction. You can also choose to ascend/descend via bike if that's more your style. On the plus side, once you find a clearing above the trees the views from the top are excellent. There's also a park not far from the summit that features a giant stone sculpture and crazy 4-person cement slide, perfect for racing your friends down (provided you're not too concerned with things like personal safety). On the not-so-plus side, the condition of the hill has deteriorated noticeably in recent years due to a lack of proper maintenance. There have also been mounting reports of robberies along the trail (focused on individuals), making solo and/or night jaunts highly inadvisable. However, provided you use sound judgement (you're pretty much guaranteed a hassle-free hike if you go with a few friends) and leave your valuables at home, this can still be a highly satisfying way to spend a few hours romping around the periphery of this beautiful city.