Hiking Venues for “Hoofing It In Oaxaca”

Below is an alphabetical list of the various hikes offered in our program. You will note that not all the hikes are on the calendar for any given season, as we rotate the venues from year to year for variety.  Go to the “Schedule” page to view the hikes offered in the current season listed in chronological order.

Reservations are required for all hikes and weekend trips, as we must make appropriate arrangements for transportation. Reservations are accepted until midnight three days before any given hike.  A non-refundable deposit fee of $5 USD (100 pesos) is required for each day hike reservation made. Reservations for weekend overnight trips require a non-refundable deposit of $10 USD (200 pesos). These deposits may be made using the PayPal link embedded in the reservation page.  Go to the “Hike Sign-Up” page to secure a reservation for one or more hikes. Hike reservations may also be made at the front desk of the Oaxaca Lending Library.  

Be sure to click on the “More Information” link on any of the entries below to find additional material, including maps and photos of that particular site. 


Albi’s Etla Valley Walkabout          Countryside          New in 2016

January 9 & 12, 2018

Albi, one of our assistant hike directors, is also an avid mountain biker who relishes occasional rides in the Etla Valley west of Monte Alban. Many of the roads and trails in that area are well suited to hiking. Based on his extensive knowledge of the region, he recommends this outing as a classic ramble through the rolling countryside between the villages of San Andrés Ixtlahuaca and San Felipe Tejalápam. Participants will enjoy some delightful scenery as well as fresh air and exercise on the hike itself, and then a pleasant lunch at a neighborhood restaurant on the way back to Oaxaca.

Time frame:  9 am to 2 pm   /   Distance:  8.6 kms (5.3 miles)  /  Elevation change: 209 meters (687 feet) uphill & 190 meters (626 feet) downhill  /  Highest point:  1797 meters (5898 feet)   /  Trail:  mainly unpaved country roads  /  Type:  point to point  / Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating:  moderate

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Apoala                                                         Overnight

Not scheduled this season

Apoala is a very small (pop. 200) Mixtec village located in a deep, secluded valley 68 miles northwest of Oaxaca city. Its dramatic setting and some of the physical characteristics of the area make it a fine destination for hiking. Because it takes 3.5 hours to accomplish the drive to Apoala, it’s best to make a visit there a two-day, overnight adventure. The Mexican government has designated Apoala as a natural biosphere, and has constructed an ecotourism center there. The principal things of interest to visitors are the extremely narrow, vertiginous canyon that guards the northern approach to the village; the natural spring at the base of a cliff that gushes clear, frigid water year around; the various caves that riddle the nearby hillsides; and the series of scenic cascades and waterfalls created by the water flowing out of the valley and over yet another cliff.

Time frame:  9 am Saturday through 5 pm on Sunday  /  Hikes into the upper canyon, around town and to the cascadas in the lower canyon  /  Hike distances are short, but the going is extremely rough and steep, requiring good balance and stamina  / Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: moderate to difficult

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Atzompa                                                      Archeological

Not scheduled this season.   Atzompa can easily be reached by bus or colectivo from downtown Oaxaca and is a worthy destination for a day hike on your own initiative.

Atzompa is a small village just a bit northwest of Oaxaca. The hike goes to the ruins at the top of the hill near town, which were excavated in 2007-2012. These ruins  were part of the Monte Alban complex and date from the Classic period of 100-700 C.E.  The site opened to the public in the fall of 2012. At some point there will likely be an admission charge to visit the ruins, though it was still free of charge in 2015. Visitors are encouraged to stop at the community museum about halfway between the Atzompa ruins and the town center, which displays many of the excellent artifacts unearthed during the recent excavations. In 2015 the admission charge for the museum was 10 pesos. After the hike and lunch in town, participants may wish to visit the local craft shops where green glazed pottery is made.

Time frame:  9 am to 2 pm  /  Distance:  7.8 Km (4.9 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  294 M (966 Ft) gain and equal loss  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  city streets & marked paths  /  Exposure:  full sun (no shade anywhere)  /  Rating:  moderate

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Benito Juárez                                             Overnight                     

February 3 & 4, 2018  –  Note that this is a two-day weekend overnight trip

Benito Juárez is the village in the Pueblos Mancomunados closest to Oaxaca city. It is usually reached via the dirt road that climbs nearly 5,000 feet (1524 meters) in the 11 miles (17.7 km) from Teotitlan del Valle. There is an ecotourism camp with cozy cabins for overnight visitors. Meals can be had at a restaurant next to the tourism office. Benito Juárez is a great staging area for hikes to other nearby villages, such as La Neveria, Latuvi or Cuajimoloyas (read more about these places by looking them up on this web site). At an elevation of  9638 feet(2937 meters),  you can expect notably cooler temperatures, especially at night, so be sure to bring a jacket, hat, gloves and layered clothing.  It is not unusual for the area to have fog and light rain, even in the dry season, so light rain gear is also recommended.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Benito Juárez may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am Saturday through 5 pm on Sunday  /  Hikes along dirt roads or on footpaths through the forest to nearby villages or the scenic overlook above the town  / Hike distances vary, as does the difficulty of the terrain  / Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: moderate to difficult

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Benito Juarez to La Neveria                    Mountain

November 17, 2017

Difficult option:  Tucked into a valley in the Sierra Madre and one of the communities in the Pueblos Mancomunados, La Neveria is our destination on this hike, which begins at Benito Juárez. The first part of the trek is along a dirt road, but then we plunge down a footpath that runs steadily downhill. At the end, though, the trail rises sharply from where we cross the Rio Guacamayas, providing a strenuous climb at the conclusion of the hike. This is a fine outing in the highland forests. It is rated “Difficult” because of the altitude, the steepness of the terrain and the condition of the trail. Participants in this hike should be in good physical condition. There is a 60 peso admission fee, and local guides must be hired. Sack lunch required. Motion sickness alert! The ride to Benito Juárez and back from La Neveria may induce dizzyness.

Time frame: 9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance: 8.2 Km (5.1 Mi) one way  /  Elevation change:  363 M (1193 Ft) gain & 565 M (1855 Ft) loss  /   Highest elevation:  2937 M (9638 Ft)  /  Steepest climb on trail:  36%  /  Trail:  dirt road & forest path  /  Type:  point to point  /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: difficult – for terrain, elevation & distance

Moderate option:  Some people might wish to enjoy the high country scenery but prefer a less arduous hike. It is possible to simply walk along the dirt road that links these villages. This is not quite as thrilling is trekking on a steep footpath, but the crisp air and mountain vistas are just as nice.  As with the more challenging hike, there is an admission fee of 60 pesos and a local guide must be hired.  Sack lunch required. Motion sickness alert! The ride to Benito Juárez and back from La Neveria may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance: 6.9 Km (4.3 Mi)  one way  /  Elevation change: uphill 1156 M (514 Ft) & downhill 257 M (845 Ft)  /  Highest elevation:  2937 M (9638 Ft)  /  Steepest downhill grade on trail:  29%  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  dirt road   /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  / Rating:  moderate – for distance and terrain

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Capulálpam                                                Mountain

Not scheduled this season.

The small mountain village of Guelatao, situated 52 kilometers north of Oaxaca city on Highway 175, is renowned as the birthplace of Benito Juarez, likely the most famous (and possibly the only honest) president in Mexico’s checkered history as an independent nation. It and another nearby town – Capulálpam – are deserving of a visit. Capulálpam has the sort of ecotourism park common among villages in the Sierra Norte, all of which support hiking and biking. One of the trails in the area – which consists almost entirely of a very pleasant, little-used logging road through the forest – runs 3.2 miles until it reaches a small water control dam. The hike out and back is a moderate endeavor, suitable for anyone with good stamina. Our group will stop in Guelatao on the way to Capulálpam to visit the memorial and museum to Benito Juárez.  Sack lunch required.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Capulálpam may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 5:30 pm  /  Distance:  10.3 Km (6.4 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  258 M (847 Ft) gain & loss  /  Highest elevation:  2256 M (7401 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  / Trail:  smooth dirt road & footpath  /  Exposure:  deep shade  /  Rating:  moderate to difficult (for elevation and distance)

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Cinco Señores Mine Ruins                    Countryside            

Not scheduled this season.

Most archeological sites around Oaxaca are of Indian origin. But there are Spanish ruins in the neighborhood, too. Montezuma II reportedly told Cortés that most of his gold came from Oaxaca, prompting the wily conquistador to claim the area as his own fiefdom and subsequent Spanish settlers to explore for the precious metal here. There once were significant mines in the mountains near Amatlan and Lachatao. Today what remains is a wonderland of aqueducts, stone bridges and the disintegrating remains of homes, mine facilities and a church. You will definitely want to bring your camera! Pack a flashlight, too, if you want to poke around in mine tunnels. Our hike will follow a footpath along the Rio Papaloapam to visit this intriguing site. Sack lunch required.    Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Lachatao may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 6:30 pm  /  Distance:  4.8 to 6.6 Km (3.0 to 4.1 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  125 meters (410 feet)  /  Highest point:  1550 M (6397 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  / Trail:  footpath through the woods  /  Exposure:  mix of shade and sun  / Rating:  easy to moderate

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Cuajimoloyas to Benito Juarez           Mountain

December 26 & 29, 2017

Difficult option:  Cuajimoloyas is a small village located in the Pueblos Mancomunados high in the Sierra Norte mountains about 30 miles southeast of Oaxaca. This hike, which ends at Benito Juárez, is one of the most strenuous in the program, and so requires that participants be in good physical shape. It is rated “Difficult” because of the elevation, topography and length. The route – mostly on narrow footpaths – runs through steep terrain at an elevation topping 10,000 feet (3048 meters). Temperatures in the highlands are usually about 20 degrees fahrenheit cooler than in Oaxaca City, so a light jacket is recommended. Fog and rain are common here, even in the dry season, so taking rain gear is also suggested. (If it is a nice day, rain gear can be left in the vehicles.) There is a 60 peso admission fee and local guides must be hired.  Sack lunch required.   Motion sickness alert! The ride to Cuajimoloyas and back from Benito Juárez may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 5 pm  /  Distance:  6.9 Km (4.3 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  downhill 547 M (1794 Ft) & uphill 326 M (1070 Ft)  /  Highest elevation:  3170 M (10,400 Ft)  / Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  forest footpaths  /  Exposure:  mostly forest shade  / Rating:  difficult

Moderate option:  Some folks may prefer a less arduous adventure, and so may walk along the road that connects these two villages.  The road travels along a ridge, with less elevation change than the path through the forest. Where the hike through the woods takes about 4.0 hours, a leisurely walk on the road should run about 3.0 hours. This alternate hike is rated “Moderate” because of the altitude and length.  As those going by road will likely arrive in Benito Juárez well before the other group, participants may choose either to pack a sack lunch or dine at the small restaurant across from the ecotourism office in Benito Juárez upon reaching their destination. Another option is to use the extra time to visit the Mirador, a scenic overlook atop the hill above Benito Juárez that offers a splendid view of the surrounding area from the ground, from an observation tower and from an impressive suspension bridge – all of which are free of charge. The Mirador is close by, but requires a strenuous climb to reach the top. As with the more strenuous hike, an admission fee of 60 pesos must be paid and a local guide needs to be hired.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to Cuajimoloyas and back from Benito Juárez may induce dizzyness. 

Time frame:  9 am to 5 pm  /  Distance:  6.4 Km (4.0 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  downhill 483 M (1584 Ft) & uphill 87 M (286Ft)  /  Highest elevation:  3170 M (10,400 Ft)  / Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  paved & unpaved road  /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: moderate

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Cuatro Venados                                        Countryside                                   

January 23 & 26, 2018

San Pablo Cuatro Venados sits near the top of the mountain ridge that forms the western wall of the Oaxaca Valley directly west from Monte Alban. There are tourist cabins there for visitors who want to spend the night at elevation. We will savor the view as our bus climbs the winding dirt road to Cuatro Venados, then enjoy cooler temperatures as we wander through the countryside above the town. Our “trailhead” is on the plateau above the town and is approximately 40 kms (25 mile) from Oaxaca city. You might want to pack a sweater or jacket! Also, there is very little shade, so sunscreen, hats and/or parasols are recommended. Sack lunch required.  Motion sickness alert!  The ride to and from Cuatro Venados may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 5:30 pm  /  Distance:  9.5 – 12.8 Km (6-8 Mi)  /  Elevation change: 182 M (600 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail:  dirt road  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  / Rating:  easy to moderate 

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Dainzu to Tlacochahuaya                    Archeological & Countryside

January 16 & 19, 2018

Our outing begins with an excellent guided tour of the archeological ruins at Dainzu, provided by the long-time resident caretaker of the site. Then the hike proceeds overland through fields and along country roads to the town of Tlacochahuaya, where the local church has been lovingly restored. There is a 40 peso fee for the highly informative tour at Dainzu. Recently the church wardens have been asking for a 10 peso donation to see the interior of the church, where the artwork is of a finer quality than one might expect in a country parish.  The group can eat sack lunches in the park next to the churchyard.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance:  4.8 Km (3.0 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  almost none  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail: dirt roads and footpaths  /  Exposure: full sun  / Rating:  easy

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El Carrizal                                                  Mountain                           New in 2017

December 5 & 8, 2017

The small village of El Carrizal is situated high in a mountain valley which can be reached via a steep and winding dirt road running out of San Miguel del Valle, which is the community that lays claim to a vast tract of forest land in the area. It takes over two hours to make the drive from Oaxaca, but most folks feel the scenery along the way is worth it.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from El Carrizal may induce dizzyness.

Time frame: 9 am to 5:00 pm  /  Distance:   6.4 to 8.8 kms (4 to 5.5 miles), depending on route taken  /  Elevation change:  76 to 167.5 meters (250 feet to 550 feet) depending on route  /  Highest elevation:  2984 meters (9793 feet)  /  Trail:  dirt road  /  Type:  out & back  /  Exposure:  mostly forest shade  /  Rating:  Moderate

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El Carrizal                                                  Overnight                          

March 3 & 4, 2018  –  Note that this is a two-day weekend overnight trip

El Carrizal sits in one of the loveliest high-mountain valleys around. The community recently built a new ecotourism camp. There are miles of footpaths and forest roads in the area to explore on foot or by bicycle.  The staff at the ecotourism camp will be happy to help you enjoy your weekend stay in the village.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from El Carrizal may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am Saturday through 5 pm on Sunday  /  Hikes along dirt roads or on footpaths through the lush forest and to a mirador overlooking the Tlacolula valley  / Hike distances vary, as does the difficulty of the terrain  / Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  / Rating: moderate to difficult

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El Picacho                                                   Mountain                    

Not scheduled this season. 

Challenging option:  The Zapotec village of Teotitlan del Valle sits in the Tlacolula valley 19 miles (31 km) east of Oaxaca city. It is the most renowned of the weaving villages of the area, famous for the rugs and many other items most families there spend their time producing and selling. It is also reputed to be one of oldest continuously inhabited sites on earth, with archeological records going back over 7,000 years (making it as old as Damascus). The community museum on the market square is worth a visit, as are a number of home workshops where villagers work their textile magic. However, the object of our attention is El Picacho, the peak that looms above the town. We will hike the well-defined trail that winds up the side of the mountain to the cross and shrine at the summit. The way is fairly steep, calling for a good dose of stamina. There are panoramic views at the top to reward those who make it all the way. There is a 15 peso charge to hike the trail. After the hike the group will stop for lunch at any of several restaurants in Tule on the way back to Oaxaca.

Time frame:  9 am to 3:30 pm  /  Distance:  4.7 Km (2.9 Mi)  /  Elevation gain & loss:  334 M (1097 Ft)  /  Starting point: 1752.6 M (5750 Ft)  /  Highest elevation:  2081.8 M (6830 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail: footpath  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  / Rating:  difficult

Moderate option:  Those hikers who don’t feel compelled to climb El Picacho have a ready alternative in the roads and trails that stay in the valley and loop around the reservoir at the edge of town.  The same 15 pesos admission charge applies to the easier hike as well. We don’t yet have data on the length of the outing or the elevation gain and loss along the way, but participants in this easier excursion will likely finish their hike about an hour ahead of those who scramble up the peak. They may want to use that extra time to visit the community museum in the town center. After the hikes, both groups will stop for lunch at any of several restaurants in Tule on the way back to Oaxaca.

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Guacamaya                                                Mountain

Not scheduled this season.

There is a small waterfall in the dense forest at Guacamaya, a little village on the flank of the mountains north of Oaxaca. There are also miles of old logging roads crisscrossing the area and an observation tower atop El Portillo.  These make for a satisfying trek through the woods. There is a 10 peso charge to visit the waterfall. Hike participants may choose to take sack lunches or enjoy a fresh-caught trout dinner at a local restaurant, which should cost about 100 pesos apiece.

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  10.3 Km (6.4 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  236 meters (775 Ft) uphill & 539 meters (1768 ft) downhill /  Highest elevation:  3154 M (10,349 Ft)  /  Type:  mix of out & back and point to point  /  Trail: footpaths & dirt roads  /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating:  moderate

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Hierve el Agua                                          Countryside

Not scheduled this season.

Perched on a steep hillside, a series of bubbling springs feed man-made pools before plunging to the valley below. There are a couple of miles of trails around the springs, but this outing is more about savoring a beautiful spot, pausing for reflection, and taking a nature walk than doing an actual hike. Bring your bathing suit, if you like! (There are changing rooms available.) But be forewarned that – despite the name “Boil the Water”  -these are not hot springs; the water temperature will be tepid, at best. Vendors in the parking lot sell snacks and simple meals, but their main offerings are cold drinks, including beer.  Many visitors prefer to pack a decent sack lunch. And don’t forget your sunscreen! There is a very modest 25 peso admission charge. In 2014 a 50 peso parking fee was added. If our bus uses the road through San Lorenzo, the villagers there will charge an additional 10 pesos per person for passing through their town.  A portion of the new highway from Oaxaca to the coast opened in 2015, eliminating many of the twists and turns of the old road, so we no longer post a “motion sickness advisory” in reference to this trip. The new road also cut the drive time to and from Oaxaca by almost 30 minutes each way. 

Time frame: 9 am to 3:30 pm  /  Distance: just a few blocks from the parking lot to the pools; you can hike anywhere from 1/4 mile to 3 miles (.4 to 4.8 Km) on footpaths  / Type:  loop trails  /  Trail:  rocky footpaths  / Exposure: extreme sun  / Rating: easy walk to the pools; other trails on the hillsides have very challenging stone steps

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Huayapam                                                  Countryside

November 24, 2017

Difficult option:  On this, the first of two simultaneous hikes on the same day,  we will scramble up the steep hillside on the north side of Huayapam on an old jeep road littered with loose rocks, cross over a ridge, then make a long, gradual descent to the two lakes which provide water for the towns of Huayapam and Tlalixtac. The uphill section will certainly challenge your cardiovascular system! As with the easier outing (below), this is hiking for its own sake; fun, but with an edge! Both hiking groups will rendezvous for lunch at one of the pleasant restaurants on the lakeshore.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance:  6.0 Km (3.8 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  500 M (1600 Ft) up & 600 M (1970 Ft) down  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  rough jeep road & footpaths  / Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating: difficult

Moderate option:  This second of two simultaneous hikes originating in Huayapam, a small village near Oaxaca favored by many resident expats, is a moderate stroll along dirt roads and single track hiking trails that link with San Luis Beltran and San Felipe del Agua. There are some pleasant views of the Oaxaca Valley along the way on this out-and-back walk through rolling terrain, but nothing of historical or cultural interest. This is hiking for its own sake. Both hiking groups will rendezvous for lunch at one of the pleasant restaurants on the lakeshore.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance:  6.76 Km (4.2 Mi)  /  Elevation change: 151.5 meters (497 feet) gain & loss  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail:  dirt road & footpaths  /  Exposure:  full sun  / Rating: easy

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Huitzo Hills                                                 Cultural & Countryside                    

December 19 & 22, 2017

Huitzo sits at the extreme northern end of the Etla valley about midway between Oaxaca city and Nochixtlan. The town is quite proud of the Spanish convent in the city center, which the local population restored and maintains without government financing. We will visit the monastery as we pass through town. Next we will visit the excellent studio of famed local artist, Enrique Flores, who is invariably a gracious host. Huitzo has lovely rolling hill country nearby which offers some great opportunities for hiking. 

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  4.8 km (3.0 miles) /  Elevation change:  up to 214 meters (700 feet)  /  Highest elevation: 2305 meters (7563 feet)  / Type:  out & back /  Trail:  wide dirt road  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  / Rating:  moderate

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Jalapa del Valle                                        Countryside 

Not scheduled this season. 

Mountain bikers love to ride through the rolling countryside in the Etla Valley west of Oaxaca. This hike will explore one section of that area. There are actually two parts to today’s outing — the hike itself, and the bus ride to get there. We are going to take the scenic route to the starting point of the hike, which entails a rather significant climb from the floor of the Etla Valley to San Cristobal. The switchbacks on the road and the elevation gain along the way will give everyone a wonderful view of Oaxaca and its environs. Just don’t forget to take your motion-sickness pills!  Once over the top, the bus will snake down the other side of the mountain to the Rio Jalapilla. Our hike will consist of following the dirt road parallel to the river downhill through Cienequilla and on to Jalapa del Valle. The river valley is surprisingly lush year ‘round, and the farms in the area produce several crops each season. After reaching Jalapa del Valle, we’ll reboard the bus and take a shorter, less arduous route home. Sack lunch required. Motion sickness alert! The ride to the trailhead for today’s hike may induce dizzyness. 

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance:  8.0 Km (5.0 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  354 M (1161 Ft) downhill & just 79 M (260 Ft) going up   /  Type: point to point  /  Trail:  all dirt road  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  /  Rating:  easy

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La Cumbre                                                   Mountain

March 23, 2018

The World Wildlife Fund maintains a forest preserve that extends nearly 24 Km from La Cumbre to Santa Catarina Ixtepeji in the mountains just north of Oaxaca. Dense woods cover the steep hillsides throughout. Old logging roads wend their way, maintaining tolerable gradients by following the contour of the land. The forest is a great place to find solitude and observe the various birds and plants that make it their home. There is a 40 peso admission charge. Guides are available, if desired. Sack lunch required. Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from La Cumbre may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  8.2 Km (5.1 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  305 M (1003 Ft) gain & loss  /  Type: out & back /  Trail:  footpath & dirt road  /  Exposure:  mainly forest shade  /  Rating:  moderate to difficult  /  Highest point:  3212 meters (10,540 feet)

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Lachatao                                                      Overnight                     

December 2 & 3, 2017.

The ecotourism camp in Lachatao in the Sierra Norte mountains north of Oaxaca city is a pleasant place to spend a quiet weekend. There are opportunities to hike, mountain bike or go horseback riding. The most interesting place to visit is the extensive ruins of the gold mines of the Cinco Señores and Socorro haciendas, where you will find the remains of numerous buildings, aqueducts and both vertical and horizontal water wheels which once powered the mine operations. There is also a significant unexcavated temple site on a nearby mountaintop, which is said to predate Monte Alban and is used by villagers for ceremonies marking the spring and autumnal equinoxes. Lastly, the hiking trail linking Lachatao to Latuvi is perhaps the loveliest of all the trails in the Pueblos Mancomunados. Lachatao sits at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet and so has notably cooler temperatures. Be sure to dress appropriately.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Lachatao may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am Saturday through 5 pm on Sunday  /  Hikes along dirt roads or on footpaths through the forest to nearby villages or the scenic ruins of old mines  / Hike distances vary, as does the difficulty of the terrain  / Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  / Rating: moderate to difficult


La Neveria to Latuvi                                 Mountain

January 30 & February 2, 2018. 

If hiking downhill is your cup of tea, then this outing is for you! This combination of hiking path and dirt road leads from La Neveria to Latuvi, both villages in the Pueblos Mancomunados, dropping 539 meters in elevation and crossing the Rio Guacamayas along the way. The hike is rated difficult because of the terrain and the length of the walk. Native guides are required, and there is a 60 peso admission fee. Sack lunch required.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to La Neveria and back from Latuvi may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 6 pm  /  Distance:  6.8 miles (10.95 km)  /  Elevation change:  downhill to river crossing 1770 feet (539.5 meters); then up 790 feet (241 meters) to Latuvi  /  Highest elevation:  8980 feet (2737 meters)  / Type:  point to point /  Trail: mix of dirt road and forest path  /  Exposure:  Mostly shade  /  Rating: moderate to difficult

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Latuvi to Lachatao

Not scheduled this season

Latuvi is a Zapotec village situated at 8003 feet (2439 meters) atop a mountain ridge in the Sierra Norte 58 kilometers (36 miles) northeast of Oaxaca city. It is one of the eight small towns in the Pueblos Mancomunados and offers several trails which appeal to hikers, backpackers and mountain bikers. Cabins are available for overnight guests. There is a fee of 60 pesos to get permission to explore the area, and guides are available to take visitors through the woods. The three principal trails are one that runs through the woods to La Neveria, another that connects with Lachatao, and a third which leads to a scenic waterfall. The trail to Lachatao goes 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) and runs mainly downhill, except for the final segment going from the river valley up to Lachatao. A hike on this route may be either one-way or an out & back trek to avoid needing to arrange a shuttle. Be warned that the trail out of Latuvi drops steeply down the mountainside (with a gradient of 19% to 21%) and is badly eroded. It is a challenging descent and a lung-burner on the climb back up!

Time frame:  9 am to 6 pm  /  Distance for out & back hike:  14 kms (8.7 miles) round trip to half-way point  /  Elevation change: 621 meters (2037 feet) down and up on out & back  /  Highest elevation: 2439 meters (8003 feet)  /  Lowest point: 2093 meters (6868 feet)  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail:  mostly foot path through the woods  /  Exposure:  mix of sun and deep forest shade  /  Rating:  difficult because of steepness of trail and length of hike

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Llano Grande                                             Mountain                     

February 27 & March 2,  2018  –  Day hikes

The small village of Llano Grande in the Sierra Norte mountains is a bit like the Hobbit village in Middle Earth – it is a place with a special charm. One of the eight villages in the Pueblos Mancomunados, Llano Grande welcomes hikers and mountain bikers to explore the trails and back roads that wander through the dense forests surrounding the community.  There is an admission fee of 60 pesos and native guides must be hired to guide visitors through the woods. Sack lunch required.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Llano Grande may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 5 pm  /  Distance:  8.85 km (5.5 miles)  /  Elevation change:  145 meters (475 feet)  /  Highest elevation:  3070 M (10,071 Ft)  / Type:  Loop  /  Trail:  mix of dirt road and forest path  /  Exposure:  Mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: moderate

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Llano Grande                                             Overnight                        

January 6 & 7, 2018  –  Note that this is a two-day weekend overnight trip

Of all the places in the Pueblos Mancomunados, Llano Grande has the most rustic feel and the lushest rain forest. At over 10,000 feet (3046 meters) in altitutude, it is also the highest. Hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are the chief outlets for those looking for some exercise; reading or wandering about the village are occupations that appeal to the more sedentary visitor. The staff at the ecotourism camp will be happy to help you enjoy your weekend stay in the community.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from Llano Grande may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am Saturday through 5 pm on Sunday  /  Hikes along dirt roads or on footpaths through the lush forest, along creeks and to a scenic mountaintop overlook or a cascada  / Hike distances vary, as does the difficulty of the terrain  / Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  / Rating: moderate to difficult


Mitla Caves                                                   Archeological & Countryside

Not scheduled this season.

One might argue this is by far our longest hike — if measured by going back in time rather than in physical distance traveled. Elementary school kids are taught that the cradle of modern civilization is the Mesopotamian valley between the Tigris and Euphrates river where ancient Sumer was located. This is where wheat, barley, lentils, garlic and onions were domesticated 7,000 years ago, marking the beginning of the agricultural age. However, archeologists now know that the caves around Yagul and Mitla were occupied 7,000 years ago by people who had already domesticated corn and beans, as corn cobs and bean seeds were found there. And the great granddaddy of them all — domesticated squash — has been dated in local caves to 10,000 years ago! On today’s outing we will visit five caves located in hillsides just 3 miles (4.8 kms) from Mitla which were likely used as shelters by the forebears of today’s Zapotec people.  There is an admission fee of 40 pesos per person and local guides must be hired through the “Bienes Comunales” office near the municipal building on the square in Mitla. The group will stop for lunch at the central market in Tlacolula after the hike.

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  2.65 kms (1.65  miles) round trip  /  Elevation gain & loss:  110 meters (365 feet)  /  Type:  loop trail  /  Trail:  faint hiking trail on steep hillsides with loose footing  /  Exposure:  mostly sun  /  Rating:  very difficult  — on account of terrain and close quarters in caves

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San Agustin Etla                                       Countryside

December 1, 2017

San Agustin is blessed with a ready supply of fresh water, which is captured from a mountain stream and channeled into the city in an aqueduct. We will hike along the aqueduct 3.2 miles uphill, gradually rising into one of the valleys nearby to the ruins of a hydroelectric plant built near the turn of the last century. While the hike has a very moderate gradient, it is 6.4 miles round trip, and there is no option to step off the trail and hail a cab if you tire. Still, this is one of our favorite outings. At the end of the hike, the Cultural Center in the old textile mill is well worth a visit, and it is free. The paper factory nearby is also an interesting place to visit. It is rumored that the community council may impose a fee to hike this trail. Sack lunch required.

Time frame:  9 am to 3:30 pm  /  Distance:  10.3 Km (6.4 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  350M (1150 Ft) gain & loss  /  Highest elevation:  1927 M (6321 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  / Trail:  footpath with some tricky crossings on narrow ridges  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  /  Rating: moderate

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San Bartolomé & San Marcos             Countryside

March 30, 2018

The quaint village of San Bartolomé Quiliana abuts the mountains on the south side of the Tlacolula valley. It and neighboring San Marcos Tlapazola seem lost in time. We will travel the road between them, doubtless catching sight of local women in their distinctive dress tending their flocks or working the the fields. In San Marcos, hikers can visit the workshops where red pottery is produced and others where local women embroider intricate designs on aprons, blouses and shirts. After the hike, the group will stop in Tlacolula to visit the church, where the statues, paintings and other ornaments in the elaborately baroque side chapel were restored in 2011. Then we will adjourn to the city market across the street for lunch at any of several food stands there.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:00 pm  /  Distance:  3.7 Km (2.3 Mi)  /  Elevation change: uphill 224 feet (68.3 meters) & downhill 372 feet (113 meters)  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  city streets and dirt roads  /  Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating: easy

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San Felipe del Agua Bike Trails         Countryside

Not scheduled this season.

You can go to www.OaxacaMTB.org for maps and information to schedule your own hike on these trails, which can be reached by taking the bus to San Felipe to the end of the line and then walking west on the never-finished Libramiento highway. 

San Felipe is home to many resident expats and very popular with local mountain bikers. The hills above the town have a network of trails that are great fun to explore by foot as well as on a bike. We will wander some of these pathways through the woods, going as far and as high as the group cares to. Note: these trails are not in Benito Juárez National Park, which may or may not be open, due to an ongoing land dispute. Sack lunch required. 

Time frame:  9 am to 2 pm  /  Distance:  5.5 Km (3.5 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  200 M (650 Ft.) gain & loss  /  Type:  loop trails  /  Trail:  mostly footpaths  /  Exposure: mainly full sun  / Rating:  moderate

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San Miguel del Valle                                     Mountain                           

March 16, 2018

San Miguel del Valle is another gateway to the high country of the Sierra Norte mountains. This village is tucked away in a fold of the mountains on the north side of the Tlacolula valley, and can be reached by going north from Tlocolula, through Diaz Ordaz and continuing upvalley. For this outing we will hike the “El Pedimento” trail in the forest at an elevation of 10,000 feet. Be prepared for cooler temperatures and the possibility of fog and drizzle. There is an admission fee of 50 pesos per person to hike on communal land, and local guides must be hired to accompany the group. There will be a lunch stop at a restaurant in Tlacolula on the way back to Oaxaca.  Motion sickness alert! The ride to and from the mountains above San Miguel del Valle may induce dizzyness.

Time frame:  9 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  2.9 Km (1.8 Mi) round trip  /  Elevation change:  183 M (600 Ft) gain & loss  /  Type:  loop  /  Trail:  forest paths  /  Exposure:  mix of sun and shade  / Rating: moderate to difficult – some steep sections at high elevation  /  Highest point:  3139 meters (10,300 feet)

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San Pablo Etla                                          Countryside            

January 2 & 5, 2018

The village of San Pablo is practically a suburb in the Etla valley on the north side of Oaxaca. Like most nearby towns, it has parklands in the hills rising above the city. This year our hike will follow one of the many trails in the area prized by local mountain bikers and used for an annual race.  The route will follow the contours of the land running at the foot of the mountains rising up on the north side of the town. Admission fee of 40 pesos. Sack lunch required.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance:  5.6 Km (3.5 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  180 M (590 Ft) gain & loss  /  Highest elevation:  1800 M (5905 Ft)  /  Type:  loop  / Trail: combination single track trail and dirt road  /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: moderate 

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San Sebastian de las Grutas                Cave

Not scheduled this season.

This is the most unusual of the hikes in the “Hoofing It In Oaxaca” program. We will drive 2.5 hours south of Oaxaca to San Sebastian, then visit the cavern in the hillside there. The cave is in its natural state, with no lighting, railings or walkways. Local guides will provide flashlights and show us the way (but it doesn’t hurt to bring your own lights, if you have them). The cave has wide passageways and a high ceiling, so it is relatively easy to negotiate. However, there are some steep inclines and the floor can be slippery when wet. There are also significant steps to get to and from the cavern. Admission to the cave will cost 40 pesos per person. Sack lunch required.

Time frame:  9 am to 5:30 pm  /  Distance:  3 Km (1.8 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  90 M (300 Ft)  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  unimproved cave floor  /  Exposure:  no sun (It’s a cave!)  /  Rating: moderate

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Santa Ana del Valle                                Countryside

Not scheduled this season.

The community museum in the town square in Santa Ana will be the starting point of this hike up a hill just outside town to the site of some unexcavated ruins. There is a very nice view of the Tlacolula valley from the top of the hill. Getting some fresh air and exercise is the main point of today’s venture. Be forewarned that the trail has a loose and rocky tread, and is perhaps the most difficult climb in the hiking program. We will need to hire local guides to accompany us to the top of the hill. After the hike the group will stop in Tlacolula for lunch at the food court in the city market.

Time frame:  9:00 am to 4:30 pm  /  Distance:  6.95 Km (4.32 Mi)  /  Elevation change:   493.5 M (1619 Ft) climb  /  High point:  2143.3 meters (7032 feet)  /  Type:  out & back  / Trail: steep, rocky footpath  /  Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating:  difficult because of steep, rocky trail

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Santo Domingo Tomaltepec                Countryside

February 6 & 9, 2018 

Today’s outing will be a trek that begins on a country road and then devolves into a footpath in a mountain valley near Santo Domingo. We will begin at the upper of two lakes which provide water for the town and wend our way gradually uphill into a wooded valley. No archeological gems or great vistas today; just a very pleasant walk with nature. Be forewarned that there are twenty stream crossings along the way, so wear shoes that can get wet and still be comfortable to walk in, or wear sandals and splash merrily through the water! After the hike, we will stop for lunch at a restaurant in Tule. There is a 20 peso charge to hike through communal property.

Time frame:  9 am to 4 pm  /  Distance:  10.0 Km (6.2 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  279 M (915 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail:  dirt road & footpath  /  Exposure: mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: easy to moderate  /  Suggestion: wear sandals for stream crossings

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Santo Tomas Tomaltepec to San Felipe Tejalápam                Countryside

Not scheduled this season. 

Both of these small farming communities lie in the northwest quadrant of the Etla Valley and neither see many foreign visitors, though they are not far from the capital city.  Our hike today is a 6.2 mile trek through the rolling countryside between the two villages. We will make use of some dirt roads, scramble through farm fields, walk along a stream and and then hike down a dry wash as we make our way from one town to the other. A sack lunch is required. 

Time frame:  9 am to 3:00 pm  /  Distance:   9.8 kms (6.2 miles)  /  Elevation change: 198 meters (651 feet) of climbing & 221 meters (725 feet) of downhill  /  Trail: mostly dirt roads, but also some scrambling through farm fields, along a stream and over some rough and rocky terrain  /  Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating:  moderate to difficult for length of hike and some challenging terrain.

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Tlalixtac                                                               Countryside            

March 9, 2018

Tlalixtac is a village in the countryside about 5.5 miles to the east of Oaxaca city. Blessed with large land holdings in the foothills and ample water supplies, Tlalixtac is popular with people looking for a place to build a home close to the capital but away from the traffic and noise of the big city.

We will hike in one of the nearby valleys that drain from the Sierra Norte mountains into the Tlacolula valley. The trail is mostly a footpath that wends uphill through the woods parallel to a stream and with Highway 175 on the hillside opposite. We are likely to encounter local woodcutters returning to town with their donkeys loaded with firewood. We will stop for lunch after the hike at one of the pleasant restaurants clustered around the two presas in Huayapam.

Time frame:  9 am to 2:30 pm  /  Distance: 10.0 Km (6.2 Mi)  /  Elevation gain: 135.8 M (445.5 Ft)  /  Type:  out & back  /  Trail:  dirt road and footpath  /  Exposure:  mix of sun & shade  /  Rating: easy to moderate  /  Coordinates:  N 17 04.771  W 96 37.667

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Union Zapata Caves                                  Archeological & Countryside

Not scheduled this season

There are literally dozens of caves in the hills to the north of the village of Union Zapata, which has been charged with protecting the most important ones because they are UNESCO world heritage sites (so designated in August 2010). These include the Guilá Naquitz cave, where archeologists unearthed signs of human habitation dating back over 10,000 years, and where squash seeds are the earliest signs of an agrarian culture anywhere on the continent. This same cave provided the earliest known samples of domesticated maize, the principal food crop of the region. Another nearby cave, Las Machines, contains some fine examples of ancient rock paintings. Hiking to these and other nearby caves is extremely difficult because of the steep terrain and the lack of well-defined trails. An admission fee of 40 pesos per person must be paid at the office in Union Zapata, and guides must be hired to take visitors to the caves. Sack lunch required. 

Time frame:  9 am to 6 pm  /  Distance:  10.0 km (6.2 miles)  /  Elevation gain & loss:  445 meters (1460 feet)  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail: dirt roads and ill-defined footpaths  /  Exposure:  mostly full sun  /  Rating:  extremely difficult because of terrain and length

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West Etla Valley                                     Countryside & Archeological

February 20 & 23, 2018

The scenic rolling hill country of the western Etla Valley harbors a number of roads and trails which are a delight to hike. This outing starts at a remote spot, follows a pleasant stream down a valley running to the southeast and eventually terminates at the ruins of the monastery in Cuilapam, begun in 1556 but never completed. You will enjoy the serene beauty of this agricultural area and the grace of the monastery ruins. After the hike we will stop for an impressive buffet lunch at the Hacienca Cuilapam before returning to Oaxaca. 

Time frame:  9 am to 4 pm  /  Distance:  7.7 Kms (4.8 Miles)  /  Elevation change:  gradual descent totaling 128 meters (420 feet)  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  mostly dirt road with two stream crossings  /  Exposure:  mix of sun and shade  /  Rating: easy

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Yagul to Diaz Ordaz                                Archeological & Countryside

November 10, 2017

The Zapotec palace ruins at Yagul are located in one of the loveliest settings in the area. The group will linger there for about an hour to afford people a chance to explore the archeological site. You will want to visit the underground triple tomb in one of the open plazas and wander the labyrinth of passageways in the palace complex. Most visitors will also want to climb to the top of the fortress rock to enjoy the view from there. In 2016 a new trail was opened leading to hollow beneath the fortress rock which provided shelter to early agriculturalists in the Oaxaca Valley 7,000 years ago. Then we will hike 4.4 miles  (7.1 kms) through open country to the village of Diaz Ordaz, where we will stop for lunch. Pack a sack lunch or munch on items from a local miscelanea, where cold beverages are available. The admission fee at Yagul, which is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm, is 65 pesos.

Time frame:  9 am to 3 pm  /  Distance:  7.1 Km (4.4 Mi)  /  Elevation change: practically none  /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  footpaths & dirt roads  /  Exposure: full sun  /  Rating: moderate

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Zaachila to Cuilapam                            Archeological & Countryside

December 12 & 15, 2017

We will spend about an hour exploring the archeological ruins located just a block off the town square in Zaachila. Most of the temple and palace complex has not been excavated. However the tomb of Lord Nine Flower has been, and there is a small museum on site. Then we will hike through town and overland in the countryside to Cuilapam, where we will wander through the ruins of a grand monastery, begun in 1555 but never completed. The admission fee to the archeological in Zaachila is 40 pesos; the same amount will gain you entrance to the cloister area of the monastery at Cuilapam, the second floor of which is used to identify, catalog and store artifacts taken from archeological digs in the area. The group will stop for lunch at the Hacienda Cuilapam, which offers an incredible all-you-can-eat buffet for 150 pesos, plus drinks.  Be sure to click on the “More Information” link, below, to view a great deal more material about the history and legends of Zaachila and Cuilapam.

Time frame:  9 am to 4 pm  /  Distance:  9.8 Km (6.1 Mi)  /  Elevation change:  very slight –  120 meters (395 feet) gain &  65 meters (214 feet) loss /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  city sidewalks & streets, unpaved roads  /  Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating:  moderate

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Zegache to Ocotlan                                  Cultural & Countryside                

November 3 at 11 am  –  Special “Day of the Dead” hike  –  Note unusual start time!

The renowned painter, Rodolfo Morales, hailed from Ocotlan de Morelos and used his wealth and influence for the betterment of that community some 21 miles (34 km) south of Oaxaca city. Today’s hike through the countryside will be a tribute to the artist. Our trek will begin at the parish church in Santa Ana Zegache, which Mr. Morelos restored and decorated; and it will end at the Rodolfo Morales Museum in the monastery in the heart of Ocotlan that he rebuilt and which now houses part of his art collection. Between those two points we will hike through farmland where many of the fields are planted with rose bushes and various other flowers one finds for sale in local markets. There is a 20 pesos admission fee at the museum. If time permits and the group is interested, we may visit the home and studio of Mr. Morales, which is located just a block or so north of the town square. Admission to the home and studio is free. 

Day of the Dead special feature!  The cemetery in San Antonino will be a busy place on Friday, November 3 as families decorate the graves of their loved ones with elaborate flower arrangements or sand paintings. People on today’s hike will spend an hour or so visiting the cemetery, which lies along the way to Ocotlan.  Note that this HIKE is not the same event as the Lending Library’s cemetery bus tour happening on the same day!

Time frame:  11:00 am to 6:00 pm / Distance: 6.0 miles (9.6 km) / Elevation change: very slight, with 257 feet (78 meters) of gain and 125 feet (38 meters) of loss along the route / Type: point to point / Trail: mostly dirt roads in the country and pavement in the city / Exposure: full sun / Rating: easy

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Zegache to Tilcajete                                        Cultural & Countryside                       

February 13 & 16, 2018

The little village of San Martín Tilcajete, 15.5 mi / 25 km south of Oaxaca city, is where most of the fanciful wooden alebrijes which abound in local markets are carved and painted.  It is the destination for today’s hike, which begins in the neighboring village of Zegache, 3 miles (4.8 km) distant across productive farmland where many of the vegetables sold in Oaxaca’s markets are grown. For its part, Zegache is home to a church rebuilt and painted by the renowned artist Rodolfo Morales of Ocotlan. Today’s hike will commence at the restored church and then proceed on unpaved country lanes.  The terrain is nearly flat, with a gain in elevation of only 191 feet along the way.  Once arrived in Tilcajete, we’ll pay a visit to some of the many workshops lining the main street where locals (often husband & wife teams) produce alebrijes. Afterwards, we will stop for lunch at a local restaurant on the way back to Oaxaca.

Mardi Gras special feature!  Those on the Tuesday hike will get a special treat, as they will encounter costumed residents of Tilcajete parading through the streets in celebration of Shrove Tuesday.  You will definitely want to bring your camera for this!

Time frame:  9 am to 4:00 pm  /  Distance: 4.8 Km (3.0 Mi)  /  Elevation change: 58 M (191 Ft) gain /  Type:  point to point  /  Trail:  city streets & dirt roads   /  Exposure:  full sun  /  Rating: easy.

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Hike Sign-Up

To sign up for one or more of the above hikes, go to the “Hike Sign-up” page.  Follow the directions posted there. A non-refundable payment of $5.00 USD per day hike is required at the time reservations are made, payable via PayPal. Reservations for our weekend overnight hikes require a non-refundable deposit of $10.00 USD. Hike reservations may also be made at the front desk of the Lending Library, with the same reservation fees due when signing up. 

Approximately one week before the scheduled hike you will receive another e-mail containing additional information about that particular outing.

Since many of our hikes are “sold out,” please be sure to cancel your reservation if your plans change so that someone else will have the opportunity to take your place.