Oaxaca is a beautiful region filled with delicious local food, authentic Mexican culture and of course it’s a great place to go hiking! This is my Oaxaca, Mexico hiking guide packed with lots of helpful information on my favorite state in Mexico.
Hierve El Agua
Hierve El Agua is a series of petrified waterfalls near the town of San Lorenzo. The water here consists of high concentrations of calcium carbonate and other minerals in the water. As the water ‘cascades’ 0ver the cliff the excess minerals are deposited which lead to the formation of these petrified waterfalls. Hierve El Agua is one of two petrified waterfalls in the world with the other being Pamukkale, which is located near Denizli, Turkey.
Take a bus heading to Mitla from the 2nd Class Bus Terminal (20 pesos). If you’re located a bit north of the central area, you can also catch this bus at the baseball stadium (Estadio Eduardo Vasconcelos). In Mitla, you have two options which both cost 50 pesos. The first option is hopping on the back of the truck marked ‘Hierve El Agua’ which will take you directly to the natural site. The second option is taking a truck marked San Lorenzo (the closest town to Hierve El Agua) for 25 pesos. Once in San Lorenzo, flag down a tuk-tuk to take you to Hierve El Agua for 25 pesos.
My only tip for Hierve El Agua is to hike down to the bottom of the petrified falls. Not only do you get some amazing views from the top but you also get some pretty cool views from the bottom. Unfortunately, not every visitor to Hierve El Agua goes to this section. It’s definitely worth the effort to do some exploring down there even if there’s super hot weather. The full loop along the bottom takes around 40 minutes to complete.
Sierra Norte (Pueblos Mancomunados)
Pueblos Mancomunados is a series of eight Zapotec towns in the heart of Sierra Norte mountains. Each town works together to provide visitors the opportunity to explore this beautiful area on a variety of winding trails that connect all the towns.
What makes this area so hiker friendly is it’s not necessary to pack a ton of stuff. Each town has comfortable cabanas for travelers at great rates and a comedor serving delicious local food at very cheap prices. It’s an excellent opportunity to support authentic ecotourism because all the money spent here goes straight to the local communities.
Here is important bus information from Oaxaca’s 2nd class bus terminal (located on Calle Margarita Maza near Mercado Abastos) which is the cheapest way to get to Pueblos Mancomunados. Departure times and prices are subject to change. Click this link for details and contact information of all bus lines departing from Oaxaca’s 2nd class terminal.
Cuajimoloyas/Llano Grande: Daily Departures at 8:00 am, 12:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. Cost is 25 pesos to Cuajimoloyas (2 hours) and 30 pesos to Llano Grande (2.5 hours). There is also a van service with daily departures to both destinations at 7:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm which cost 50 pesos.
Benito Juarez: Tuesday, Friday and Saturday Departure at 4:00 pm. Cost is 25 pesos (2 hours). The bus to Oaxaca leaves at 5:00 am on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday as well as 3:00 pm on Sunday.
Latuvi: Friday Departure at 4:00 pm. Cost is 30 pesos (2.5 hours). The bus to Oaxaca leaves at 4:00 am on Friday.
Lachatao: Daily Departure at 4:00 pm. Cost is 30 pesos (2.5 hours). The bus to Oaxaca leaves daily at 5:00 am.
Amatlan: Daily Departure at 4:00 pm. Cost is 25 pesos (2.5 hours). The bus to Oaxaca leaves daily at 5:15 am.
The easiest way to get to these towns is by hiring private transport (usually a pickup truck). Expect to pay 200-250 pesos per person to any of the destinations listed above. It’s important to note La Neveria and Yavesia don’t have direct public transport to and from Oaxaca. Your only options for reaching these two towns are to hike there, hitch a ride or hire private transport. Transfers to any of the eight towns in Pueblos Mancomunados can be organized in Oaxaca city through the Sierra Norte office located on Calle de Manuel Bravo. However, if you are traveling as a group, it’s also possible to organize pickup/dropoff at your hostel.
Visitors can spend up to 5 or 6 days hiking between all eight towns in the Sierra Nortes. However, if you only have a day or two, these are the hikes I recommend.
Cuajimoloyas to Benito Juarez: This is one of the most popular hikes to do in the area. It provides excellent views of the Oaxaca valley as it takes you down into the countryside before coming back up into the pretty town of Benito Juarez. This 7 km hike takes 2-3 hours to complete.
La Neveria to Latuvi: I completed this hike with Hoofing It In Oaxaca and really enjoyed it. It takes you up and down through the forest until you reach a river at the halfway point. From there, you follow the winding road which gives you a beautiful view of the surrounding area as you enter Latuvi. This 11 km hike takes 3-4 hours to complete.
Latuvi to Lachatao: This is definitely the best hike in Oaxaca. Hikers begin by descending down before meeting a river at the bottom. The path continues along the river as it snakes its way through a canyon and forested area with stunning views. The hike finishes with a climb back up and amazing views of multiple towns as you enter Lachatao. This 16 km hike takes 5-6 hours to complete.
The central Oaxaca valley is a truly beautiful part of the country that makes for an easy day trip from Oaxaca city. Teotilan del Valle and San Miguel del Valle are probably most well known in Oaxaca for producing textiles. This is the best place to go and buy an authentic Oaxaca rug. However, there are also a few excellent places to go hiking in this area.
Take any bus going to Tlacolula or Mitla from the 2nd class bus terminal. As mentioned before, these buses also stop at the baseball stadium. Depending on where you are going, the bus should cost anywhere from 10 pesos (stopping at the turnoff to Teotitlan del Valle) or 15 pesos to Tlacolula.
There is a direct bus to and from Teotitlan del Valle (13 pesos) but it tends to be infrequent and most people just tend to take a shared taxi (5 pesos) to the turnoff and catch an Oaxaca-bound bus from there. If you are heading to San Miguel del Valle, you can catch a bus leaving from the 2nd class terminal every 10-15 minutes from 6:00 am-9:00 pm.
Teotitlan del Valle: The top of El Picacho has some of the best views of the Oaxaca valley. Walk towards the reservoir on the north side of town. Hikers should begin to see signs for El Picacho once arriving at the water’s edge. El Picacho is the shorter of the peaks you can hike but it has the best views. You can also hike up to the higher peak (which you can see in the picture) that has some unexcavated ruins at the top. However, those views are pretty obstructed. A hike up to both peaks and back down to the reservoir takes around 4 hours.
San Miguel del Valle: For someone looking for more challenging hikes, my recommendations are a canyon called Cueva de la Iglesia or a viewpoint called El Carrizal. It is best to hire a local guide in San Miguel del Valle or Llano Grande who can take you to these areas. Each hike should take around 5 hours to complete.
Both of these websites provide excellent information (in Spanish) on ecotourism in Oaxaca and the Pueblos Mancomundos.
If you love hiking in Mexico, check out my other blog post about 6 Stunning Hikes in Central Mexico!