Over 100km of trails link the eight villages. You can spend one afternoon or up to four days wandering at will. If you're short on time, the 3½-hour walk between Benito Juárez and Cuajimoloyas on the Needa-Naa-Lagashxi trail includes a visit to El Mirador, a craning lookout tower perched high above the village; the Piedra Larga, a giant rock you can scramble up to for views of Pico Orizaba on a clear day; and a bouncy suspension bridge across a ravine.
Other good day walks include the Ruta Loma de Cucharilla from Cuajimoloyas to Latuvi (about six hours, nearly all downhill), and two ancient tracks leading on from Latuvi: the Camino Real to San Juan Chicomezúchil and Amatlán, and the beautiful Latuvi–Lachatao canyon trail passing through cloud forests festooned with bromeliads and hanging mosses (keep your eyes peeled for trogons on this route).
Using a basic map available from Expediciones Sierra Norte, it is possible to hike on your own, but beware: signposting is sometimes lacking.
Welcome to mountain-biking paradise. Cycling routes meander between all eight villages. Of note is the Circuito Taurino Mecinas Ceballos, a 30km circuit linking Benito Juárez, Latuvi and La Nevería. Another possibility is the Ruta Ka-Yezzi-Daa-Vii, a 28km (one way) ride between Cuajimoloyas and Lachatao. Beware of rough and steep sections. Reasonable bike-handling skills are essential.
Bike rental is available in Benito Juárez and Cuajimoloyas for M$120 for three hours (M$250 with a guide).
Horseback riding is an adventurous and highly satisfying way of exploring the Sierra Norte. Costs are M$235/350/465 per three/four/five hours. Horseback Mexico offers a seven-day trek between the villages for M$2490 including transportation from Oaxaca.
A spectacular 1km-long zip-line (M$235) starts on the slopes of 3200m-high Yaa-Cuetzi and carries you over the rooftops of the village of Cuajimoloyas at speeds reaching 65km/h.
There's another shorter zip-line circuit (three cables) in Benito Juárez costing M$150 per person.