The Teuchitlán River Bicycle Route
For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the Teuchitlán River from fish
experts in various parts of the world. Apparently it is not unusual to find
websites in Russian, Korean, Polish or Japanese discussing Ameca splendens,
a little fish that comes from this river. We, however, who live less than an
hour away, had never actually seen the celebrated Teuchitlán River and one day
we decided to go look for it.
We drove to Teuchitlán, parked near the restaurants famous for frog’s legs, walked across the highway and there it was, the surprisingly picturesque Teuchitlán River. Even more surprising, we found a very elegant walkway (andador) alongside the river. So, of course, we followed it upstream and were amazed again and again at the serene beauty of this river, which is a mere two kilometers long.
Ameca splendens: Teuchitlán's Rare Fish
When we drew near the main source of the river, Balneario El Rincon, we spotted plenty of small fish with a bright yellow stripe on their tail. These are male Ameca splendens, members of a family of live-bearing fish called Splitfins (Goodeidae) many of which are endemic to this part of Mexico. Ameca splendens was declared extinct not so many years ago, but when some of them were found alive and well (in the pools at the Vega Dam restaurants, of all places), interested parties in England and Mexico began a project to establish a fish sanctuary right on the banks of the Teuchitlán River (See Dibble's Ark: An Englishman Battles to Save Mexico’s Unique Fish).
Eventually, we met the man who constructed the river walkway, Enrique Meza, President of Teuchitlán. “We’ve extended this trail another two kilometers on the other side of the highway,” stated Meza. “You ought to take a look at it.”
Bird Watching at La Vega Lake
To our delight, we discovered that this southern portion of the walkway takes you through a totally different environment, along the shoreline of La Vega Dam. In fact, you have water on both sides of the pathway most of the time and here we easily spotted nine different kinds of birds, including white egrets, jacanas (which walk on lily pads), ibises, anhingas, cormorants, etc. This part of the trail leads you to the southern end of a small town called Estanzuela where friends could pick you up in case you want to do the four-kilometer trail one way.
This combination walking-biking-horseback-riding trail starts at the foot of the road leading up to Teuchitlán’s famous Guachimontones (circular pyramids) and follows the river downstream to Jalisco highway 4 where, unfortunately, you must walk about 35 meters north along the road to get to where the restaurants are. Once you have passed all the restaurants, you are back on a no-car trail again. When you come to a chain across the trail, go forward another 200 meters. When you see a big planter, you have completed the four kilometers and are at the end of the trail. You can now turn around and head back or, if you prefer to be dropped off at the beginning and picked up at the end, you can follow the instructions below. We found the trail nice and quiet on a Sunday morning, but you may be blasted by few radios in the afternoon.