Pinar de la Venta, located eight kilometers west of Guadalajara along highway 15, was once an integral part of the sprawling Bosque de la Primavera, but about 40 years ago, it was turned into a Fraccionamiento Campestre (rustic housing development) and today is home to some 300 families. Of course, no one ever informed the animals, birds and invertebrates living in Pinar that they are outside the boundaries of the forest, so it’s not unusual for Pinareños to find the likes of foxes, possums, coatis and ringtails in their back yards, tarantulas, vinegaroons and rattlesnakes on their porches, motmots, cuckoos and “Tequila bats” visiting their bird feeders and gangs of Acorn Woodpeckers stealing peanuts meant for squirrels.
Best of all, there are large swaths of publicly and federally owned land as well as numerous empty lots where nature still runs wild.
Over the years, I have had the privilege and pleasure of wandering along trails through these “undeveloped” areas and one day I asked myself whether it might not be possible to link these paths into a circular route which would allow local people and visitors to hike through this community without setting foot on any of its cobblestone roads.
Well, I can’t say I found a way to entirely avoid walking on paved roads, but eventually I did trace out a three-kilometer loop over carpets of pine needles, past oak trees full of holes (stuffed with acorns by those woodpeckers), through grassy meadows dotted with wildflowers, alongside wonderfully deep barrancas and past easy-to-miss lookout points offering views of majestic hills and even a glimpse of Tequila Volcano in the distance.