This photo is taken from the top of the El Yunque trail.
El Yunque -Pronounced (el joon-keh) is the only Tropical Rainforest in the US and compromises over 28,000 acres in our north east section of the island. You can see it’s peaks from our property and its only a short drive from our guest house. El Yunque offers over 20 miles of well maintained trails, several waterfalls, many natural swimming pools, picnic areas, and a beautiful visitors center. With rainfall averaging over 200 inches a year you will be surrounded in lush vegetation. From huge ferns, orchids, inpatients the size of large shrubs, Colorado trees (nesting sites for the endangered Puerto Rican parrot) and Sierra Palms, you will be awed by the natural beauty. Walk the trails and feel the cool humid forest air, listen to the songs of our beloved coqui frogs, enjoy a picnic lunch on a boulder overlooking a waterfall. No matter if it’s a short hike or a day long excursion, you will be rewarded by the peaceful beauty of this forest. Make sure to wear or bring your swim suit as there is nothing better then a refreshing dip under one of the waterfalls after your hike. Even though the trails are maintained be sure to wear good non skid hiking or walking shoes as the trails can be slick. Admission to the forest is free, but a stop to the visitor's center is $3 for parking (you do not need to stop here to hike the trails). The National Forest Service has done a fabulous job with the visitor center. Even if you have physical limitations that would prohibit you from hiking the trails, the visitor center has built a beautiful suspended walkway from the parking area to the center which gives you a fantastic impression of the forest. You can buy maps, talk to forest rangers and look through and view the wonderful displays that help to explain this unique ecosystem... There are refreshments and a gift shop at the center and all proceeds go to maintaining the informational displays/programs and visitor's center.
***For current visitor information, park announcements and special alerts you can follow El Yunque National Forest on TWITTER (click on orange text to be redirected)
La Mina Falls This is by far the most popular trail at El Yunque. Because of its popularity this trail and its falls and swimming holes can get crowded. We recommend getting here early (8-9AM) and beating the crowds. This trail is about 0.7 miles in length however it is rated as difficult (it's really not that bad). You start at an elevation of about 2100 feet and go down to about 1600 feet (remember you must come up). The trail is well maintained but there are several sets of winding concrete stairs. These can be slick with moss, so watch your footing. The trail ends at the falls where you will come to natural swimming pools set among the rocks and boulders under a 35 ft cascading waterfall. Click on the La Mina link above for detailed trail information
Mt Britton Trail This is also a very popular trail for visitors to El Yunque. The trail is mostly paved and the difficulty rating level goes from easy to difficult. The trail is about 0.8 miles in length and will take about 45 minutes one way.
The last portion of the trail leads steeply upward through the cloud forest to the Mt Britton Tower. You can climb the stone steps to the top of the tower for fantastic views on a clear day.
El Yunque Trail This trail is rated as challenging however it is much less traveled and the views will be breathtaking when the cloud cover breaks (usually best in the morning as by afternoon the clouds will once again set in. Even if there is cloud cover and mist, many times if you just wait awhile they will lift and give you an incredible view). The photo at the top of the page was taken from the top of this trail. When we first arrived it was misting and we were completely in the clouds (this was very refreshing after the hike up). After a few minutes the clouds started to clear and we were treated with an amazing vista.
You can catch this trail at the Mt Britton/El Yunque spur.
Special tip-If you take the service road instead of the trail it will cut about 30 minutes one way from the hike and will be an easier hike)
El Toro Trail- If you really want to see how the Atlantic Ocean merges with the Caribbean Sea, get ready to hike the El Toro Trail/Trade Winds National Recreational Trail. The trail head is located at PR 186, at the northwest entrance of the Forest. After an approximately three hour hike you will be one of the few who has reached the highest peak in the Luquillo Mountains, El Toro Peak. El Toro Trail connects with the Trade Winds National Recreational Trail. (This trail can get very muddy during the rainy season). Unique flora and fauna cover these areas. Access to this trail is also available through the Trade Winds entrance at PR 191 km. 13.3.
Special tip: Unless you are an experienced hiker, we recommend that you do this hike with Richard Druitt who leads private hikes to the rainforest. This will be a challenging, long, full day hike.
Other good sources for trail information can be found on GORP
Rainforest Facts can be found on the USDA forest service site
Ranger Guided Trips- From the Palo Colorado Visitor Center the rangers run Forest Adventure tours between 10:30am-3:30pm. They will give a tailor guided introduction tour to the highlights of El Yunque depending on your area of interest (flora fauna, birds, etc..) They fee is under $5 but generally they need a group of at least 5-6 persons.
Private Guide-Richard Druitt is available as a private guide for our guests. Hikes can be customized based on the groups interest. Richard can do 1/2 day and full day hikes. General forest hikes to challenging "off the beaten path" hikes. Richard has extensive knowledge of the rainforest and a wonderful sense of humor. He knows of many private natural swimming pools and great trails. 1/2 day hikes run from $100 for up to four persons with additional persons at $25. Full day hikes run from $200 for up to four person with additional persons at $50.
Richard can be reached at 787-404-8452 or via e-mail.
Birding Guides- Some of the BEST bird watching hikes are offered through Aventourspr . If you are serious about finding and seeing the birds of the rainforest, this is the group to contact. They will show you how to spot the birds based on their calls and they know the areas where the birds can be sighted.
- Wear only non skid shoes with good threads and rubber soles. The trails can be slick from mist and moss. (Believe it or not you will see people wearing flip flops and heeled shoes on these trails!)
- Bring plenty of water to drink. The high humidity opens your pores and you will be easily dehydrated. Sip fluids throughout your hike even if you don't "feel" thirsty. If you feel thirsty you are already on your way to being dehydrated
- Leave river areas immediately and head toward higher ground during heavy downpours. Always be alert to the water levels. Even if it is not raining a slow rise in water level usually precedes a flash flood
- If you are doing the more difficult or longer trails it may be wise to use a hiking stick and bring along some snacks or lunch
- Stay on trails unless you are with a guide. There are many accidents each year and many persons do get lost
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