Caribbean National Forest
This is an excellent trail for first-time visitors. It is short and easy to hike. Combined with the lower section of the El Yunque Trail, it provides a nice one-mile loop that returns you to the starting point.
A short, level, paved section will lead you to the Baqo de Oro bathing complex. Originally built as a swimming pool in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), now it is only for viewing. From there you will continue to hike on a gravel trail through giant palms, orchids and bromeliads. You will pass many stream crossings and have the opportunity to enjoy the quiet sounds of running water among the jumbled rocks, and birds whistling as you view the lushness of the vegetation. As you hike see if you can catch a glimpse of one or more of the old fish hatchery tanks. Built of stone, some have a circular shape. These tanks represent a failed attempt to breed and introduce trout, an exotic cold water species, into the tropical forest.
When you reach the El Yunque Trail junction, turn to the right to return to Palo Colorado, your starting point. A left turn takes you up the El Yunque Trail (#15) to some of the highest elevations of the rain forest.
Length: 0.5 mile. Trail begins at 650 meters above sea level (2,112 feet) at PR 191, Km. 12.0 and ends at 750 meters above sea level (2,437 feet). A total of approximately 1 mile including the return portion of the El Yunque Trail.
Directions: Park at Palo Colorado Visitor Information Center parking lot (between Km. 11.8 and 11.9), cross the street and walk about 200' south of the parking lot to Km. 12.0. Look for the trailhead sign.
Trail Information: Mostly paved
Difficulty Level: Easy (10 percent average gradient)
Use: Heavily used
Hiking Time: 30 minutes
Preparations: Rainshowers occur frequently; therefore trails are often wet and slippery. Hiking boots with sturdy soles are recommended as well as light raingear. Bring plenty of water.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication