Caribbean National Forest


There are currently 24.3 miles of recreation trails and 12 miles of administrative trails on the Forest. All trails are designated for foot travel only. No trails currently accommodate wheelchair use. The Forest has very limited suitability for the development of horseback or mountain bike trails because of steep slopes, wet unstable soils. High rainfall and the year-round growing season result in the need for intensive trail maintenance. Many trails require maintenance two times per year to keep them open and to prevent erosion. Trails receiving more than light use must be surfaced to keep them from becoming muddy trenches. Relocation of some trail sections is necessary to avoid landslides, unsuitable soil conditions, or conflicts with other resources, and to improve hiking opportunities.

Some of the highlights include El Toro/Tradewinds National Recreation Trail, which cross the proposed El Cacique Wilderness Area. These trails cross through the four distinct vegetation types found on the Forest (tabonuco, palo colorado, palm and dwarf). Trail heads are located on Highway 191 at km. 13.5 and on Highway 186 at km. 10.6. Big Tree Trail exemplifies the Tabonuco forest (true rainforest) where many large trees can be seen. It is located at km 10.4 on Highway 191. La Mina Trail  passes through an area that used to host honeymoon cottages to a verdant tropical waterfall under which you can take a shower. El Yunque Trail climbs to the hill crest at 3,500 feet for a spectacular view of the forest down to the Atlantic Ocean. The Mount Britton Trail is another climber, from rain forest through the cloud forest to an interesting observatory. If you want to take it easy, the Baqo de Oro Trail , which means "golden pool," starts at a now viewing-only swimming pool constructed in the 1930s and makes a mile loop through the Palm Forest. The even shorter El Caimitillo Trail starts at the same place, and saunters for a pleasant half mile.

The current trail system is composed primarily of short trail segments. Few loop opportunities exist. Several trails depend on hazardous road segments to connect sections of trails or to provide a return route to the trailhead.

Few trails have developed trailheads with adequate or safe parking. Use of trails that do have adequate parking and well-marked trailheads, such as Big Tree Trail, is heavy.

The limitations of the trail system play a large role in the suppression of backcountry recreation use. Opportunities exist to improve user safety and enjoyment through improvements to the system, such as constructing connecting links between trails to provide loops, providing some longer trails outside the developed recreation zone, and constructing and improving trailheads.

Not all areas of the Forest are suitable for trail development. Reasons to manage areas without recreation trails include the protection of primary forest and sensitive vegetation, endangered species recovery, and the protection of Research Natural Areas.

Here's the rundown... Oh, and before you head out, don't forget the insect repellent.

El Yunque Trails

Trail Name Number Difficulty Length Development
Rio Chiquito 1 M 0.9 2 3
Rio Sabana 6 M 1.0 2 3
Angelito 7 E 0.4 3 3
La Coca 8 M 1.8 2 2
Carrillo 9 M 1.9 2 3
Tabonuco 10 D 0.3 1 2
Bisley 11 M 1.1 2 2
La Mina 12 M 0.7 4 3
Big Tree 13 M 0.9 4 3
Arboretum 14 M 0.2 2 3
El Yunque 15 M 2.6 3 2
Mt. Britton 16 M 0.8 3 2
Los Picachos 17 M 0.2 2 2
Caimitillo 18 E 0.5 4 4
Mt. Britton Spur 19 E 0.8 3 2
Grand A 21 M 1.0 2 2
Grand B 22 M 0.8 2 2
Rio de la Mina 24 M 0.5 2 2
Baqo de Oro 25 E 0.2 4 3
El Toro 34 D 2.2 2 2
Tradewinds 35 M 3.9 2 3
Upper Espiritu Santo 36 D 1.3 2 2
Roca El Yunaue 39 M 03 2 2

Total Length 24.3

Difficulty Abbreviations: E = Easiest M = More Difficult D = Most Diffcult

* Development level refers to the degree of improvements of a trail. Level 1 is most primitive, and Level 4 is most developed.

** Accessibility level refers to relative ease of access of a trail. Level 1 is mos difficult or Drimitive while Level 4 is easiest access

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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