Bosque Estatal de Guajataca

Central Mountains

Despite its diminutive size (2430 acres), the Bosque Estatal de Guajataca contains more trails (27 miles) than any other forest in Puerto Rico – including El Yunque. Set in dramatic karst country, the distinctive terrain oscillates between 500ft and 1000ft above sea level and is characterized by bulbous mogotes (sheer limestone pinnacles) and rounded sumideros (funneled depressions). Covered by a humid subtropical forest, there are 45 species of bird to be found here along with 186 different types of tree.

Most of the main hikes depart from, or near, the ranger station. True to form, this office, 5 miles into the forest, is not always open, and when rangers do emerge they don’t always have much in the way of printed information, so come prepared. The best bet is to call the DRNA in San Juan before you arrive at the forest to find things closed and feel a little lost. ‘Official’ maps of the area are usually hand-drawn, photocopied and not to scale.

The most popular hike is the 1.5-mile Interpretative Trail: this passes an observation tower and several other points of interest; hike to the observation tower to get the best views of the surrounding countryside. It’s a moderate walk that takes about two hours.

Trail Number One breaks off from the Interpretative Trail and heads toward Cueva del Viento: arguably the highlight of the entire forest. There, wooden stairs will take you down into the depths of a dark cave rich with stalactites and stalagmites (bring a flashlight). Let rangers know if you are going into the caves.

There's also a scattering of picnic tables where locals gather around grills, and plantations of blue mahoe trees. The area is a favorite habitat of the endangered Puerto Rican boa.

The nearest eating facilities are a bakery and a supermarket at the intersection of Hwys 446 and 457.

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