Bosque Estatal de Susúa
Juxtaposed between the dry coastal flats and the humid mountain foothills of the Cordillera Central, the foggy forest of Bosque Estatal de Susúa has a diminutive 3300 acres – but what it lacks in largeness it compensates for in solitude. Well off the main tourist trails and notoriously difficult to find, Susúa is invariably deserted year-round, save for the occasional binocular-wielding ornithologist (the forest boasts 44 bird species) and tapped-in mountain biker.
To get to the main portion of the reserve with decent visitor access, drive west out of Yauco on Rte 368, past Hotel El Cafetal to Km 2.1. Turn right on a narrow road called Calle el Tamarindo and keep going until you arrive at the invariably un-staffed shack for the DRNA (Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales). There’s not much in the way of amenities at the entrance – just a recreation area scantily dotted with picnic tables, a toilet, a scattering of fire pits and some campsites and cabins.
There is little to detain you from getting on with the hardcore outdoor stuff. An unmarked network of trails fans off from the recreation area. For mountain bikers, there’s a very challenging 10km trail that incorporates river crossings and a technical ravine reverently called La Pared (The Wall).
For a different DIY adventure, head 9km north of Yauco along the eastern flank of the Bosque Estatal de Susúa on Rte 128, to mountain-rimmed reservoir Lago Luchetti with camping and great bird-watching.
Whichever part of the forest you head to, you’d be wise to check in advance what the latest on-the-ground situation is in regards to accommodation, as well as hiking and biking routes, through the DRNA in San Juan.
The nearest bike rental is Puerto Rico Bike Adventures near the town of Boquerón.