Puerto Rico's 7 best hiking trails

Hiking in Puerto Rico has plenty of potential. But what you actually get out of it depends largely on your expectations and how willing you are to strike out on your own (often without a decent map).

The island is not a hiker’s nirvana; although the scenery is lush and the coastline wonderfully idyllic, a lack of well-kept paths and a dearth of accurate information are the main challenges.

But if you're up for the challenge, the end results are worth it.

El Yunque National Forest

El Yunque Trail

On a clear day, never-ending views of Vieques and Culebra reward hikers who tackle the almost 1500ft elevation gain on this 2.4-mile, 1½-hour trail to the top of El Yunque (3496ft).

Starting opposite the Palo Colorado Information Center (which is temporarily closed), you'll ascend past mountain-palm trees and waterfalls to the cloud forest with “dwarf” trees.

If you want a rock scramble from here, take Los Picachos Trail (0.17 miles) to another old observation tower and feel as if you have crested a tropical Everest.

You can return via a different route by descending down a service road to the Mt Britton Trail and then down a dirt track to Rte 191 and back to your starting point.

El Yunque National Forest

Mt Britton Trail

If you're short on time and want to feel like you've really “summited,” take the 0.8-mile climb up paved pathways, through the sierra palm forest into the cloud forest and the Mt Britton Tower.

On a cloud-free day, the panoramic views from the stone lookout tower reach over the forest to the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

The trailhead veers off Hwy 191 for 0.3 miles at Km 13. Afterward, the more adventurous can connect to the El Yunque Trail via the 0.86-mile Mt Britton Spur.

The tower was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and named after the famous botanist Nathaniel Britton, who identified several plant and tree species in the region in the 1920s.


Vereda Meseta

This trail traces the coastal part of the Bosque Estatal de Guánica, and is one of the reserve's few routes that you pick up by following Hwy 333 to its termination at the Bahía de la Ballena.

This is a wild 4-mile round-trip used by both hikers and cyclists and skirts one of the region's prettiest beaches, Playa Tamarindo.