Discover Petroglyphs at El Hippie and La Canoa Falls

To help reduce litter and questionable use of the area, there is now a gate on the road just before El Hippie. The gate is closed at night.

El Hippie

We live on the north side of El Yunque National Forest, and I am pretty familiar with most of the trails and things to see in the rain forest in our area. But I have been on a quest to get to see the petroglyphs located in Rio Blanco on the south side of El Yunque for a long time. We were finally able to find them, along with swimming holes and a water fall. This is one of those trips that you could do on your own, but it would be much easier with a guide.

The petroglyphs are located in an area known as El Hippie. This area is pretty well-known by the locals and kids in the area. It is one of those places where they go to hang out, play around and do some crazy stuff. We went on a holiday morning, and we found a really nice bunch of local teenagers hanging out, enjoying the day off from school. Since we didn’t know exactly what was what, I asked them to show us around and they were more than happy to help us explore the area.

El Hippie

First off, they were a lot younger, more fit and much more agile than me and Ray. They were able to quickly scale these REALLY large, slippery boulders. But at least one of them always waited for us to make our way and lend a helping hand. Second, they wanted to show us everything — all the cool stuff — even a cave you can go into that goes under and through a waterfall. We were OK with most of it, but the cave turned out to be a bit more than Ray and I expected and bargained for — but we made it through!

Though we really enjoyed ourselves that morning, this is not something that I suggest that others do on their own. There are guides you can pay to take you to EL Hippie — I suggest you do that.

The Petroglyphs

When we were driving up to El Hippie, we passed a gate on the right side of the road that had a sign that said Parking $5. Parking there would have been ideal since the petroglyphs are located just across the river from that property. And for safety-wise of the car, but as our luck would have it, there was no one home — so we couldn’t park there and access the river that way. We had to continue up the road to El Hippie.

El Hippie

The petroglyphs are located downstream from the El Hippie pool. The local kids led us downstream, by scaling huge boulders, on the far side of the river. Getting there wasn’t too easy, but we made it in one piece. This is one of those times that it would have been really good to have a guide.

When we got to the petroglyphs, we found one large, smooth rock that had 5 or 6 pre-Columbian indian carvings on it. Unfortunately, these petroglyphs are a bit worn from all of the people that have visited here and walked on the rock over the years. We found that if you wet the rock, you can see the petroglyphs better.

A little farther downstream there is a second, taller rock that has some more carvings on it. They are carved on the top side of the rock in an area where you can’t stand — so these petroglyphs are in better condition. Unfortunately, that also made it difficult to get photos of all of them.

Overall, these petroglyphs are pretty impressive — though getting to them would have been easier with a guide. I know that Robin Phillips takes people to see these petroglyphs. He might know an easier way to get to them. If you really want to see them, it is probably worth investing in the trip with him.

El Hippie Pool

After we saw the petroglyphs, we headed back upstream to the El Hippie pool area. On the way up, the kids stopped to show us a small (and I mean small) cave that goes under and through the river rocks, under a waterfall and crosses the water. As I said earlier — skip it! The kids showed us a "safe" way to go through it — but, in reality, there’s really no "safe" way!

After our little cave adventure, we scrambled back up to El Hippie pool, where the kids stopped to eat their picnic lunch. While they were doing that, we watch some other locals kids jumping off the rocks into the pool and using the natural rock slides.

The pool was deep in the middle, but it had a shallow, rocky bottom on the edges. I was just happy to sit on the rocks and watch.

Unfortunately, this area is really dirty with trash, leftovers from picnics, and other garbage. I was really disappointed in the conditions we found there. It even smelled of trash. So we were happy when the kids finished their lunch and came back to lead us up to La Canoa Falls.

La Canoa Falls

El Hippie

La Canoa Falls is just up above the HUGE rock that up see on the upper right of the El Hippie pool. The climb was tricky — it’s up and around the rocks on the right side of El Hippie. La Canoa Falls is in a narrow shaft between the sides of the rock walls above El Hippie.

It is a nice waterfall — probably 70-feet high — that has cut a gorge through the rock over the years.

The kids took us up to the top of the falls, and I stayed pretty far from the edge! Then, all of a sudden, one of the boys just jumped over the edge and disappeared into the pool below! Crazy!

El Hippie

The kids that jumped seemed to have some method to their madness. Though they were jumping from a height of around 70-feet, they were entering the water as if doing a shallow dive. It appears that there is only a small spot were the water is deep enough to jump from that height.

This did not seem too smart to me, and I was happy to see some of the kids refuse to do it — even with peer pressure. I was happy to see the waterfall, but hope not too many people feel the urge to jump.

Details

While you’re in this area, you might consider visiting Los Prieto Falls or Rio Sabana Trail.

Be aware, these are slippery rocks, so you need to be careful when walking around on them. Also, never go in the rivers during a rain (flash floods happen a lot ) or even a day or two after a rain, since the current can be too strong to be safe. People have been hurt/killed while playing in this river, jumping from the rocks and climbing around the rivers. Respect nature and be safe. And don’t litter.

El Hippie

Driving directions from the Fajardo area: Route 53 to Route 31 west (exit #22 for Rio Blanco). Follow Route 31 to Route 191. At KM28 on Route 191, you will come to a large concrete bridge. Cross the bridge and then make the first right on the road there (there was signs for Casa Picaflores and Monatana Explorer, but we don’t know if that will always be there). The road is really narrow — go slowly and honk the horn around the corners. Take this road a bit, when you cross a small bridge, turn to the right (Montana Explorer and Casa Picaflores had their signs on this corner too) and take this road up until the end, where you will need to find parking- either in a lot (if available) or roadside without blocking the route. To get to the El Hippie pool, you will need to go down to the river on a slippery path at the end of the road.

Be aware, there have been car break-ins in this area, so take everything you value out of the car. It would be best to park in a lot if any of the neighbors allow it.

 

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

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I did a google search and found him http://www.rainforestfruitfarm.com/rainforesttours.html

Comment by Gwenn on 01 Mar 2016

Good Day, You mentioned hiring Robin as a guide in the article. Do you have contact info for him/her? Thanks!

Comment by Jill Updyke on 28 Feb 2016

Good reminder for all....clean up is always needed. Just sad that people don't take care for the natural beauty around them.

Comment by Gwenn on 04 Mar 2015

Why don't one of you visitors clean up the trash? It sounds like a nice place and sometimes we have to put in a little effort even if it is someone else's fault.

Comment by jb on 03 Mar 2015

Yes, thank you for the warning/reminder. It is true of many of the off the beaten path places. I added a note about the opportunistic crime to the article.

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Jun 2012

Please be careful leaving your car at the informal parking area. I had been warned about people stealing things from parked cars, so I did as I've done in similar situations before--taken all my belongings with me, but left the doors unlocked in case they want to break in (and spare myself having to repair my car window)... well, they didn't break in but somehow they took my spare tire and my companion's sandals from inside of my trunk! They even went through my cooler which I realized was opened. We had been warned that the place attracts unsavory characters, so just be warned.

Comment by abc on 19 Jun 2012

Thanks to your article I visited La Canoa falls and the hippie pool today. Initially had a little trouble finding the parking spot above the hippie Pool since gps does not work well in the area. Eventually ran into some local kids that pointed us in the right direction. There were many locals there swimming, bbqing and just having a good time. The kids were doing some impressive dives off some very high boulders. I did some jumps and dives off the smaller boulders. Later a local guided us up the waterfall. This was one of the most unique, off the beaten paths excursions I have ever taken. This place may be well known to locals but it is completely off the radar for tourists. The perfect day trip for those looking for some adventure and boulder diving.

Comment by Charlie on 16 Jun 2012

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