Bano de Oro Trail: A Peaceful Stroll Along a Forest Stream
There are many trails in the El Yunque National Forest, but one great trail that is often overlooked is the Bano de Oro trail. Bano de Oro is one of my favorite trails because it goes along the river through a very lush part of the rain forest, there are sounds of the river and forest all around you, and it’s not a very busy trail. Oftentimes, you can walk the entire length of the trail without seeing anyone else.
The trail takes you past the Bano de Oro, which is an old freshwater "swimming pool" built in the 1930′s. It is no longer usable, but it does give you a glimpse into the history of the rain forest. The other neat things you will see along this trail, besides just the running river, are the remains of old fish hatchery tanks, which look like big, empty cement pools. It is interesting to see how the forest is taking back the land – plants now fill the pools that were once full of water and fish.
This is a short trail, only about ¼ mile long. The trailhead is a few hundred feet up Road 191 from the Palo Colorado Visitors Center. The Bano de Oro trail ends on the El Yunque trail.
One suggested route is to walk up the road from Palo Colorado to the trail head, follow the trail until it meets the El Yunque trail, and then turn right and follow the El Yunque trail back down to Road 191. That gives you a nice loop of about 1 mile that essentially starts and ends at the Palo Colorado Visitor Center. We usually take the Bano de Oro trail on the way down from the El Yunque peak.
The trail itself is made of asphalt, concrete and gravel, and it can be slippery. There is one area of walk that gets covered in water when there has been a lot of rain, but it is not hard to cross. There is one rain shelter along the trail, close to the beginning. It is a fairly easy trail as it rises less than 100 meters, so it is not steep. It usually takes about 20 minutes to complete (one way).
Parking is available at the Palo Colorado Visitors Center parking lots and at a designated areas along the road by the trail head.
There is no cost to hike in the El Yunque National Forest.
El Yunque National Forest is open 7:30am until 6:00pm 7 days/week, year-round . Ranger stations are open 9:00am until 5:00pm. The gates close at 6:00pm.
The round trip from the Palo Colorado information center along the Bano de Oro and El Yunque trails takes 45 – 60 minutes.
You can call 787-888-1810 or 787-888-1880 for more info.
You can visit the El Yunque National Forest web site for more information.
Follow Route 3 to Rio Grande. Look for the intersection with Route 955. There’s a big sign pointing to the rain forest. Follow Route 955 to Road 191. Turn onto Road 191 (there’s another sign for the rain forest here) and you’re there!
The drive from the San Juan area to the El Yunque National Forest takes about 45-60 minutes.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.