Hike Mount Britton Trail in the Rain Forest
3/25/13 Mt Britton trailhead is currently accessible. But they are still doing roadwork, so be careful in that area.
The Mount Britton Trail is a 0.8 mile, one-way hike. It starts a short walk from Road 191, at an elevation of 2,493 feet and climbs 594 feet in this short distance. The trail is narrow, but paved, and well-maintained. It is a labeled as a “Challenging” trail by the US Forest Service, but we didn’t really think it was that challenging. I guess they they labeled it that was because it’s steep in some places, and the paved walkway can be slippery.
To get to the trail head, you need to go up Road 191, past the Palo Colorado Information Center, until it ends (at Km 12.8). Once you get to the end, turn right onto Road 930 and go approximately ¼ mile west until you come to the end of the road. There is limited parking available on the left (south) side of Road 930, just before the trail head sign. If there’s no available parking on Road 930, you can park on the side of Road 191, just be sure not to block the gate. The walk from Road 191 to the trail head is about 5 minutes.
What we’re calling Road 930 is marked as Road 9938 on some maps. But the sign you’ll see for this road up in the rain forest says “930″, so that’s what we’ve decided to use!
The Mount Britton Trail goes through the Sierra Palm Forest, which you’ll easily recognize because of the huge number of palm trees growing in this area! There are a number of places where you will be near streams along the way. There is one spot, close to the trail head, that has a cute little river pool you could cool your feet off in. There are three rain shelters along the way, with benches. This trail will take approximately 45 minutes to complete.
The Mount Britton Trail ends on Forest Service Road 10. Service Road 10 is closed to public traffic, so it’s a safe place to walk. It is very nice, usually shady, and has some great vistas along both the way up and down.
In this article, we talk about three very different trails with three very similar sounding names: the Mount Britton Trail, the Mount Britton Tower Trail and the Mount Britton Spur. They are three separate trails that all happen to be on Mount Britton. It might be helpful to print out a copy of our El Yunque Trail Map for reference.
At this point, you have a decision to make …
If you want to continue up to the Mount Britton Tower, turn right and walk up Service Road 10 approximately 500 feet to the trail head for the Mount Britton Tower Trail. This is a very short trail, and the views from the top of the tower make it well worth the effort.
If you want to go up the the El Yunque Peak, turn right and walk up Service Road 10 all the way to the peak. Alternately, you could walk up Service Road 10 until you get to the Mount Britton Spur, turn right and then take that trail until it meets up with the El Yunque Trail (at which point you turn left). Either way, you’ll get to the peak. Eventually.
If you are ready to quit and go back to your car, you can either turn around retrace your steps along the Mount Britton Trail, or turn left onto Service Road 10 and follow it until it ends on Road 191. When you get to Road 191, turn left (there’s a sign pointing toward the “Palo Colorado Information Center”), and in a couple of minutes you’ll be at the intersection of Roads 191 and 930.
Or, if you want more of an adventure in the rain forest, and choose not to return to your car the way you came, or take the road down, you can take the Mount Britton Spur. If you choose this route, turn right and walk up Service Road 10 approximately 500 feet to the trail head for the Mount Britton Tower Trail. The Mount Britton Spur is just off of Service Road 10, and it goes to the right into the forest, just above the Mount Britton Tower Trail. The Spur will junction with the El Yunque Trail. At this junction, proceed down (to the right) to where it junctions with the Baño de Oro Trail. Here you can either take the Baño de Oro Trail to the right (one of my favorites), or continue down El Yunque. Either way, they both end on Road 191, near the Palo Colorado Information Center. At this point, you will need to turn right on to Road 191 and walk up the road (uphill) to where it meets Road 930 (and presumably where you parked your car).
Mount Britton Tower
The short Mount Britton Tower Trail goes off to a sharp right from Service Road 10. The tower was built in the 1930s at the peak of Mount Britton, at an elevation is 3,087 feet (941 meters). This cute little stone tower is covered with orange lichens, making it look like fake stone. Climbing the circular stairway (short – maybe 40 steps) is worth the effort – the views are fantastic. If you get there when it is not too cloudy, you will have a great panoramic view of the surrounding forest, the Atlantic Ocean and north coast, and the Caribbean Sea and the east coast.
Once you’re done with the tower, you’ll need to retrace your steps along the trail back to Service Road 10. Once back on Service Road 10, you have the same options that we presented above for returning to your car.
El Yunque National Forest is open 7 days/week, year-round.
You can visit the El Yunque National Forest web site for more information.
Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.