Hike the Bisley Trail – El Yunque’s Newest Trail
6/23- This trail is still officially closed due to road construction leading up to the trailhead. But it can be used with care.
El Yunque National Forest has a number of hiking trails that are fun and rewarding. Sadly, in 2017, Hurricane Maria damaged much of the forest and trails, and work is still underway to reopen some of the most popular trails. The US Forest Service, along with volunteer groups, has been working on getting trails back in shape. And they are not working on only the popular trails. They are also working on reopening some older trails, like the Bisley Trail! This trail is outside the La Mina Recreation Area, so you do not need a reservation to use it.
I am not sure if it is due to the new Ridge to Reef initiative to have 40-mile path from the seashore to highest point in El Yunque (possibly called the NorEste/Northeast Trail), but the Bisley Trail has gotten some serious attention lately. This old trail is a connector from Road 988 to La Coca Trail. If you look at the old map of El Yunque trails, you will see two trails — Bisley and Carillo — coming off of old Road 9915 (which is not on Google Maps). Since both of those old trails lead to the same point, they decided to just reopen the one trail.
The Bisley Trail has not been officially opened yet (as of February 2023), and they are currently still working on the old Road 9915. But you can use the trail — just be careful of the equipment and workers if they are operating heavy equipment on it.
The Bisley Trail is technically an in/out trail, about 1.5 miles each way. The trail officially starts at the end of the gravel road they are restoring, but since there is no parking there, we had to walk the additional almost 1 mile length of this road. It took us about 3 hours round trip from Road 988 to La Mina River and back. If you were just doing the official rough trail from trail head to river and back, it should take a little over 2.25 hours.
We are not sure what their plan is for parking in the future, but for now, your hike will start at the gate on Road 988 between KM 4.7 & 4.8. If you approach from Road 191, the gate will be on the right, just after the Campemento Yuquibo (which is on the left at the curve). We parked on the right, to the side of this gate. Be careful to avoid blocking the gate or blocking traffic on Road 988. There is room here for 3 or 4 cars to safely park.
If the gate is closed, just walk around it. You will walk up the gravel road and you will see a Bisley Trail sign that points to the right at the Y. Keep going. After you have walked about 1 mile, the road ends and the rough Bisely Trail starts.
Currently, this is not a well-used trail, but it is easy to follow. It is an in/out without any side trails. It is marked just with colored ribbons every so often. You will cross a few little creeks along the way, and have to cross a couple rocky ditches.
Some of the trail is very narrow, sometimes on a steep edge. It is rustic, muddy, rocky, slippery … a little of everything! There will probably be areas where banana plants, palm branches, or whole trees have fallen in the path and you need to go over or around it. You will eventually get to Río Mameyes, which you can cross and follow the path over the little peninsula (look for the colored ribbons) to get to Río La Mina, where the Bisley Trail meets up with La Coca Trail.
There are some pretty parts of this trail, with some views of Yukahu Tower, but mostly I found this trail to be uneventful. It is jungly, with some interesting birds and plants along the way. The trail has uphill and downhill parts, which you really don’t notice on the way in, and overall doesn’t have much elevation gain (about 100 feet). As with any hike down to a river, the way back is harder than the way in … there is more uphill on the way back than you remember from the hike in!
I would rate this trail as moderate to moderate/difficult, due to it being muddy and slippery. I would suggest wearing gloves as you need to grab tree and plants for support. Closed-toe hiking shoes with good traction are required. It is lovely to cool off in the rivers at the end, but be very aware of the weather — these rivers often have deadly flash floods which occur without much warning.
We believe the plan is for this trail is to be the connector part to La Coca Trail in the overall Reef to Ridge initiative. We love La Coca Trail. It is very beautiful, however be aware it has a long, steep uphill climb from the river back to Road 191. It is not for the faint of heart, but nice!
The one problem we see with using Bisley Trail as a connector trail is that you need to really plan ahead for transportation between the Bisley trail head on Road 988 and La Coca trail head on Road 191. We think a nice 4.5 mile hike would be starting at La Coca and going all the way down to La Mina River, connect to the Bisley Trail and end up on Road 988. But it would be a transportation, parking, and reservation nightmare.
To do this, you would need two cars — park one car on Road 988 near the Bisley Trail; use the second car to get to La Coca trail head (reservation required); hike the trails from Road 191 to Road 988; get into the first car at the end of Bisley Trail and drive back to Road 191 (reservation required) to retrieve the car you parked at La Coca trail head. In total, you would need 2 reservations – 1 for the morning and 1 for the afternoon.
If you were to hike the other way (start on Bisley Trail and end on La Coca Trail), you would need a total of 4 reservations – 2 for the morning and 2 for the afternoon. What a mess! I hope they work out some kind of transportation system!
There is no cost to access the Bisley Trail from Road 988. Reservation for “La Mina Recreation Area” is not required.
Allow enough time to get back to your car before dark.
There are no facilities near/on the Bisley Trail. Please pack-out your trash. Bring plenty of drinking water and at least a snack.
Allow a minimum of 3 hours for the round trip hike from Road 988 to the end of the Bisley Trail at La Mina River.
Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...
- Bisley Trail, junction with La Coca Trail
- Bisley Trail, parking
- Bisley Trail, trailhead
- El Yunque, La Coca Trail
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!