Bosque de Guilarte: A Forest in the Clouds
The Guilarte Forest (Bosque de Guilarte) is a beautiful area, located high up in the mountains of Adjuntas. “Cool and green” are the best words I can find to describe it. There is a hiking trail to the peak which offers beautiful views – when you are lucky. For those that don’t like hiking, there is a lovely flat, paved walking area to enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest. This forest is a bit off the beaten path … you really have to want to make the trip. But there are a few other things in the area that are nice to see, like waterfalls, natural pools, and a hanging bridge. You can make a nice day-trip by bundling a visit to this forest together with a few different stops in the area.
We initially went to this forest early 2017, and we were really impressed. It was beautiful, with camping areas, a few trails to look-out points with sweeping views, and lots of lushness and greenery. But then Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, and did considerable damage to all of our forests.
We made a return visit to Bosque de Guilarte, and we were happy to see that the forest is making a comeback. There are a lot of areas in the forest that have not yet been reopened (like the camping area, and the trail that leads to one of the look-out points). But what was open was still beautiful.
If you do visit this forest, you need to be aware that this is a large mountain range, and the clouds kind of get “stuck” here … so it rains or is cloudy in the forest a lot. That’s not a big deal if you are prepared for it. It is often muddy and slippery, so wear appropriate footwear. And pack a raincoat. But it can be beautiful and refreshing! There was a large variety of birds and plants to see and enjoy. Of course, the day we went, it was cloudy and raining on and off, so we don’t have any great photos to show for our effort.
Our November 2018 Visit to the Forest
We parked by the Departamento De Recursos Naturales Y Ambientales (DRNA) office or “ranger station”, and we stopped in to talk to them about the state of the forest. They told us we had two options: We could hike to the peak, or walk to the look-out point. During a break in the clouds, we decided to try for the peak (Pico Guilarte), which (at almost 4000 feet above sea level) is the fifth highest point in Puerto Rico.
The hike to the peak is not a long hike, but it can be a bit difficult. There was visible hurricane damage everywhere, with downed trees and parts of trail that were eroded away. So we had to do a little scrambling up and over, under, or around fallen trees across the trail. Parts of the trail were muddy, and there were narrow areas where vegetation was encroaching on the trail, but it was all very doable. And we enjoyed it very much. The low-hanging clouds in the trees all around us made it magical! The hike to the peak was about 45 minutes, and we worked up a sweat. But due to the usually cool temperatures, we were not overly hot. And the breeze at the top was wonderful!
As our luck would have it, it was cloudy when we got to the top, so we had no view. I hear that, on a clear day, the view is almost 360-degrees of the forest all around. Worth the hike even without the view!
It was getting darker as rain clouds were coming, so we tried to check out the walking area to the look-out point. This area is paved (it is a road), so it is accessible to all. We didn’t get too far before the rains came. But this area still looked well-maintained and very pretty, with picnic pavilions along the way. I assume the look-out area is still open … we didn’t make it that far. But, from our previous visit, we know that the look-out area provides very lovely views.
We are hopeful that, as time goes on, the DRNA continues working on the trails and forest areas, and that more of the forest will be re-opened!
There is no cost to hike in this forest.
I suggest long pantsfor the hike to the peak, until the grasses are cleared more.
The forest is open during daylight hours. If you take a hike, make sure you head back in time to get to your car before it gets dark.
the camping area and cabins are closed. Also, there used to be a popular restaurant just down the road from the DRNA office … that restaurant is not there anymore.
Bosque Guilarte is a large forest, spread across a couple different towns. The part we’ve described in this article is in Adjuntas, at the “corner” of PR518 and PR131.
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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!