Cambalache Forest – A Great Place for Biking or Walking
The Cambalache State Forest (Bosque Estatal de Cambalache) offers a lovely oasis for picnics and gatherings, and it has several miles of trails designed for enjoying nature via mountain bike, walking or bird watching. This is one of the few places in Puerto Rico where you can mountain bike along cool and shaded forest trails, in an area that has some facilities for your comfort.
The forest is comprised of over 1000 acres of protected land, where local flora and fauna can thrive. Located between Arecibo and Barceloneta, this area is karst country — which means the landscape is limestone rock with lots of shrubs and trees.
The recreation area (near the entrance) has one large picnic pavilion for larger parties/gatherings, and 4 smaller (but still nice-sized) picnic pavilions located along a wheelchair-accessible forest path. The picnic areas are equipped with a picnic table and benches and a charcoal BBQ pit. There are bathrooms (bring your own paper), but bathroom cleanliness may be an issue.
There is also a nice camping area that has some wheelchair accessible showers, though when we went there were no shower heads! The bathrooms at the camping area need a key, which I assume you can get when you registrar for a campsite at the office or ranger station.
For mountain bikers and walkers this park is about the trails — over 4 miles of them! There is one large loop that goes around the area (about 3½ miles long) and a number of other paths that cut through the middle of the large loop. There are signs pointing for each trail, pretty well marked.
These forest trails have just about everything a mountin biker could want — a shaded route with trails in decent shape, and a varied path with some rocky areas, some roots, some mud, some smaller winding trails through trees, some uphills and some downhills.
We didn’t bike it, but the bikers we talked to loved it. They were doing their second trip around that day!
As a walk, the trail was nice (though very slippery in spots). Landscape was rugged and pretty, but not amazingly beautiful. Bring water and bug spray to be comfortable.
Biking and walking in the forest are free. There is a parking lot just inside the entrance gate, and another one outside of the gate.
A permit is required for camping and group activities. You can get a permit by calling the División de Uso de Terrenos y Permisos Forestales, Wednesday to Friday between 8am and 4pm. Their numbers are 787-999-2200 ext 5610 or X 5613, or 787-881-1004. They may or may not speak English. Application for permit to camp is here
There are no places to rent bikes nearby, you have to bring your own.
Driving directions from the San Juan area — Take Route 22 to Route 683 (that’s exit 63). Take Route 683 north to Road 682 (may say 6682). Turn right onto Road 682 (6682). Continue until you see a sign for Cambalache Forest and the Job Corps on the right (about km 6), then make a right. There is a plant nursery on the left. Turn left after the nursery, and you will come to the DRNA sign for the forest. The road was in terrible shape when we went, so take it slow.
Allow a little less than 1 hour driving time from the San Juan area.
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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!