What’s Open In El Yunque National Forest?
As everyone knows, hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017. The island has been in a state of recovery ever since, and things are looking pretty good overall. Nature is rebounding. Businesses are reopening. Damaged infrastructure has been repaired. Sure, there is still more work to be done. But we feel confident in saying that Puerto Rico is once again open for tourism!
El Yunque National Forest is the single most-visited area in all of Puerto Rico, with about 600,000* people from all over the world visiting the forest each year. The hurricanes in 2017 caused considerable damage in the forest … landslides, washed-out roads, deforestation, downed trees, and other structural damage. Because of that, much of forest has remained closed to the public ever since.
Little by little, the Forest Service is repairing and reopening parts of the National Forest. This article serves to itemize the parts of the forest that have reopened, and those that remain closed. We will update this article with new information as it is made available by the Forest Service.
These areas are have been announced as “open to the public” by the Forest Service, as of March 27, 2019. Even though these areas are “open”, due to on-going maintenance and reconstruction in the forest, a site may be temporarily closed on any given day. Additionally, heavy rain may cause more landslides, forcing the closure of specific areas. Check with the Forest Service personnel when you arrive at the forest to verify that the areas you intend to hike in are open during your visit..
La Coca Falls – Located right on Road 191, La Coca Falls is open for viewing.
La Coca Trail – La Coca Trail is a difficult hike through into the wilderness area of the forest. The trailhead is located just up-hill from La Coca Falls. There is limited parking.
Yokahu Tower – A short climb up Yokahu Tower offers panoramic views of the forest.
Juan Diego Trail – Juan Diego Trail is a relatively easy trail that leads to a small waterfall. It used to be secluded, but (as one of the few waterfalls now accessible within the forest) this is where most people now stop. Access is restricted to the lower waterfall on this trail.
Caimatillo Trail -Only one small part of it is open at the moment. Park on Rt 191 at km 11.8 parking area and start the trail here. It leads right into El Yunque Peak trail.
Los Picachos Trail – This trail leads off to the east from the El Yunque Peak trail. trail that has amazing views and rarely used..
Palo Colorado Visitors Center – This area has parking and a gift shop and a park employee who can help you plan your day in the park They have maps of the trails.Picnic areas are not yet open.
Baño Grande – The Baño Grande site is open for viewing. Swimming is not permitted. Parking is available at Palo Colorado.
Mt. Britton Trail – Park on Road 9938 and take this trail to Route 10. From there, you walk up the road just a short bit and you can access the short trail that leads up to Mt. Britton Tower.
Mt. Britton Tower Spur – This trail connects El Yunque Trail to Route 10. You can use this to hike from the Mt. Britton Tower area to the peak of El Yunque.
Palma Sierra Picnic Area – parking area and concession stand. Some picnic tables.
El Yunque Trail & Peak – Use this trail to reach the observation tower atop El Yunque peak. The side trails to Los Picachos and Roca El Yunque are open too. That the lowest segment of El Yunque Trail, that connects the Baño Grande area to the junction with Mt. Britton Tower Spur (that’s where the fireplace is located) Has reopened. To reach the peak, you can either start by hiking the Mt. Britton Trail, and then either go up Route 10, or use the Mt. Britton Tower Spur to get to El Yunque Trail or start at Caimatillo Trail and go up from there.
El Yunque trails are open every day 8:00am – 6pm. Yokahu Tower closes at 4:30pm.
Puente Roto – Swimming and picnic area located on Route 988.
Angelito Trail – Nice trail across little bridge to swimming hole.
El Toro Trail – Reach the highest point in El Yunque National Forest on El Toro Trail, accessible from Road 186. This is a difficult hike. Note that, until the canopy regrows, most of this hike is in full sun.
Quebrada Grande & Río Espiritu Santos – There are a number of scenic rivers and waterfalls accessible from Road 186 in Río Grande.
Río Sabana Picnic Area – Though the Sabana Trail is not open, the picnic area in the Río Sabana Recreation Area is open. This area is on the south side of El Yunque National Forest, and is only accessible via the southern segment of Road 191. It is open on weekends only.
What’s Still Closed?
- El Portal Visitor Center & Trail – No expected reopening date provided.
- Big Tree Trail – Expected to reopen at the end of 2020.
- La Mina Trail – Expected to reopen at the end of 2020.
- La Mina Falls – Will reopen once Big Tree and La Mina Trails are reopened.
- Baño de Oro Trail – No expected reopening date provided.
- Tradewinds Trail – No expected reopening date provided.
- Río Sabana (Tony Croatto) Trail – No expected reopening date provided.
Because we know someone will ask … All photos in this article were taken in 2018 … post-Maria.
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!