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Walk on the Dry Side in Guanica

If you are not into a long hike and still want to see the fort, you can park roadside on RT 333 at 17.9545296,-66.904332 and follow the path up. It is about a 10 min walk.

Guanica Dry Forest

I have mentioned before how wonderfully diverse the terrain is in Puerto Rico. The Guánica Dry Forest is another example of one of the extremes.

The Guánica State Forest & Bioshpere Reserve (Bosque Estatal de Guánica, in Spanish) is an great example of a dry forest, as compared to the rain forests found elsewhere on the island. It gets only about 30 inches of rain per year. Compare that to the 200+ inches that fall on El Yunque annually.

When I heard dry forest I assumed it would be all desert-like and brown. What a surprise! It is actually kind of green (we went in September), and full of plants and other wildlife.

The forest encompasses almost 1000 acres and is maintained by the Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA, or Department of Natural Resources) a safe home for many species (many of which are endangered. Due to it’s ecological importance, it has been designated as a United Nations International Biosphere Reserve in recognition of the efforts to conserve natural processes and resources in the forest.

The forest offers many well-maintained trails and is a bird-watcher’s paradise.

Our Hike

We arrived at 12:45pm (yes, I know the hottest time of the day). And believe me — it was hot! We planned to hike the Fort Trail, which is called Fuerte on the map. This trail starts just a little bit back up the main road from the parking lot. It is 5KM each way or about 6 miles round trip. The "trail" is actually a packed dirt/rock road (I guess for the electric company), so it is wide and pretty well maintained. So while it is easy walking, the trail is not shaded. We were glad we had our hats and sunscreen (and lots of water).

Guanica Dry Forest

Being used to hiking in the rain forest, I was expecting the dry forest to be a barren place. As I already mentioned, I was surprised how green it was. Actually, we visited the forest during wet season, so that had some impact on the plants. I have read that during dry season, many of the trees lose their leaves.

Plant life includes trees (though mostly shorter ones) and shrubs mixed in with cactus and other plants that thrive in drier conditions. We also saw many birds along our way. Some of the plants had dug their roots into the rock, or any other place where they could get a hold and some water, making for some great photos.

Guanica Dry Forest

There seem to be a few short trails that go off of the Fuerte trail, but our goal was the fort, so we kept going straight. Now here is a hint if you’re looking for the fort — you will come to a Y in the road (after the flag poles) — take the fork to the left and head up-hill. We, unfortunately, went down-hill to the right and got lost for about an hour searching for the fort! I joked that the large turkey vultures that were flying overhead were just waiting for us to collapse!

Once we realized our error (and with some help from Google Earth on our iPhone) we backtracked, and the fort was very close. The good news in all of this is that we got a very nice view of the nearby bay.

Fort Capron in Guanica Dry Forest

The fort is named Fort Caprón. It was probably more of a watch or signal tower than an actual fort. It was small, but pretty and offered great views (and some nice pictures). Of course it has been "decorated" by the local kids, but it still was nice to see.

This trail took us about 1 hour to get back. It is a bit hilly, but otherwise easy to walk. Bring lots of water, sun screen and mosquito spray.

The side trails off of Fuerte trail are Ojo de Agua (which is actually a green, forestry area year round due to freshwater springs), El Ver, Picua and Hoya Honda. Update: I have heard that you can easily get to the Fort if you park on Rt 333 at km 3.1. This way it is only a 30 min hike each way!.

Guanica Forest Map

Other Forest Trails & Things to See

There are about 12 trails to chose from in the Guánica Forest Reserve. Some of the more "interesting" ones, in my opinion, are

  • The Ballena Trail (about 2½ miles round trip) takes you down to the water at Ballena Bay (it ends at an unmarked green gate). However, this beach is not a good swimming beach — it has considerable undertow and surf breaks. The trail head is just up the road a bit from the parking area/info center. If you take a short side trail off this one, you will see a 700 year old Guayacan tree.
  • The Lluberas Trail begins at the parking lot area. It is 8KM one way (or about 10 miles round trip). This trail goes through all the types of vegetation in the forest — from dry to evergreen.
  • Tamarindo Beach

  • The Cueva Trail veers off Lluberas Trail and goes past some small natural limestone caves. To legally enter caves, you must have permission of DRNA. For a shorter walk to the caves, you can also access the other end of this trail near the end of Route 333, at the entrance to Playa Tamarindo — but it is unmarked.
  • Right in the parking area / picnic area are some old sugar mill ruins. There are only foundations left of the mill, but close by is the Cueva Cal (small caves) which are closed to the public.
  • The Meseta Trail (about 4½ miles round trip) begins at the end of Route 333 at the gate where the road stops, far from the official parking area. This is Tamarindo Beach. You can park at the end of Route 333 and there are some trails that go along the coastal dry forest. Great views of the Caribbean Sea and sea birds.


There is no charge to access the Guánica Forest Reserve.

The forest is open daily from 8am or 9am until 4pm or 5pm, but the Information Center is closed from noon to 1pm for lunch time.

It is HOT! Take PLENTY of water. Bring good, sturdy shoes for walking. The mosquitos are vicious — bring bug spray and reapply often!

There are restrooms available near the information center. Bicycles are allowed on some trails.

The trails/routes are not marked well, there is usually a trail head sign, by nothing else. Make sure you get a map, though they are hard to read and, perhaps, less than accurate. I would stick to the trails I mentioned above, the smaller may not be well-maintained.

You can call 787-821-5706 for more information.

Driving directions: From Route 116, take Route 334 all the way into the forest. There are no signs along Route 334 for the forest. Whenever you come to a questionable Y in the road, take the fork that goes up and to the left. Eventually, you will come to a Welcome to the Forest sign. Follow the road until you come to the parking area. The forest is located on Route 334 at KM 6 in Guánica.

We are in the process of updating the maps we use on our web site. While we're working on that, you can click on the GPS coordinates below to view the location on Google Maps ... 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! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 12 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

The "ranger station" will not be open, and I assume the main gate will also be closed. But you can hike the trails that are on Rd 333- Meseta Trail, Cueva Trail etc.

Comment by Gwenn on 11 Jan 2016

Hi - do you know if this forest will be open for hiking over Easter weekend? If not, is the best way to find out by calling them directly?

Comment by Karol on 10 Jan 2016

There is a balneario in Guancia that is calm and has life guards. Cano Gordo is the name of the balneario, on RT 333.

Comment by Gwenn on 10 Sep 2015

Hi, Do you know if there is a beach that you can safely swim at after hiking in the forest? Thanks for any information you can provide!

Comment by Carol Deer on 06 Sep 2015

We don't offer tours ourselves. Contact the hotel where you'll be staying and see what they can recommend.

Comment by Ray on 12 May 2015

To whom it may concern: I will be in Ponce sometime in Dec of this year. And I was wondering if there are any guided day tours from Ponce to Bosque Estatal Guanica. Any information you can provide would be greatly appreciate. Thank you. Eddie Levenson

Comment by Edward L. Levenson on 12 May 2015

I am from Guanica and the camino de soga is no longer there, it was a rope that was there and I used to go up to the fort that way, this was about 40 yrs ago. I think there is 2 ways to get to the fort, one from the road that takes you to Copamarina Hotel and the other one is from the dry forest that you can eneter from el Barrio La Luna. The coquis you can find them more in San Juan and in the cooler towns.

Comment by EVelyn Jones on 22 Jun 2012

Thanks Ray. My husband rented a mountain bike from a guy nearby the forest and did a ride there a few years back. Yes it was hot. He enjoyed it though and this seems to be a good account of the dry forest. I have always noticed when staying at Copamarina there are not so many coqui sounds at night, thinking they don't like that dry area as much. Just an observation in the past.

Comment by Val on 24 Jul 2011

Thanks Ray!

Comment by Maria Guzman on 29 Oct 2010

If you take a look at the map, you'll see that the Fuerte trail continues past the fort and ends on Road 333 north-west of the old lighthouse ruins. If you could find that end of the trail, it would be a shorter walk to the fort. And I bet it would also be steep and overgrown.

Comment by Ray on 24 Oct 2010

Have you guys heard anything about an alternatine route to Fort Capron in the Guanica Dry Forest? It's called the "Camino de soga", but we were not able to find it... I heard there are people who take it to avoid the 5 km walk on the Bosque Seco; they told us it's steeper but shorter. Any idea? Thanks!

Comment by Maria Guzman on 23 Oct 2010

Gwen: Wow!! Thanks for taking the time to share this information. I planning a trip to Guanica and among other things I would like to visit the Dry Forest, but I found none or little information related to the hours of operations, trails, etc. I found your article very informative, yet interesting. And BTW, I'm a very demanding reader... Grateful, Zolymar

Comment by Zolymar Luna on 09 Mar 2010

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