Go For a Walk in La Marquesa Forest Park
Update July. 1, 2019- Post Maria- They have closed. We will update the article if they reopen.
Guaynabo City has created a beautiful forest reserve of approximately 600 acres for the enjoyment of locals and visitors to the island, called La Marquesa Forest Park (or Parque Forestal La Marquesa in Spanish).
We have been to La Marquesa Forest Park a few times to do the Original Canopy Tour zipline, which is located within this reserve. Over the past few years, we have seen the progress they’ve made on the Forest Park.
Being pretty close to SJ, we went to check it out for ourselves, after we visited the Luis A. Ferre Science Park in Bayamón
Upon arriving at the park, the guard at the gate told us where to park. There are clean bathrooms and water fountains just beyond the parking lot. We then went to the information booth, paid of entrance and got an information sheet (all in Spanish) and a map. You can walk or take the free trolley up to the tower and then to the other features of the park (like the aviary, zip line course and butterfly house). There is also a funicular (think a ski lift gondola) you can take up to the top.
We got on the trolley, which took us up the hill. It stops along the way at a look-out point and a picture spot (a man-made waterfall) and again at the observation tower area, where there are bathrooms, a play ground and covered picnic tables. The road continues to the aviary, butterfly house, gift shop and cafeteria.
Once you get off the trolley for the observation tower, you need to walk uphill. Just a little ways up, you pass another playground and tables. It then starts to get to be a pretty steep walk for about 1000 feet. Take your time. There are no benches along the way. But at the base of the tower there is another playground and picnic tables.
The views from the tower are very nice. From the top, you could see the aviary pavilion.
The viewing platform up on the tower is at 1066 feet above sea level, so you could see a distant San Juan, the northern shore, a few other towns and all the lovely mountains that run through the middle of Puerto Rico. You are above the tree tops. There was a strong wind the day we went — very refreshing!
Our next stop (hop back on the trolley or walk) is up to the Aviary pavilion. This area has an nice open air aviary (with lots of macaws and other colorful birds). There is also a small butterfly house and lab (so you can learn about butterflies). There is also a gift shop and a cafeteria and bathrooms and meeting areas. The La Marquesa Original Canopy Zip Line tour is also up here if you want some adventure!
The Funicular is another way to get from the entrance of the park to this aviary pavilion. It offers great views as you slowly glide in the 6 passenger enclosed cabin. They don’t stop, so you need to quickly walk onto and out of the slow moving cabin, but they are able to stop them if they need to. And they are wheel chair accessible. The ride takes about 10 minutes. They are not air conditioned, but when the cabins are moving, a breeze does come in (however when stopped, not so much!). It was an enjoyable ride high above the ground.
Getting Back to Your Car
When you are done looking around up in the tower or the aviary area, you can then either walk back (gravel sidewalk), wait for the next trolley, take the funicular. At the stop for the observation tower, there is also a paved path through the forest.
We chose to walk back on the path through the forest. Along the way, we passed some of the zip lines where the Original Canopy Tour is running. There are also a number of gazebos with picnic benches along this route. At gazebo 5, you have to walk up about 100 steeps to get back to the parking area. It was a nice workout!
Before we headed back to our car, we then spent some time talking to the park information guy. He told us about the future plans for the park. 10/14- The dinosaur park is now closed (dinosaurs were damaged by visitors).
The city of Guaynabo is really doing a great job with this park. Go out and see for yourself! It is a great place for the family to enjoy nature and burn off some energy.
They charge an entrance fee : $6 for adults, $3 for kids under 12 and senior citizens. Parking $1-2 cars. All fees are plus IVU (sales tax). The zip line is a separate fee and will need reservations, but everything else (tram and funicular transportation/aviary/butterfly house) is included in the price.
The park is open on Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00am until 5:00pm, but no admission after 3:30pm.. The park is closed on Mondays. It will be open some holidays…if open for a Monday holiday, they will close Tuesday (call to make sure they are open!).
The trolley/funicular is wheelchair accessible. The observation tower and some walking paths and trails in the forest are not.
I would allow 2 hours or more, depending on if you plan to walk through the forest or how long the kids want to play.
You can call (787)272-4530 or 787-908-1478 for more information. They rent out the gazebos and playgrounds for family parties, call to get information about that!
Parking fee is $1 per car and $2 for vans (plus tax). The parking lot at the center is small, but they have a field they park in where they will bus you up to the entrance. This park is popular with locals, especially on the weekend.
Driving directions from the San Juan area: Take Route 2 or 22 to Route 20 south. Follow Route 20 south (pass the Big Kmart) and look for the toll booth on your left, then take the second exit after the toll (it doesn’t have an exit number). This will put you onto Road 834. Then go straight across through the light and continue on Road 834. Road 834 eventually ends on Road 835. Turn left onto Road 835. Go a couple 100 feet and the park entrance will be right in front of you. There are some signs along the road that you can follow to get there.
The drive to the park from the San Juan area takes about 20 minutes.
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