Monte Pirata Ecological Park – MTB & Hiking
I have found that mountain bike (MTB) trails lead to some amazing places. Monte Pirate is no exception! I first found out about this park after seeing a photo of the church. We went exploring and were amazed at what we found. It is a great place for photographers, biking, walking or just exploring.
Monte Pirata MTB, Hike & Ecological Park is located right on the border of the towns of Mayaguez and Cabo Rojo, the the southwest part of Puerto Rico. It is a large area that used to be the Cárcel Correccional de Menores (a Juvenile Correctional facility). When we went, we had no idea what it was, so it was pretty scary at first. But once we figured it out, and spoke with other people using the park, we started really getting into it. Once we got back home, I did some research to understand the history of this place.
The correctional facility was built in 1908, and was a complete complex for housing and rehabilitating the troubled youth. It closed in 2003, and sat vacant and unused for years. The property was transferred from Department of Corrections to the town of Cabo Rojo in 2010. Since then, the town has permitted volunteers (a non-profit corporation called Grupo Monte Pirata, Inc.) to create and maintain a recreational area for all to enjoy.
The buildings are falling apart and nature is taking over, but the paths and trails are open for walking or biking, exploring and photography. The buildings have been vacant for 18 years, so it could be risky exploring them, and there are bats in them and graffiti (some not meant for children!) all over. So enter at your own risk!
The GPS/pin will lead you right to the main gate. We parked outside the gate on the roadside (not blocking the gate) and walked up the road. Right away you pass on old guard stop (and a house above it). We took a detour to the road on the right that goes down to old housing buildings, and a huge old Flamboyant tree (on the left side). It is really amazing to see it.
Getting back on the main road, we continued up the hill to the top where you will find the beautiful old church. The front looks great but the building has no roof. There is some graffiti inside, but just cool!
Then we started checking out the road to the right, and the old buildings. The first was a beautiful building – the main office area and educational areas. Then behind that was the housing facilities (this is where we started getting creeped out!). But it was cool once we got figured it out.
There are bats and guano inside the buildings, so keep an eye on your kids! We continued up the road to more housing, other buildings, and an old water tower.
All throughout the area, the mountain bike trails intertwined. They went through buildings and all around in the wooded areas. We don’t MTB, but it seemed like it would be a pretty fun place to try. We followed a few of the trails from the water tank to the front again. Be aware the MTB trails are mostly dirt, with roots, rocks, etc. The bike trails are thin, so try to get out of the bikers’ way when you hear them coming. We did not do many of the bike trails, but there is a path that goes out to a wonderful view of the water.
The trails are mostly shaded. The road are mostly sunny. After rain, there could be mosquitoes or slippery areas. A number of people use this facility, and it is maintained well and pretty clean of garbage. Please help keep it that way!
When doing the research for this article, I found Images of the old Cabo Rojo Correctional Prison for Minors, moments before its closure in 2003, compared with images of the current state of the buildings on Facebook.
There is no cost to access the eco park.
Access the park during daylight hours. There is no illumination inside the park.
The buildings are in disrepair. Wet trails, roads, and floors could be slippery.
Allow a couple hours to explore the property.
The park is located just off Route 102 in Cabo Rojo, near the border with Mayaguez. Parking is on the roadside, outside of the main gate. Be careful not to block any of the driveways.
Click on a placename below to view the location on Google Maps ...
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!