Explore El Saltillo & Nearby Waterfalls
San Sebastian is famous for some of its waterfalls, like Gozalandia Falls and Salto Collazo. But there is another, lesser known, one called El Saltillo. This waterfall is a bit more of an adventure to find, but worth it! And, right along the trail, there is a side trip to other even lesser known falls. It is not an easy hike, nor a clean one, but we had a ball exploring the rivers there!
San Sebastian is a town in the northwest area of Puerto Rico. The town has a lot to offer, and finding this waterfall is an adventure you may enjoy. Years ago, we set out to find El Saltillo waterfall, using directions from a geocache site. We did find it, but it required us to walk through a fenced cow field (which is no longer accessible). While there, we did see all sorts of trails leading there from another direction, so we knew we had some exploring to do to find the other way in. We went back and found the other way, but then Hurricane Maria happened in 2017, and the trails were destroyed. But now, the trails are opened back up, as more people have used them. But this waterfall is rarely visited, so if you go, you will probably have it to yourself.
Our Recent Visit
Following Hurricane Maria in 2017, the bridge on Road 451 washed out, so that road is closed before you get to the river. We took Road 4451 to the end (by the barriers) and parked there. We walked a little bit down beyond the barrier and, on the right hand side, there is a thin trail (which leads to a smaller falls, which an acquaintance calls Cascada Peña). Continue past that thin trail on the right for now, and go down until you get almost to the river. On the right hand side, you will see on the right side the Saltillo trailhead, which is a larger dirt trail.
The Saltillo trail starts out going through a lot of grasses. You will soon get to a stream or small river crossing (we will stop back here on way back!). Cross it and, from this point on, the trail goes through the forest. Once you cross the little stream, the trail goes to the left. When you come to a Y at a tree, go to the right. It will seem like you are going uphill a lot, but it is OK. At the next Y, you will want to stay to the left. The trail is muddy, and a little bit slippery. But it is only about a 15-minute walk until you hear the waterfall on your left. This is where you take the steep trail, down the hill, to the waterfall.
We were able to walk around the pool to the right and get behind the waterfall, which was neat. But it was slippery, so be careful if you try that.
On the way back, we stopped at that little river crossing at the beginning and went upriver. You will see some trails at first and then you will need to go in the water. You will have to climb up and over some rocks, but it is not too hard nor slippery. And it is so pretty with lots of little cascades. Soon you will come to a really pretty 15-foot waterfall called Cascada Valeriana.
If you keep going, you will end up at Cascada Peña, This is a pretty 30-foot or so waterfall. And on the right side, you will see that path I mentioned first thing. Taking that steep trail will take you back to the starting point on the road.
The amount of water flowing over the waterfalls depends on how much rain there has been. I have seen photos of it almost a trickle during dry season!
Bring plenty of drinking water. Wear sturdy shoes that can get wet and muddy. Make sure to take your trash home with you, and pick up anything else you see left by others. Let’s leave it better than when you found i!.
Get an early enough start so that you can make it back to your car before dark.
Allow a few hours for this hike.
Park at the end of Road 451, near the barriers.
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 ...
- Cascada Peña, trailhead: (18.329360, -66.918500)
- Saltillo Falls, parking: (18.329590, -66.918160)
- Saltillo Falls, trailhead: (18.329880, -66.916830)
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!