Waterfalls and More in Peñuelas
Bummer…the first waterfall is no more. It was actually no natural, rather formed by a broken water tube gushing water. It was broken for years, making this beautiful well known waterfall. But as of 12/16, the tube has been repaired and the is no more first waterfall. The second waterfall, further in is still there and lovely.
What can I say … I am a sucker for waterfalls .. and we found another one that is really special and easy to get to. La Soplaera Falls is two nice falls in one spot, up in the mountains of Peñuelas. The town of Penuelas is really nice, too — the mountain views are amazing, and you pass the lovely main plaza enroute to the falls. All and all … a great way to spend a day!
Peñuelas is located on the south-west coast, the town just to the west of Ponce. While it may not be worth driving all the way from San Juan for just a day trip, I highly recommend making a side trip to see these falls if you are visiting Ponce or Cabo Rojo.
La Soplaera Falls
I had heard these falls were easily accessible. The town of Peñuelas maintains them, so there is a marked entrance, a place to park, and even a concrete trail leading from the road to the falls. It was easy to find — just 20 minutes up into the mountains after exiting Route 52/2.
I have seen some pretty views in Puerto Rico, but the steep, green mountainsides in Peñuelas are especially pretty. Just beautiful, and covered with every imaginable shade of green.
As usual, you drive up into the mountains on local country (curvy) roads. The drive wasn’t as bad as we expected it to be.
About ½ mile before you get to the falls, you come to a curve that has a small waterfall that seemingly runs through someones yard. The people that own the property made a little scene in a cave by their waterfall, it was neat place for a quick stop and some photos.
Continue up to the yellow marked trailhead and bridge. Park on the left in the gravel field.
Walk up the short, but steep inclined concrete path and you will come to the first waterfall — a nice wide beauty, probably about 35 feet tall.
Getting to the second waterfall is more difficult (relatively speaking). You practically have to walk through the first waterfall to get to the thin concrete path that leads to the second waterfall. You have to walk through some ankle-deep water and follow a narrow cement path along a rock wall, through another little sprinkling falls, then do a little “river trekking” through the water, and make you way up and around some rocks to the waterfall. But I think most people, taking their time and with a little help, will be able to get to the second waterfall and charco.
The second waterfall is a thin ribbon of water (about 30 feet tall) that drops into a nice pool, where you can swim (or at least splash around).
After we finished with the waterfalls, we did some river trekking down-river and found some more pretty rock formations, and small falls. This area was steep and difficult to get to … we really can’t recommend that people go down-river.
When we arrived at the “parking lot” (mid-day, mid-week in the summer), no one was there. After we finished with the waterfalls, there were about six cars in the parking area. But people seemed to come and go relatively quickly.
After playing in the river, we took a short drive farther up the road, and got some good mountain views. Then we turned around, and drove back to the center of town.
Peñuelas Town Plaza
In town, at the lovely Town Plaza, there is an old sugar cane locomotive, church, fountains, and statues. We spent some time in the plaza, and took a bunch of photos. The Flamboyan is the town flower of Peñuelas (and there is an amphitheater in the plaza that has a beautiful mural of a Flamboyan tree), the local musical instrument is the Güiro, and there are some historical figures associated with the town. We all remarked how everyone we saw or passed by in cars were so pleasant to us. I think they really liked having tourists enjoying their town!
I hear that Peñuelas has other waterfalls, river pools, and other interesting things to explore, so we will be back!
If you’re just stopping for a quick-look, allow about 30 minutes to spend at the waterfalls. Otherwise, pack your lunch and spend the afternoon. Just remember to take your trash home with you.
From the San Juan area, take Route 52 south then west past Ponce (where it becomes Route 2). Take exit 213 to Route 385 north to Road 132. Make a right onto Road 132, and continue until Road 386, where you’ll turn right. Follow Road 386 for about 8 minutes, until you see the yellow bridge and signs for the waterfall. Park in the gravel lot on the left.
Allow about 2 hours to drive from the San Juan area.
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