The Best Hiking Trails in Puerto Rico for All Levels of Hikers
Boasting the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System, a stunning dry forest, and other geological wonders, it’s no surprise that Puerto Rico is a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers. Hiking in Puerto Rico is full of surprises, from unique wildlife and a wide variety of plants to breathtaking views you won’t find anywhere else.
You can find amazing hiking trails all over the island, from the popular rainforest trails at El Yunque to challenging hikes at Tres Picachos. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing nature walk or an adventure, Puerto Rico has a hiking trail for you. This list includes trails for all levels of hikers and in different regions of the island. Pack your hiking gear and get ready for a memorable experience!
El Yunque National Forest
El Yunque is one of the top attractions visitors want to explore on a trip to Puerto Rico, and for good reason. This highly biodiverse forest is full of amazing things to discover, including natural pools and waterfalls, beautiful wildlife, and at least 240 different species of plants. Adventures abound in this unique rainforest, and there are hiking trails for all types of travelers.
Distance: 0.4 miles
If you’re visiting El Yunque with the whole family, Caimitillo Trail is a perfect way to discover the rainforest on a relaxing walk that everyone can enjoy. It features rich foliage and opportunities to spot wildlife as you stroll along comfortable pathways, and you can find some great picnic spots to enjoy the atmosphere and rest. This short trail also leads to other, more challenging trails, so it’s a great starting point.
Distance: 0.7 miles
Although Angelito Trail isn’t on the forest map for El Yunque, it’s a great hike that takes you to a refreshing swimming spot. This easy nature trail is perfect for observing wildlife and enjoying the rainforest with the whole family. The vegetation is different from what you might see higher up in the forest, and it includes breadfruit trees and philodendrons. The short trail ends at Las Damas pool in the Mameyes River, which has crystal-clear waters and a rope swing. For an extra special experience, enjoy the hike at night and discover the nocturnal wildlife on the tour below.
El Toro Wilderness Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles (or up to 12.5 miles when all sections are open)
This trail can get challenging, but the effort takes you to the highest peak in the Luquillo Mountains, El Toro Peak. This is one of the best hikes in Puerto Rico and one that hiking enthusiasts should definitely add to their bucket list. It can get a bit muddy and has some unkempt areas, but for the most part, it’s a smooth trail with a steep climb. One of the best features is you can see the trees change as you reach the top, where only a “cloud forest” of stunted trees can grow. While this trail used to connect to the Trade Wind Trail, that section is currently closed to the public.
Charco Azul Trail – Carite State Forest
Distance: 0.8 miles
Just an hour outside of San Juan, you can find this tranquil trail near San Lorenzo on the east of the island. Charco Azul Trail is perfect for families, beginners, and anyone who wants to enjoy a leisurely walk ending at a beautiful swimming spot. The trail is paved all the way, featuring small bridges that cross over rivers. The best is saved for last — the stunning Charco Azul is a beautiful blue lake where you can take a refreshing swim at the end of your hike. The area has breathtaking views and plenty to explore, including caves and rock formations. Just remember to use caution, as the pools are deep and there are slippery cliffs.
Ballena Trail – Guánica Dry Forest
Distance: 2.4 miles
Difficulty: Easy but hot
Located on the south side of the island, the Guánica Dry Forest has an arid climate with desert-like conditions. Its features are almost the complete opposite of El Yunque — you can find cacti and other similar plants in this subtropical dry forest. Ballena Trail leads to Ballena Beach, known for its mangrove area, and you can also find limestone caves to explore. This slightly uphill hike is not technically challenging, but the heat can make the conditions difficult. It’s best to visit during the winter months and avoid the hottest times of the day.
Interpretive Trail – Guajataca Forest
Distance: 2 miles
Located in Isabela, the Guajataca Forest is a must-visit if you’d like to explore the karst region of Puerto Rico. The forest has 25 miles of trails, but the Interpretive Trail is one of the most popular. Starting by the Information Center, it takes you in a circle, and you can see birds and butterflies along the way. You can also take a quick detour to see the Observation Tower. Although the trail is relatively short and easy, it has some steep sections — including the steps up to the observation tower — that make it a bit more challenging.
Árbol Solitario – Salinas
Distance: 1 mile
At the top of Cerro de los Cielos stands a lonely mango tree that attracts countless hikers who want to enjoy the stunning views from the peak. Located between Cayey and Salinas, the peak that Árbol Solitario calls home offers beautiful landscapes everywhere you look, from the local towns and mountains to the Caribbean Sea. The tree has two swings for iconic photo opportunities. While some hikers used to take a shortcut to the trail by parking on a highway emergency ramp, this is illegal, so be sure to follow the official trail, which begins off of highway PR-1. The hike is steep and challenging, but the views at the top are worth it.
Tres Picachos – Jayuya
Distance: 2.8 miles
If you’re looking for a mountain hike with plenty of opportunities for wildlife sightings, Tres Picachos is a great option. This three-peaked mountain located in the Cordillera Central in Jayuya offers an adventurous hike and amazing views that you’ll never forget. The hike poses a challenge, with a steep ascent that is aided in part by ropes tied to the trees. The trail can get a bit muddy if it rains, so be sure to wear appropriate hiking attire, and bring plenty of water and snacks.
The beauty of Puerto Rico is best experienced on a hike, allowing you to connect with nature and experience the beauty of the island. Choose your hike based on your experience and how much you want to challenge yourself. No matter which trails you decide to visit, you’re sure to enjoy a memorable day in nature. For the most challenging hikes, it’s always a good idea to hike with an experienced guide. Now get out there and get to know the best of Puerto Rico!