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Hiking Toro Negro Forest



Hiking benefits

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Hiking

Other Benefits of Hiking

Overall, hiking is a great way to improve physical and mental health, build relationships, and develop a sense of personal growth and accomplishment.

 

Best hiking trail for outdoor lovers in Puerto Rico

 

Toro Negro is Puerto Rico’s highest cloud forest, with its highest elevation at 4,390 feet.

You’ll find as sorts of things in Toro Negro: Four types of forests, three highest peaks, two natural swimming pools, nine rivers, and a handful of waterfalls.

 Toro Negro State Forest is famous for its natural diversity. Scientists have identified 160 species of trees divided into 53 families.

 




Ferns and orchids are abundant at Toro Negro, with 40 Puerto Rican species. 

30 Species of birds live in Toro Negro, six of them are endemic, and two are at risk of extinction, protected by local and federal law.



 There are twenty species of reptiles in Toro Negro, including the giant lizard, the pigmy lizard, and the Puerto Rican blind snake lizard Amphisbaena caeca.

Recent studies have found eight species of bats living in Toro Negro. There are even Puerto Rican scorpions, Tityus obtusus, in the forest.

But you don’t have to worry; they are tiny and no danger to humans.

The rivers and the two “embalses” reservoirs have different fish species and crustaceans. 

 From the tower, you will get a 360 degrees panoramic view of the center of the Island.

You will also see The Atlantic Ocean on the north and the Caribbean Sea on the south.

 There are camping grounds in Toro Negro, and a few gazebos, and restrooms comprise the camping area.



Though there are various forest regions in Toro Negro, all of the hiking trails are located in one area. That would be near the administration office / ranger station on Route 143 KM 32.4 in Villalba. The office is open Monday- Friday, and they will supply you with maps and other info about the forest and trees (all in Spanish). Note 8/14- One of our readers said no one is working here anymore- so print out this article and bring it with you as a map.

The map they give you is OK, but after hiking around and talking with one of the rangers, we found that their map includes trails that no longer exist. So, with the info we got from the ranger, and the data we got from our GPS unit we made a better map!

There are really only about 6.75 miles of trails all total, so with an early enough start, a little planning and the stamina, you can hike all of the trails in a day. We didn’t hike on all of the trails — we only hiked about 4.9 miles the day we went. But there was still plenty of daylight left.

One weird thing about hiking here is that a number of the "trails" require you to walk along the road in order connect to another trail (to make a loop) or to get back to the parking area. These are small roads that have blind curves and, though they are infrequently-used, it was a bit unnerving.

In general, the trails are wide. Some trails are access/maintenance roads used by the staff, so those trail heads are blocked from vehicular traffic with a green gate. You are allowed to walk around the closed gate. There is an occasional sign along the trails, but don’t expect to find a lot of direction along the way. This forest is not used much — only 2 other parties signed in at the office the day we went.

 

El Bolo Trail. This trail head is across the street from the parking area (it starts out as the driveway for the forest maintenance area). This is a wide trail, that goes from forest to field and back to forest. It has lots of bananas and wild flowers along the way. It’s pretty and well-maintained. It starts off with a steep uphill climb, but eventually flattens out. It was rocky at first but became an earthen/grassy trail.

Toward the top of the trail, it meets the paved road that goes to the right — we continued on the trail to the left. After that, this trail loops off to the left. You can take this trail all the way back down to Route 143, where you have to walk on the road about ¼-mile to get back to the parking area. Or, you can go farther uphill to the right and go on the Observation Tower Trail.

There is a sign that says El Torre for the trail to the Observation Tower. This trail was difficult — it was uphill and slippery … REALLY slippery. It is about 0.6 miles one way. It took us a while on both the uphill and downhill parts. The trail is made of rocks and, since these trails don’t get much use, the rocks were covered in algae. We ended up walking in the muddy area on the side of the trail (which was also slippery, but a little less so).

But when we finally made it to the tower we found some really lovely 360° views. And a great breeze! The tower is about 3537 feet above sea level — so you can see for many miles! The distance from the office to the tower is about 2.14 miles.

The trail to the tower is a dead end, so we went back down the slippery trail until we got to El Bolo Trail. Then we back-tracked on El Bolo Trail until we got to the intersection with La Piscina Trail.

On La Piscina Trail



This trail is nice. From El Bolo Trail, it goes down hill through the forest for about 0.8 mile before ending on Road 143. The last part of it goes through 2 picnic areas (where we stopped and ate our picnic lunch) and you come to the river-fed "swimming pool" (La Piscina). This DRNA recreation area had an old river-water swimming pool. But when we visited, the swimming pool was in disrepair and closed. They have repaired it and were going to open it in 2016…But it never opened. Hopefully some time in 2019? If it does open, it will only be open during summer months.

Continuing down the trail a little past the swimming pool (just before the road), you will come to a small side path that leads down to the river where there is a pair of very pretty waterfalls and a small natural pool. Back on the main trail, you will end up on the road and must walk a little bit (about ¼ mile) on the road to the left to get back to the parking. It was here we had a 15-minute rain shower.

 

Cerro Punta, at 4390 feet, is the highest point in Puerto Rico. If you drive west on Route 149, you will eventually drive very close to Cerro Punta. You can identify it by the radio and communication towers on it.

Cerro punta hiking

Cerro Punta, located in the Cordillera Central mountain range, is the highest peak in Puerto Rico, standing at an elevation of 4,390 feet (1,338 meters) above sea level. The mountain offers breathtaking views of the island and is a popular hiking destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Getting There

To reach Cerro Punta, you can drive or hike up the mountain. The drive is approximately 30 minutes long and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. The hike up the road that leads to the peak is about 30 minutes long and is suitable for hikers of all skill levels.

Trail Information

The trails in the Toro Negro State Forest, where Cerro Punta is located, are not well-marked and often suffer damage from storms. However, there is a paved road that leads to the very summit, making it accessible to hikers. The forest has 12 miles (19 km) of hiking trails, some of which lead to the top of Cerro de Punta.

View from the Top

The view from the top of Cerro Punta is said to be “the best view in all of Puerto Rico.” On a clear day, it is possible to see virtually the entire island, including as far as San Juan, which is over 75 miles (120 km) away.

Tips and Precautions

Accommodations and Services

There are, however, several coffee plantations and lodges in the surrounding area that offer accommodations and amenities.

Conclusion

Cerro Punta is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its stunning views and accessible trails, it’s a great place to experience the beauty of Puerto Rico. Remember to plan ahead, be prepared, and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike

 

The forest is open every day for hiking. 

 

The administration office / ranger station may be open weekdays from 7:30am until 4:00pm. Call 787-867-3040 to make sure. Given the small, winding, shaded roads that lead into the forest, it’s probably smart to plan on driving out of the area before it starts getting dark (5pm or so).

 Bring everything that you will need for the day — food, water, etc. There is nothing available for purchase in the forest. There are restrooms in the building behind the administration office and in the campsite area.

 Allow at least 2 hours to see some of the forest. If you get an early start, you could easily hike all of the trails in one day.

 Don’t believe all the trails on the map that they hand out at the DRNA office! Trail 2 and Trail 4 on their map are just DRNA maintenance routes — short in and out roads, not really hiking trails. We never did find Trail 10 from their map, and the ranger said not to bother looking for it. Also, their map shows a trail that cuts across from Trail 5 to Trail 9 without having to go on the road. The ranger said that this trail does not exist. Save yourself a headache and print out our trail map and take it with you.

 

 

 

https://www.trailforks.com/region/toro-negro-12893/

 

 

 

 







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