The best hiking trails in El Yunque have been carefully marked by the forest rangers. Our favorite, which takes 2 hours for the round-trip jaunt, is called La Mina & Big Tree Trail, and it is actually two trails combined. The La Mina Trail is paved and signposted. It begins at the picnic center adjacent to the visitor center and runs parallel to La Mina River. It is named for gold once discovered on the site. At La Mina Falls, there is a great waterfall and natural pool where you should take a dip. The mountain stream seems freezing at first, but becomes absolutely refreshing nearly instantaneously. Beyond the falls, the Big Tree Trail begins (also signposted). It winds a route through the towering trees of Tabonuco Forest until it approaches Rte. 191. Along the trail you might spot such native birds as the Puerto Rican woodpecker, the tanager, the screech owl, and the bullfinch.
Those with more time might opt for the El Yunque Trail, which takes 4 hours round-trip to traverse. This trail -- signposted from El Caimitillo Picnic Grounds -- takes you on a steep, winding path. Along the way you pass natural forests of sierra palm and palo colorado before descending into the dwarf forest of Mount Britton, which is often shrouded in clouds. Your major goal, at least for panoramic views, will be the lookout peaks of Roca Marcas, Yunque Rock, and Los Picachos. On a bright, clear day, you can see all the way to the eastern shores of the Atlantic.
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