After leaving La Mina Falls fully revived and ready to go, we packed ourselves back in the car and made our way up the mountain but not before stopping by this roadside stand for a bite to eat.
Walking into the old yet well maintained building, the red painted walls cushioned with the rainforest leaves creeping through the window gave all of us that welcoming tropical sense we were looking for.
The food, simple yet delicious seemed to give your taste buds a buzz. Ordering my chicken fajita then quickly scarfing it down, we anxiously jumped in the car and continued to the trailhead leading to the peak of El Yunque. After parking the car against the mountain side, we began our ascent!
The entrance to the trail was brightly lit with red flowers of all sorts. Beautiful and leaving a sweet aroma in the surrounding air, I could already tell this was going to be one of those “hikes of a lifetime”.
The trail was pretty well maintained for most of the way except for the occasional muddy crossing where the rain had puddled itself a new home. Carefully walking across the designated slippery cobblestone-like path, the air was rich with songbirds, croaking frogs and chirping insects.
After hiking for around 20 minutes the cobblestone path began to disappear leaving a mud-ridden trail of sticks, twigs and sharp rocks…we were all very careful in our footing as to be careful not to fall off. Eventually we made it to the first lookout point and I must say the view was phenomenal!
We stood on that ledge taking in the view for quite some time. It was just amazing how clean the air felt from up here. The atmosphere felt totally different from the rest of downtown San Juan and instead of the humid heat, we were welcomed with a cool refreshing breeze during the entire hike.
Noticing the winds picking up and the clouds moving in rather quickly, we began our sketchy traverse back to steadier ground and continued on with our hike. At this higher elevation, the entire jungle was a living organism. All the trees had this green slime-like substance growing on them and the Coqui Frogs were evermore present chirping in the background.
It never fails to amaze me out how diverse each rainforest is. The ones in Costa Rica & Panama were totally different than that of El Yunque yet each one hosted thousands of life forms…each totally unique! Making our way through the rain, we began to arrive to this old school road that had definitely seen better days. Sensing we were getting closer to the peak, we each picked up the pace until we saw the tower where I broke out into a sprint for a race to the top.
Climbing up the worn algae covered stairs, I got to the top and was greeted with this wonderful view. Totaling nearly 90 minutes, the first half of the hike was over and, soaked from head to toe, we all smiled as we took in the tranquility of the surrounding island. It’s been a long while since I felt the freedom I felt at the top of that island…long live El Yunque! 🙂
Ronald Robbins is the Founder of Active Planet Travels adventure travel blog and Clicta Digital, a digital marketing agency based out of Denver, Colorado. He has found most of his professional interests in being an adventure travel blogger, photographer & bizarre food enthusiast.