Guanica Dry Forest Hikes
|Most of the trails are old dirt roadways.|
Length: 5.5 km. Time: 2 hours each way. Difficulty: 2. Trailhead: Start at the forest headquarters on Rt. 333.
This sometimes rough road will take you to the site of an old fort that used as an observatory for the Spanish Armada. As you would expect, the view of the forest, the Caribbean and Guanica town is perfect. The original fort was destroyed by U.S. troops when American troops invaded Guanica in 1898. Like everywhere else, the Civilian Conservation Corps was busy here in the 1930s and built a lookout tower on the ruins.
On the return, you may want to explore some of the 3 side trails, which are not factored into the length of this walk. Hoya Honda Trail goes into a valley with a shady mahogany grove and palms. Picua and El Ver will also take you into ravines flourishing with evergreen vegetation and tree plantations such as the Guayacan tree, so heavy and dense that it sinks. It was heavily timbered for masts and prows by both the Spanish and Dutch.
Length: 8 km . Time: 2 hours each way. Difficulty: 2. Trailhead: At the picnic area at the headquarters parking lot.
This old road goes to the eastern boundary of the forest. It passes through all the major vegetation types including deciduous forest, which makes up about two-thirds of the reserve. In the dry season, about 40% of the trees will lose their leaves. As the rainy period nears, many trees will flower and fruit, which attracts numerous birds. About mid-point in the trail it's possible to switch to the Cueva Trail that will take you to the beach.
Length: 1.5 km. Time: 25 minutes each way. Difficulty: 2, on a hilly road. Trailhead: 0.2 km. to the east of the forest headquarters, beyond the picnic area. Access is from the Lluberas Trail.
Almost as soon as you start you'll pass the Dinamita Trail that cuts off to the left. This is not a maintained trail, so it's difficult to follow in places. It's an exceptional walk if you can find your way, which will eventually take you to the Cueva Trail, which leads to the beach and Rt. 333.
Easier to follow and although much shorter, the Murcielago Trail is an eventful walk. First, you'll pass through a plantation of spindly mahogany trees that are actually a half-century old and a dry deciduous forest, ending up in a moist ravine. The trail also cuts through limestone bedrock; listen for the sharp “meep” of the Puerto Rican todies, a small green bird that nests in the trees here.