Baño de Oro Trail and Baño Grande
Caribbean National Forest, Puerto Rico
The short, half-mile out and back, Baño de Oro Trail takes approximately 30 minutes for the average hiker, and allows for an easy adventure in the Caribbean National Forest. In addition to the Baño de Oro Trail, there is also a short path which leads to Baño Grande— baño, or pools, are the highlights of each of these rainforest paths. To enjoy these trails, park at the Palo Colorado Visitor Center, where you will see the path for Baño Grande just across PR 191 (Km 11.8)—after a short jaunt up a short paved path, past a scenic spillway, you will be standing at Baño Grande, the largest of the swimming pools built by the CCC. This location allows for some nice photo opportunities, complete with a footbridge on the far side of the teal colored pool. After everyone has posed on the bridge, retrace your steps back to PR 191, and then head south of the parking lot for about 200 feet until you see the Baño de Oro Trailhead (Km 12.0). A short, paved section will then lead you to the Baño de Oro bathing complex—a defunct swimming pool built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Despite all the man-made structures, each of these trails provide a surprising, and tranquil, glimpse into the rainforest. In addition to the concrete and gravel that dot the landscape, you will also be witness to orchids, red-blooming bromeliads, giant palms, and the sounds of tropical birds and the ever-present cooing of doves and the sound of El Yunque’s best known and most vocal inhabitants—the millions of tiny tree frogs known as coquis (pronounced “co-kee”).