I took the opportunity of my first visit to the El Yunque National Forest to climb to the peak on the El Yunque Trail. I took the short trip out to Roca El Yunque and I cut across to the Mt. Britton Trail via the Mt. Britton Spur, and had to hike about a mile on the road to complete a 7-mile loop and get back to the trailhead.
The hike from the trailhead to the peak is about 2.5 miles, and steadily climbs about 1400 feet. I had not looked at a topo map ahead of time, and it was mostly foggy, and occasionally rainy (which is typical for the rainforest!) so I found myself a bit confused, never knowing which direction I was going, just following the trail up higher and higher.
Coming from the desert, the hike was amazing. The saturation of green, amount of streams, creeks, drainages and puddles everywhere, combined with dense humid air, thick cloud cover, and occasional rain made for a great "change of pace" from my usual hikes!
The signs indicate that it should take 2+ hours to get to the peak, but I did it in 90 minutes. And that included plenty of stoppages for photos and videos, or searching for the tiny coqui tree frog that I could hear but never see! In fact, my GPS tallied my time of moving and stopped at nearly equal, 2:15 moving, 1:55 stopped. Though much of the stopped time was spent at the two peaks.
At El Yunque Peak and out at La Roca, I got very little view as the clouds were very dense, but by the time I got to Mt. Britton, there were occasional short openings which allowed me to get a couple of photos, and a clear view of the Atlantic to the north.
When I got back to the trailhead, I drove down the road a mile or so and set off on a short hike on the Big Tree Trail to La Mina Falls. That was a fun followup to this little workout.
In addition to the photos here, check out the photosets on the linked hikes, as well as a couple of videos below. And if you ever find yourself in Puerto Rico, don't miss El Yunque. (But DEFINITELY skip any kind of organized tour. Rent a car and do it on your own, you'll be much happier!)
Darkness in the rainforest at noon:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7heF9vPAcQ
Stuck in the clouds and a cool breeze near the top of the mountain:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMYQhoyLWNg
Los Picachos as seen from below El Yunque Peak:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPNdgw8qtVc
Short clearing from Mt. Britton Lookout Tower:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jGK3Wwe594