Into the Forest; Toro Negro, Puerto Rico

Take advantage of every opportunity to conquer nature. Reach the highest heights, head to the deepest depths, and soar over the landscape like you have wings.

When observation doesn’t satisfy that thrill-seeking urge, plan a trip to Toro Negro.

Toro Negro

On a heavily forested island, Toro Negro is a highlight among Puerto Rico’s many parks. Covering around 11 square miles (28km2), the park is a collection of dense vegetation, cool waters, and a particularly high peak.

The home of Cerro de Punta, Puerto Rico’s highest point, is often overlooked in favor of the El Yunque National Forest. However, those who make the trip to the understated forest aren’t likely to regret it.

Source: spi516

Exploring the Park

A trip to Toro Negro offers more than your standard hiking. While there are a number of trails to trek, those who are keen for an adrenaline-induced adventure are presented with a few interesting options.

Cerro de Punta

The most obvious choice for a Toro Negro destination is a hike to the summit of Cerro de Punta. At a total height of 4,390 feet (1138m), the mountain certainly isn’t Everest, however those who reach the top will be rewarded with impressive vistas.

With a number of trails reaching Puerto Rico’s ceiling, a drive to an unmarked parking lot will have you most of the way up already. From there it is only a short walk up a lengthy set of stairs to reach your goal.

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Acampa Tour

Rather than taking your own trip through the poorly-labeled park, consider joining a guided tour of the forest’s varied terrain. Providing all sorts of adventurous activities, the trip combines an appreciation of nature as well as a thrilling navigation of Toro Negro’s landscape.

After catching a ride to the forest, visitors can plan on getting wet. A slippery scamper through one of the park’s rivers is followed by the ascension of a powerful waterfall. With safety being one of the company’s main concerns, customers will be strapped into harnesses and outfitted with helmets.

Once back on dry ground, visitors will have their fitness levels tested with a climb up to the park’s higher grounds. But all that work pays off with a series of zip lines back down the mountain. Crossing both waterfalls and canyons, the lines offer a spectacular chance to appreciate the forest from above the treeline.

Expect to pay somewhere in the area of $160US for the complete package, which includes transportation, a meal, and a guided description of the landscape.

When To Go

While Tero Negro and the Acampa Tours run year-round, consider avoiding travel between August and November when rains are at their worst.  Then again, if you’re traipsing through rivers you’ll be getting wet anyway.

Climate

Temperatures in the region are bound to vary somewhere between 71°F (22°C) and 97°F (36°F).  Monthly rains will get up to 6 inches.

Getting There & Around

After flying into San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport, the Acampa Tours will pick you up from your hotel and drive you to Tero Negro.  If you’re going at it independently, you’re best to rent a car and head west.

Average Costs

  • Mid-range accommodations: $80-120
  • Meal: $10-25
  • Beer: $1.50

Do’s

  • Expect a fairly tough hike through the forest.
  • Pick up a guide to Toro Negro’s many trails.
  • Consider spending the night at an area campground.

Don’ts

  • Think that it will be easy to find your way around.
  • Expect an Acampa pick-up from anywhere outside of San Juan.
  • Leave Puerto Rico without tasting one of its famous rums.

Fun Facts

  • The second highest mountain in Puerto Rico is El Yunque, which lies in the El Yunque National Forest.
  • Puerto Rico has a total of 16 national forests.
  • The Arecibo Observatory was used in the filming of both ‘Contact’ and ‘Goldeneye’.