Puerto rico mountains: Ciales | Central Mountains | Discover Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico Most Travelers Miss? The Mountains

Puerto Rico’s central mountain region is off the beaten tourist path, and perfect for reconnecting with nature.

Photo by Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock

The need for solitude is a natural human feeling, and it’s in nature that you can satisfy it. Mountains are especially a go-to for anyone looking for peaceful isolation. Puerto Rico may not come to mind first when contemplating this kind of escape because, of course, beaches. But the diversity of the island is far greater than you might realize—and its mountains are as magnificent as its coastline.

Running east to west through the center of the island is the Cordillera Central, or the Central Mountain Range, which was once largely populated by Indigenous peoples, most notably the Taíno society. It traverses multiple municipalities and encompasses many forests, rivers, waterfalls, and other natural respites. Small farms abound and endemic flora and fauna thrive in these areas, which are among the least densely populated in all of Puerto Rico.

As with anywhere in nature, quiet in the mountains of the island doesn’t mean complete silence; here the background noise includes the chirps of coqui frogs, the perpetual woosh of a nearby waterfall, or the trills of endemic birds like the Adelaide’s warbler. But that organic soundtrack, paired with scenic views and the peace of intentional privacy, sounds as close to total serenity as we can imagine.

Below are a few ideal options for connecting with nature in this especially numinous region. Visitors should rent a car to get to any of these accommodations, some of which include additional (and still remote) attractions that require a short drive to reach. Be prepared for narrow, twisting roads, and take your time on the trek there; an unhurried mood will best set you up for a truly tranquil stay.

Swim in a river and stay at a farm in Utuado

Simultaneously breathtaking and blissfully humbling is the visually striking and historically significant Cañon Blanco, a section of the Río Caonillas that winds through Utuado, a municipality nestled in a valley of the Cordillera Central. The jaw-droppers here are the massive sun-bleached boulders; they tower over and enclose the river, from its belts of gushing waters to its deep and narrow streams of calm, swimmable pools. And many are marked by petroglyphs carved centuries ago by the island’s Indigenous Taíno peoples. Today, the area is distantly flanked by homes—and these neighbors graciously support visitors to their magical, communal backyard.

Stay nearby—above the river itself, actually—at Finca Viernes, a farm that offers fully furnished glamping (a spacious and sturdy casita with two queen beds and a twin) or tent rentals of various sizes for camping on one of its eight lots. Any of these options includes a panoramic view of the river and robust, mountainous forest. While it’s a small operation and therefore always a serene outdoor retreat, you might want to opt for a weekday stay, a time when Finca Viernes is least populated, to more fully appreciate its capacity for quietude.

Hike to waterfalls in the Jayuya region.

Photo by Photo Spirit/Shutterstock

Hike a mountain and find waterfalls in Jayuya

Deceptively named Tres Picachos, or three little peaks, this forest is home to one of Puerto Rico’s highest summits, Cerro Punta, at 3,176 feet. Local guides say the trek requires an intermediate to advanced level of hiking experience: Some plot a journey that takes up to seven hours, albeit with activities and breaks included.

Exploring Tres Picachos State Park at your own pace is, of course, another option. Take the 2.8-mile out-and-back trail at Mario Canales—but again, it’s not a trail for beginners, as rope climbing on a slant is part of the process. Spiders, overgrowth, and fallen trees are other inevitable obstacles; and any recent precipitation means slippery mud is a likelihood.

But along the way? There are waterfalls, sparkling swaths of river, and astounding trees. At the top you get 360-degree views of the Cordillera Central mountains and then some: It feels like you’re looking at the entire island from here. Tres Picachos was a sacred place to the indigenous Taíno peoples; Jayuya is known as the Indigenous capital of Puerto Rico, and there are plenty more Indigenous sites to check out throughout the municipality. But reaching the top of the highest of the Tres Picachos evokes its own special feeling—the achievement feels like a blessing from nature.

Because this area is so remote, most accommodations are beyond the forest itself. But about 30 minutes by car from Tres Picachos is Café Nativo, a coffee farm in Barrio Collores with three cabañas, each decorated with a minimalist and modern yet rustic aesthetic. Naturally, there’s a coffee shop too, open Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m., where visitors can enjoy breakfast and natural juices, in addition to savoring the coffee diligently cultivated, collected, and processed on-site.

Stargaze and camp in luxury in Aibonito

Find calm at La Cuchilla, a 90-acre camping property on Cerro Verdún, a mountain in the barrio of Cuyón in Aibonito, one of the southernmost municipalities in the Cordillera Central (reservations Thursday–Sunday; book through Airbnb or reach out directly via its Instagram). Options include glamping-style setups (canvas tents with comfy full-size mattresses) as well as a DIY area where campers bring their own tents. For optimum solitude, though, book La Receta de Toño, a tiny home for two built at La Cuchilla’s highest elevation. Thirty-five miles of coastline are visible from here: If the skies are mostly clear, you can even see Caja de Muertos, an uninhabited island a few miles from Ponce, off the southern coast.

La Cuchilla offers plenty for anyone looking for total respite: quiet space for a night of stargazing, an onsite lake primed for fishing, kayaks for paddling, and plenty of forested area to explore. But if you’re seeking a little something extra, head over to Las Escaleras de Cuyón, a natural pool tucked inside the same barrio as Cerro Verdún. The swimming hole is about a 15-minute walk from the entrance, so it remains a somewhat overlooked gem. This makes it all the more special, though, as it’s unlikely you’ll encounter many other people there; especially on a weekday, you’ll probably have its waterfall all to yourself.

>>Next: The Best Costa Rica Surf Camps for Every Type of Surfer

THE 10 BEST Puerto Rico Mountains (with Photos)

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1. El Yunque Peak

Mountains • Nature & Wildlife Areas

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The road to the peak is smooth and paved, and the distance is shorter, but it is very, very steep. The trail to the…

2. Cerro de Punta


By aaronrA1243XH

The road is pretty slick and gravel-ridden, so if you’re going up in the rain (or going to go down in the rain) 4-wheel…

3. El Toro Peak


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By Chutuoc

Love to comeback again to this place! Recommend for anybody wanna join with family of your wife/husband!

4. Luquillo Mountain Range


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By O8292NLingridm

OMG! You can not go wrong in Liquillo. The area is amazing, hiking the rain forest. Or the best beaches for swimming or…

5. Monte Guilarte State Forest

Mountains • Points of Interest & Landmarks

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By michaelsR7082YK

I hiked to the top of Mt. Guilarte Feb. 20, 2020. I am a healthy 60 year old, the hike took about 50 min. The view…

6. Cerro Mime


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By Tumba0

The first third of the hike is fair and easy to manage and the views are arguably as gorgeous as the top and the path…

7. Cerro El Rodadero


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By brodriguezcaraballo

From the top you can see Guayanilla, Yauco, Guánica and the Caribbean Sea. Absolutely beautiful!!!!!!!!

8. Tres Picachos


9. Cerro Miraflores


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10. Cerro Morales


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11. Cerro Las Tetas


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12. Cerro Gregorio


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13. Cerro Maravilla


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14. Cerro de los Cielos


15. Cerro Boca del Infierno


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16. Cerro La Pena


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17. La Torrecilla


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28. Cerro Piedra Hueca


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30. Cerro Pulguillas


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Showing results 1-30 of 81

  • EJW3

    Southold, NY738 contributions

    Great Hike, Amazing Views!

    We hiked to El Yunque Peak from the Mt. Britton Tower Parking area. It is a very scenic and enjoyable hike and the views from the peak on a clear day are amazing. From the top you can get a great view of the peaks and valleys of the National Forrest, see the Atlantic to the north, San Juan to the west, and the Caribbean to the south.
    Although from the parking area El Yunque Peak looks far away and high up, the trail is well marked, well maintained, and comfortable, and the climb and change in elevation is easily manageable. When you reach the fork for the Mt. Britton Tower, the trail to the tower is to the right. It is a short hike on a spur trail and the tower is worth the visit. The service road to El Yunque peak is to the left, and the hiking trail to the peak is straight ahead on the left. I recommend that you take the trail. The road to the peak is smooth and paved, and the distance is shorter, but it is very, very steep. The trail to the peak is longer, and rocky and uneven, but it is much more scenic and the change in elevation is much more gradual.

    Review of: El Yunque Peak

    Written April 3, 2021

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Glorimar G

    4 contributions

    Breathtaking view

    long walk if you decide to park down by the main street. about a mile hike up the mountains. Once up there, totally worth it!

    Review of: Cerro de Punta

    Written October 19, 2022

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Fiona

    5 contributions

    Unique experience

    My husband and I just went today, and reached to the peak. .
    We went with our crocs as we were told by the local they were right shoes to wear. We made it but I would suggested wearing hiking boots, since the trail was really muddy, and slippery.
    It took us 7 hours go back and forth, and we started after 12:30 pm which put us 1 hour in the dark hiking back. The good thing is the beautiful creep followed us along

    Review of: El Toro Peak

    Written April 12, 2022

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Ingrid M

    3 contributions

    Luquillo Mountains!

    OMG! You can not go wrong in Liquillo. The area is amazing, hiking the rain forest. Or the best beaches for swimming or snorkeling or surfing!

    Review of: Luquillo Mountain Range

    Written September 21, 2020

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Michael S

    Brewster, MA3 contributions

    Hike to top of Mt. Guilarte

    I hiked to the top of Mt. Guilarte Feb. 20, 2020. I am a healthy 60 year old, the hike took about 50 min. The view from the top was worth the trip. The path was well worn, but there was some scrambling and climing involved near the top. I had hiking shoes, think hiking boots and gloves would be a good idea. There weren’t too many markings but the path was well used, it would be hard to miss the trail. There was absolutely no litter along the trail and greenery and occasional birds were pleasant to see, bring a camera.

    Review of: Monte Guilarte State Forest

    Written March 1, 2020

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • lizakq

    Naguabo1,073 contributions

    Amazing views

    This is a must place to visit if you are in Orocovis and love nature. Beware: the GPS location won’t take you there but just follow it and ask around once you are close enough. I would say the level of difficulty is medium if you are in good condition and are not afraid of heights. Dress comfortably, wear shoes with good grip and take snacks and water. There’s a guy at the entrance of the street blocking the way with cones and charging 5$ for parking . He is also very helpful if you need anything. I would recommend going early in the morning to avoid extreme heat. Feel free to message me if you have more questions.

    Review of: Cerro Mime

    Written January 30, 2022

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Luis D. Ghigliotti

    Ponce, Puerto Rico281 contributions

    Breathtaking view!!!

    If you want to feel like being in the Mount Everest of Puerto Rico, you should visit El Rodadero…. the view is GEEAT !!!. .. and the scenery out if this World.

    Review of: Cerro El Rodadero

    Written April 15, 2019

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

  • Dayna

    210 contributions

    Intense hike, unobstructed views at the top! Not for beginners or unfit people

    As reviewed on Google and AllTrails, this hike is difficult and for advanced hikers. It is 2.8 miles from the start of the trail to the top and then 2.8 miles back to the car. The incline is steady 45-60+ degrees with many parts requiring use of ropes that are installed there already. I am an active 35+ year old person and I found it to be intense. Going up needed to stop and rest multiple times. Not many places to sit and break, just put my foot on a high rock and doubled over to catch my breath haha. I have never fallen before and I fell multiple times on this hike. Conditioned for the island we’re great that day, mud to be expected in the tropics. The ropes were fun at first but then never seemed like they were going to end. The peak at the top was amazing and totally worth the trek. Coming back down was east on the cardio but was really dangerous if you didn’t pay attention and properly use the ropes. One slip and down the mountain without control over jagged rocks you go! Or without loosening your grip at the right time, you could easily get rope burn. Going up took us 2.5 hours and down 1.5 hours. I was so happy to do (and survive) this hike! Went home with bruises and scrapes galore. An adventurist’s delight!

    Review of: Tres Picachos

    Written January 28, 2023

    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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    Most are so accustomed to their everyday habitat that there is not even a thought that there are fantastic, simply unreal places on the planet. Whether it’s natural formations like mountains and lakes, or man-made features, these places are worth a visit to remember for a lifetime.
    Danxia National Geographic Park — China

    These pretty slopes definitely look fake. But they do exist and can be found in the National Park in northwestern China. The multi-colored sandy deposits, which are called the Danxia formations, formed over 24 million years. According to the Chinese National Geography magazine, the mountains were recognized as the most beautiful.
    Mount Roraima — Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana

    The flat mountain Roraima, which rises above the clouds and has a height of about 2700 m, really looks fantastic. Although 80% of the mountain — part of the mountain plateau — is located in Venezuela, in fact it is located on the border of three states: Venezuela, Brazil and Guyana.
    Bioluminescent Bay — Vieques, Puerto Rico

    No, this is not a scene from the movie Life of Pi. A bioluminescent bay located on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico is filled with microorganisms that glow neon blue at night. You can even rent a kayak to swim in the glowing sea at night.
    Black Forest — Southwest Germany

    A lot of interesting things can be seen in the Black Forest, which is located in the southwestern part of Germany. Spring is considered the best time for walking to enjoy the unusual scenery and spring flowers.
    Hitachi Seaside Park — Hitachinaka, Japan

    If you visit the Hitachi Seaside Park, you should definitely take a walk along the unusual plantings, broom bass, which turn bright red in autumn. In addition, in the park you can enjoy bright and beautiful tulips and daffodils. Visitors who do not wish to walk can enjoy the wonderful views and beauties of the amusement park from the Ferris wheel.
    Hobbiton Village — Matamata, New Zealand

    New Zealand is known for its beautiful landscapes and the fact that the film epic The Lord of the Rings was filmed here. Despite the fact that after the filming of the trilogy, the village was dismantled, it was restored and opened to the public. You can walk through the gardens, visit Hobbiton, Frodo’s house and the Shire. This place is located in the vicinity of Matamata, one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.
    Lake Hillier — Middle Island, Australia

    No, these are not shooting defects and not Photoshop. Pink Lake really exists. The Australian lake, whose length is 600 m, is a miracle of nature. Scientists still cannot explain the color of the salt lake, but they have a lot of guesses. There are similar lakes in Senegal, Canada, Spain and Azerbaijan.
    Camel Thorn Trees — Naukluft Park, Namibia

    This photo looks like a painting, and involuntarily you begin to doubt that such a landscape can be seen in reality. The extraordinary beauty captured in this photograph by National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting can be enjoyed in the Namib-Naukluftt National Park in Namibia. The sand dunes against the muted color of the trees turn bright orange at dawn.
    Flathead Lake — Montana, USA

    The largest freshwater lake in the United States west of the Mississippi River is located in northwestern Montana. Flathead Lake is over 3 km long. When the water is calm, it is so clear that you can clearly see the bottom. Swimming in this lake is a pleasure.
    Grand Prismatic Spring — Wyoming, USA

    Think this is a landscape from another planet? A multi-colored, hot prismatic spring is located on Earth, in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It is the largest hot spring in the US and the third largest in the world.
    Door to hell — Darvaza, Turkmenistan

    Sometimes mistakes can be beautiful but scary. The local landmark «The Door to Hell», which is located in Darvaz, Turkmenistan, is a blazing hole in the ground that has been burning for more than 40 years. In 1971, gas workers thought it would be safer to set fire to gas deposits underground than to extract it here.
    Silent Mountain Reality — Centralia, PA

    Fans of the Silent Mountain video game are well aware of the foggy town where terrible things happen. But the prototype of the city really exists, it is a ghost town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. Why is smoke coming out through cracks in the ground all over the city? In 1962, a fire broke out at a local mine, and the mine still smokes.
    Crystal Cave — Skaftafell, Iceland

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